Sunday, 8 May 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 129: Tuesday May 10

Dracula (Fisher, 1958) and Theatre of Blood (Hickox, 1973): 
Haymarket Cineworld, 6.30pm

The latest Time Out screening to celebrate the magazine's poll of the 100 best British films is a great double-bill from the horror annals of British cinema.

When David Pirie wrote his groundbreaking study of British horror films in A Heritage of Horror in 1973 not many were taking Hammer productions such as Dracula seriously. Fisher's film was voted No 65 in the recent poll.

Here's David Jenkins review in Time Out:

Digitally restored by the BFI to mark the fiftieth anniversary of  Hammer Horror, this creepy period yarn has retained much of its bite. A tripartite narrative focuses on the death of amateur vampire hunter Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) and the subsequent ripples of terror that engulf the family of his girlfriend and one Doctor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). Fun anachronisms abound, from the optimistic belief that the Berkshire countryside plus an overzealous smoke-machine equal rural Transylvania, to Van Helsing’s worrying assurance that the best way to recover from a blood transfusion is to consume plenty of ‘tea, coffee or even better…wine’. One shouldn’t be brutal about a film of such noble intent, but as ‘horror’ it doesn’t have the honest-to-goodness scares that modern audiences expect. Still, Christopher Lee’s Dracula is a menacing and complex presence who never lets his fangs and cape dominate. There’s also the canny use of vampirism as an allegory for drug abuse and sexually transmitted disease: is this the camp forerunner to Abel Ferrara’s ‘The Addiction’?

Meanwhile, look at this gorgeous credits sequence for Theatre of Blood.

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