Horror Of Dracula (1958)
Jonathan Harker takes a job at Castle Dracula in order to put an end the Count and his wicked ways. But when it all goes horribly wrong, Dracula seeks out Harker's fiancee. She's soon found in her bed in the most enormous nylon nightie I've ever seen, with a couple of bite marks on her neck. Doctor Van Helsing - an expert on vampires, and a friend of Harker - joins forces with the fiancee's brother to track down the bloodsucking baddie and put an end to his "reign of terror".
In appearance, Hammer's creepy Count looks a closer relative to the Bela Lugosi version than Nosferatu. The story is based on the original novel (sort of) and includes great performances from Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in the lead roles. (Though Cushing is in serious danger of being upstaged by the over-elaborate scenery in his room at times.)
The classic visual style of Hammer horror films is on full display here. The rich colours and sumptous textures of the interior sets, and fog swirling around the gothic exteriors - it's all here and feels immediately recognisable. And if the stuff on screen doesn't make you jump out of your seat, the dramatic orchestral score will have a damned good try.
There aren't many horror special effects used in this, but the ones we see are done surprisingly well. Much of the nastiness is implied, or cleverly edited to be just out of our view. It actually works very well. And the climactic scene is wickedly good fun and worth waiting for.
By today's standards, Horror Of Dracula isn't really all that scary. But I'll bet it was a right shocker to audiences at the time. Stakes being hammered into chests, people being buried alive, potential harm to a child, as well as the sexual metaphors that arise. (There's even a brief, surprisingly homoerotic scene which I wasn't expecting!) These days, you're unlikely to be hiding behind a cushion to watch this. But that's not a bad thing at all. It's what I'd consider good comfort horror. Familiar, satisfying, and very enjoyable.