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DRACULA

Magazine: "Little Shoppe of Horrors." #13; 1996.

Richard Klemensen's Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine began in 1972 featuring articles on classic horror movies. Several issues into the publication the focus became Hammer Films, and the detailed research and access to photographs not seen in every publication in the last ten years makes this one of the best of the 'Monster Magazines.' Christopher Lee's Dracula, rendered above, is hungry. This issue features three of Lee's Hammer/Dracula films: Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, Taste The Blood Of Dracula, and Scars Of Dracula.

Hammer Films released Dracula Has Risen From The Grave in 1968, which co-stars Veronica Carlson and Rupert Davies. Directed by cinematographer Freddie Francis, the movie is considered by many critics to be "darker" than Terence Fisher's previous Dracula films. In this installment of the series, Dracula is hell-bent for revenge on a priest who had exorcised his castle. Lee's performance and the gothic sets are often cited by critics and film historians as standing out and adding to the "darker" tone mentioned above. The ancient motif of resurrection in one form or another seems to occur in every human culture, in every time, comforting, placating, annoying, and terrifying people into sometimes committing odd, to say the least, behavior.

Hammer Films' next episode of the adventures of the blood thirsty Count appeared in 1970. Taste The Blood Of Dracula is centered around a group of English gentlemen, pillars of society, as they say, who in reality indulge in activities including exotic brothels, and a Devil's Mass. When one of the group produces the dried-up blood of Dracula, mixes it with his own blood, and then drinks it, he ends up dead. The dead body transforms into Count Dracula, who again has wielded his powers to cheat death. The belief in vampirism has been with us since, at least, cultures such as the Romans, ancient Greeks, Hebrews, and Mesopotamians. Blood as food is widespread, with such delicacies as blood sausage, blood soups, fried blood (cooked with onions for breakfast in Hungary), and in pancakes. Then of course, there's human-sacrifice accompanied sometimes by blood drinking that has been practiced by many cultures in many times; killing people in a blood ritual to appease a god or spirit, or in some cases something as innocuous (one would think) as the dedication to a new temple. "The blood is the life, Mr. Renfield."

1970 was a busy year for Dracula. Besides the Hammer film Taste The Blood Of Dracula, Christopher Lee also appeared in the non-Hammer Count Dracula directed by Jesus Franco. Then in November of that same year, Hammer released Scars Of Dracula, again starring Christopher Lee. Lee's Dracula adds touches of Bram Stoker's character in this one, commanding nature, scaling the walls of his castle like a lizard, and exuding a chilling influence. This time, the villagers rise up against the Count, setting fire to his beloved castle. Fools. They return to their home and find every woman and child in the village dead; killed. This film has a more supernatural aspect to it, but it also was the first Dracula movie to receive an "R" rating in the US. Many film historians consider this to be the most violent of Lee's Draculas, some say, sadistic. This time around, the remains of Dracula's last human-like manifestation, hidden in a secret crypt, gets drooled on by a filthy bat---and presto---another resurrection by Count Dracula.

This magazine's issue presents the three films evaluated as a Resurrection Trilogy. Following the official Return of Dracula in the 1966 Hammer production Dracula, Prince Of Darkness, these three films present the popular idea of the Immortal archetype. Author Karen Thompson, writing on a myth website, has this to say: "The vampire is evil, because he represents a perversion of the ideas of the cosmos." She goes on, pointing out, "The vampire perverts this natural order. The vampire's death is not the birth of the new cycle or spirit life. The vampire retains his body; thus his soul is still tied to the earth. The grave does not put the vampire in "order" with the cosmic column."

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