Hammer Films knew how to help fans celebrate Thanksgiving in 1968. The legendary horror studio released “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” 43 years ago today. This was actor Christopher Lee’s third outing as the Count after “Horror of Dracula” and “Dracula: Prince of Darkness.”
In “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave,” a monsignor exorcises Dracula’s castle. Of course, this doesn’t make our infamous Count very happy. He plans to take revenge on the man of God by making his lovely niece his vampiric bride.
Like most of the other films in the series, “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” features Lee doing very little but looking sinister and looming. He has very few, if any, lines in the film. This serves as proof of two things. First, Lee could command someone’s attention without even speaking a word. Second, the actor had no real desire to be in the film.
It’s no secret Lee felt as if he was “blackmailed” to be in the “Dracula” films, according to The Guardian. He’s actually told interviewers that Hammer couldn’t afford to pay him his going rate at the time. The producers would then remind him that if he didn’t do the pictures, many people would lose their jobs. That said, “Risen From the Grave” was a hit and became Hammer’s most profitable movie.
Longtime Hammer director Terence Fisher (“Horror of Dracula”) was set to helm this installment. He had to bow out of the production after he was injured in an automobile accident. This gave cameraman Freddie Francis (“The Evil of Frankenstein”) a chance to take the director’s seat for the film. He brought along cinematographer Arthur Grant, who used Francis’s colored filters to give the frame edges of all scenes featuring Dracula or his castle a tint of crimson, amber, and yellow.
The cast featured some classic stars. Familiar Hammer supporting actor Michael Ripper (“The Revenge of Frankenstein”) made an appearance. Rupert Davies (“Witchfinder General”) played Monsignor Ernest Muller. Barbara Ewing (“Eye of the Needle”) and Veronica Carlson (“The Horror of Frankenstein”) played the targets of Dracula’s blood lust.
This was Hammer’s first “Dracula” movie to be made at London’s Elstree Studios after many years of shooting at the company’s historic Bray Studios. The difference in filming locations was evident to devoted fans. The approach road, coach path, and moat that were familiar to viewers of “Horror of Dracula” and “Dracula: Prince of Darkness” were absent.
“Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” was the first of the series to be passed by the censors in Australia. “Horror” and “Prince of Darkness” were both banned in the country. A slightly censored version premiered in January 1970 at Sydney’s Capitol theater. It was also the first movie to receive a rating from the MPAA. Somehow it was rated G. “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave” has gone on to be one of a couple entries in the series to be accepted positively by both critics and moviegoers.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
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Eric Shirey is the founder and former editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, Brooke Shields, Gerard Butler, Brendan Fraser, Selena Gomez, and many more.
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