Review: DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968)

Full of sex, blood and religious zeal, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE is a heavenly horror picture from Hammer Film Productions. This 1968 outing is directed by Freddie Francis and is the fourth entry in Hammer’s DRACULA series. It surges with Gothic inclinations and is surely the most iron-rich of all the DRACULA movies, which is saying something. Francis’ command of the aesthetic pares to the heart of the matter, pinpointing the intersection of the sacred and the deliciously profane.

DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE opens with Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) presumably destroyed by the events of DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS. The villagers are still terrified, however, so it falls to Monsignor Ernest Mueller (Rupert Davies) to incite a faithless priest (Ewan Hooper). Dracula’s castle is exorcised, but there is trouble as an accident leads to the revival of the Count. The vampire sets his sights on Mueller’s niece Maria (Veronica Carlson) and it’s up to her beau Paul (Barry Andrews) to save the day.

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Sex is everywhere in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE. The camera dawdles around a tavern, where Paul keeps a room and where women like Zena (Barbara Ewing) show a fair deal of flesh. The plunging necklines are just the thing for the ogling men, but they also denote the lifeforce sought by the Count. Arthur Grant’s lensing makes this clear later when he zeroes in on Maria’s jugular vein, a throbbing bit of business that sends Lee’s Dracula into a frenzy.

This world of churning desire is further explored with Francis’ bloodlust, which literally splashes the frame. He tinges his world crimson and seems to derive existential pleasure from the sight of a gigantic stake plunging into Dracula’s chest. This is the stuff of sacred awakening, especially as Paul’s feeble atheism has to go through its paces in order to appropriately destroy the villain. There is redemption of sorts and a return to the cross, but not before a cathartic act of violence turns the dark to dust.

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