When Jonathan Harker, a librarian in the employ of Count Dracula (Lee), falls prey to the vampire’s lust for blood, his friend Dr. Van Helsing (Cushing) discovers the deed, and is emboldened to slay the bloodsucker. But with Dracula now in London and on the hunt for Harker’s luscious fiancée, Lucy (Carol Marsh), Van Helsing must act soon, before his nemesis pounces.
Why we love it
Hammer Studios’ horror maestro Terence Fisher gives Bram Stoker’s Dracula legend an intelligent and openly erotic twist in this bloody good adaptation. Lee’s creepy turn as the titular Transylvanian (his first of many) still makes my flesh crawl, but Cushing almost steals the picture with his action-hero embodiment of Van Helsing. This is Fisher’s most innovative gambit, and it pays off in spades. Lush sets and a hair-raising musical score add to the overall effect of Fisher’s bloody, libidinal twist on the vampire myth.