220. Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (GB1968)

Director: Freddie Francis

Starring: Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Ewan Hooper, Barry Andrews, Veronica Carlson, Barbara Ewing

Bit parts: Michael Ripper (obviously) as Max, the baker -honestly; and it's only just occurred to me; George A Cooper (the caretaker in Grange Hill; Billy Fisher's dad in the TV version of 'Billy Liar'.

Fact: Davies and Hooper both starred as coppers in their own TV series from different eras (Davies in Maigret in the 50s: Hooper in Hunter's Walk in the 70s).

Lie: Footballer Francis Lee received a long, boring phone call from  Granada TV's Gerald Sinstadt during the middle of his favourite tv programme Hunter's Walk and missed the end of the programme. His anger lasted the entire week and (subconsciously) led to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuEP27ff6Qc

Screenplay: John Elder (Anthony Hinds)

Cinematography: Arthur Grant

Dracula is brought back to life by the blood of a priest.

Freddie Francis died this week (March 17th 2007, to be precise). His very long career saw him alternate between prestige films as one of cinema's most gifted and respected cinematographers (The Straight Story, Elephant Man, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, The French Lieutenant's Woman) and pulp schlock like Asylum, Tales From the Crypt and Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (3 in their own way fantastic films).

Dracula has drowned, but the villagers who live in the shadow of his castle refuse to go to mass. A priest (played by Hooper -he is given no name in the film) cannot persuade them otherwise and turns to drink (a bit like Rio Bravo). Vampire Hunter and Exorcist, The Monsignor (Davies - no name again) arrives and persuades Hooper to join him on a trip up the mountain to exorcise Dracula's castle with a huge gold cross.

On the way back down, Hooper stumbles, cracks his head open and fortuitously brings the Count back to life as the blood from the wound flows into the mouth of Lee's ice trapped body.

Lee cannot enter his own castle and plans his revenge. He goes down to the village and bites the Monsignor's niece (Carlson).

Davies and Maria's student fiancée (the very rubbish Andrews) set off to save her.

Like most Hammer films, it's essentially a not-so-clever subliminal morality tale, told in a crude, clumsy fashion, but there are numerous compensations including the brilliant psychedelic titles, an effective sense of dread (particularly in the opening scenes) and a great, unpleasant parody of the Crucifixion with Dracula impaled on the foreshadowed gold cross with blood pouring from his eyes.

Screenwriter hinds was a tee-totaller and the usual dangers of drink theme rears its ugly head as Paul gets bladdered, loses control 9unfotunately of his libido rather than his bowels) and makes a play for the large titted serving wench Zena (Ewing) after being knocked back by the virginal Carlson.

Ewing played a large titted commoner in ITV's execrable Brass in the early eighties; Andrews is probably best remembered for his Yorkie ads and Master Baker Michael Ripper is a legend amongst us bit-part afficionados for being the only serious rival to God Star Sam Kydd.

A splendid, late-night, 'let's get the ale out' British horror film

The shot which inspired the dream-vision in John Carpenter's prince of Darkness.

6/10