Sunday, September 21, 2014
When I was a teenager, Christopher Lee's portrayal of Count Dracula in Hammer films was one of my absolute favorite things, even though most of them were pretty dull affairs when he was off screen. The first I saw was his second, DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, was double featured with, of all things, BATMAN in '66. HIS first, though, was simply DRACULA...
Except, of course, in America and a few other countries where it was renamed HORROR OF DRACULA
After that he played a lookalike vampire in the Italian comedy, UNCLE WAS A VAMPIRE.
He probably figured he was through with the Count, then but Lee returned 7 years later in DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS.
And then in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE.
This was arguably the best installment in spite of the inappropriately silly US ad campaign.
By TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, Lee was growing tied of the increasingly feral role.
But he nonetheless reprised it in a cameo in the Jerry Lewis-directed ONE MORE TIME.
And then again in the all-star flop, THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN, his character billed as "Ship's Vampire."
But he was back full force, complete with dyed black hair and red contact lenses, in SCARS OF DRACULA, only to call it quits after that.
He was then given the opportunity to do a version of his most famous role that was true to its book, Jess Franco's COUNT DRACULA. Lee looked great but the ultra-low budget showed and the film was quite poor.
So he once again returned to hammer 2 years later for what would be both my favorite installment and, by now, the most dated installment as well!
It did wel enough to generate one final entry with Lee...although not well enough to gte it released in the US.
Well, at least not for about 5 years when a recut, retitled version was just dropped on the market.
Lee still loved the character, though, and portrayed him on this LP.
Finally agreeing one final time--and once again in a European-only release, to do the role in DRACULA: FATHER AND SON.
Many years later, he would don a cape and play a very different Count in the STAR WARS series!