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Long, Dark and Gruesome: Christopher Lee’s Celebration of Count Dracula

Long, Dark and Gruesome: Christopher Lee's Celebration of Count Dracula

On the centenary of a horror icon, we celebrate Christopher Lee's indelible contribution to a vampiric legend.

CChristopher Lee’s iconic Reign of Terror as Count Dracula began in 1958 and lasted nearly two decades. He played the role more than ten times, seven of the Hammer productions. Lee made his grand entrance in the spectacular Technicolor as Dracula in the film directed by Terence Fisher from Hammer Film Productions, descending the ladder in command of extremely polite fashion to greet his unfortunate guest. In The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, David Thomson describes Lee as a ‘sexy Dracula’ – a deliberate move by the studio to fuse together sexuality and vampirism and move away from Bela Lugosi’s interpretation of the character; The posters also described Lee’s Dracula as a ‘terrible lover’.

In a Newsnight tribute to Lee, who died in 2015 at the age of 93, Simon Oaks, CEO and President of Hammer Film Productions, mentioned how Lee took on the role of Dracula and turned him into a ‘sexual predator’. This radical cinematic shift and sexy demeanor have forever engulfed popular culture and vampire mythology as seen in Twilight, True Blood and Interview with the Vampire.

Film critic, author of the Eno Dracula series, and horror expert, Kim Newman, explains the character’s development in cinematic terms, “Before 1958, the defining screen image of Dracula was Bela Lugosi – standing there staring, hypnotic gestures. His vocals in the Hungarian manner eventually inspired many, many comedy impersonators, from Grandpa Münster to Adam Sandler. The Lugoi’s Count, a classic in its own right, combined Abbott and Costello and a straight man or a Became a puppet and it looked like Dracula would never be frightening again.

With minimal screen time in Dracula (1958), Christopher Lee replaced it, their Dracula first meeting unarmedly humble and businesslike, then suddenly red-eyed, edgy and wild. Nosferatu and Lugosi’s Dracula creep in, but Lee pounces – using his cape like a matador or a swashbuckler, and dangerous, Lee’s Dracula is a physical as well as a spiritual (and moral) threat, but he is a There is also a cruel lady-killer. If anything, the character became more brutal over sequences—always alternating moments of peace with cobra-like attacks, accidental temptations, and climate disruption or implosion.

The public may be thirsty for a more seductive count of Lee, but he didn’t materialize in the next sequel, The Brides of Dracula, and it wasn’t until 1966 that he was resurrected through blood in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness Was. Religious rites. In 1970 alone, four films were released in which Lee appeared as Dracula; A comedic hallucinogenic sequence cameo in Jerry Lewis’s One More Time, Two Hammer Films, Test the Blood of Dracula and Scars of Dracula, and Jess Franco’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel.

Famously, Lee was never completely impressed by the Hammer screenplay for Dracula, describing his dialogue mostly as ‘hissing and spitting’. He wanted to showcase his acting and acting in a film that was closer to the source material. The mostly respectable version of Franco, where Klaus Kinski played Renfield, gave Lee a chance. As in the book, the more Dracula feasts on blood, the younger he becomes, and he welcomes Jonathan Harker to his lair for the first time, shockingly white hair and mustache to match his pale complexion. Candelabra in hand. He speaks the exact dialogue from the novel, “Enter freely and at will!” Lee’s soaring tone and statuesque pose perfectly reflect Stoker’s countenance details.

Icon of style and to commemorate the centenary of Lee’s birth in May, the inauguration Forbidden World Film Festival have programmed screening of Dracula AD 1972, The film opens with a thrilling action sequence set in 1872, as Dracula and Van Helsing wrestle with each other on a moving stagecoach through Hyde Park. After his death and funeral in Chelsea, the opening credits announce the stars, Lee and Peter Cushing, in a Gothic font, before rapidly cutting into the modern day with Concorde jostling overhead and a funky track composed by Michael Vickers that swings. dates back to the early 1970s. It’s a fun reboot of Dracula, updated for the time being, and fifty years after its release, it’s become a fascinating counterculture time-capsule of the hippie versus the stuffed British establishment.

Tom Vincent, a programmer for the festival, explains his love for the Count of Lee and the reasons for showing Dracula AD 1972, “While this year’s festivities to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Bristol’s beloved video The theme of the film is ‘The Movies of 1982′. Shop 20th Century Flix, we can’t help but notice that the festival dates so close to the 100th anniversary of Christopher Lee’s birth. Hammer Clear Screening of one of the Dracula movies Liked. Lee was definitely Dracula. I clearly remember when I first saw him as Dracula. I was 8 years old, and my dad did a good past-me-sleep of ’58 Dracula’ on TV The time the BBC broadcast was taped. I was mesmerized! Lee was not only scary, but handsome and dashing as well.

Forbidden Worlds is about celebrating genre films and giving a platform to not only the usual suspects, but also films that deserve a place in lime (or moon!) light. I think Dracula Eddie 1972 Hammer has one of the lowest ratings. As much as it is 1972 – hippies, flares and blood – it has become a period piece in its own right. ,

At this point it would be wrong not to mention Lee’s heartfelt friendship with Cushing, who appeared before him in three of the Hammer films as his antagonist Van Helsing. They had amazing chemistry, and they always finished the count in memorable fashion with Lee’s death scenes, which were often the blood-curdling highlight of the movies. Van Helsing killed Dracula twice in 1972, the king of the undead, the second time by pushing him into the stake’s grave. His final performance in The Satanic Wrights of Dracula (1973) is however poor, with Lee being led through a spiky hawthorn tree, and trying to keep a straight face through a long battle with tree branches. management is done.

The title of the piece takes its name from Christopher Lee’s autobiography, Tall, Dark and Greasy, which explains his fun with his villainous roles. Even though he was disappointed to be typecast as Dracula in his ‘graveyard period’, working for Hammer Films was a launching pad for his career and led to a lasting relationship with Cushing. 100 years after Lee was born, and 64 years after his first appearance as the Count, he’s alive forever as a huge silver screen star and the man who made Dracula sexy.

Previous The Forbidden World in Bristol IMAX runs May 13-15,

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Ketya Cerny