Horror of Dracula
The commercial success of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) established a number of vital ingredients that would go on to form the basis of much of Hammer’s gothic horror. The lurid use of primary colour, the opulent and lavish set decoration and design, the bombastic and strident musical scores, and the tongue in cheek black humour. The film firmly set the small British producer down the rutted and overgrown pathways into the sublime universe of the gothic and their 1958 production of Bram Stoker’s famous novel would arguably become their finest aesthetic and narrative achievement. For all of its stylistic innovation The Curse of Frankenstein now seems a bit stately and stiff. The Hammer artists had created a dandyish and talky world of drawing rooms and parlours. By contrast Dracula still ripples and crackles with energy. It has a tone and economy of pace and design that remains exhilarating and exciting. The elements of Hammer horror reach a remarkable state of synthesis (some might say the only time they all genuinely did) and the result is a landmark in British cinema.