posted 00/00/2010

Directed by:
Terence Fisher

Peter Cushing ... Dr. J. Van Helsing
Martita Hunt ... Baroness Meinster
Yvonne Monlaur ... Marianne Danielle
Freda Jackson ... Greta

Country: UK
Runtime: 85 min

Let me start out by saying that Hammer films are not really my thing. I can watch them but I’m not particularly super excited about them. I had no idea how I would react to this film but I came into it with an open mind.

The movie is set in Transylvania in the 1800’s. Marianne Danielle is traveling by stage coach to her new job post as student teacher at a boarding school. The driver abruptly ditches her at a town pub and she’s left to figure out what to do next. Then an elegant older lady introduces herself as Baroness Meinster and befriends her. She offers to set her up at her mountaintop castle for the night and Marianne agrees. They have dinner and plenty of wine and Marianne is shown to her room. As she’s looking out the window she sees a curious young man in an adjacent part of the castle. She thinks this is weird since the Baroness told her that she lived alone. Then she explains that that man was indeed her son and that he’s mentally ill and she takes care of him. During the night Marianne does some more snooping and goes to meet the young man. She finds him tethered by a chain around his ankle connected at the other end to the wall. He can only go so far. With blind trust Marianne agrees to find the hidden key and let him loose. The Baroness finds out and she’s shocked. The young man is Baron Meinster and is a vampire. His mother would lure unsuspecting girls for him to feed on. Anyway...he escapes out into the night and the next morning Marianne is found fainted in the forest by the bad-ass professor Van Helsing played extremely well by Peter Cushing.

Helsing is studying the vampire sickness. Soon enough there is a murder in town and a young girl turns up dead. Helsing takes Marianne to the boarding school and explains on her behalf about her delay. There is a creepy old vampire servant hag that assists in raising the dead. In the midddle of the night Helsing watches in horror as the girl that had just been murdered rises from the grave to join the company of the undead. She manages to escape his grasp. Helsing then goes to castle Meinster and finds the vampire’s empty coffin. The Baron arrives and they battle it out for a bit before he escapes into the night. During this awful night the vampire bites Marianne’s friend and proposes to Marianne at the boarding school. And she says yes!!. What kind of women marries a complete stranger? This could only be explained to the vampires uncanny charm on women.

Helsing meets the vampire again at the old wind mill where he manages to get bitten on the neck. But this wont stop our bad-ass hero from saving the day. Helsing treats his wounds by cauterizing it then splashing some holy water on his neck and lo and behold, the vampire’s mark has been exorcised. The Baron returns with Marianne to watch Helsing suffer but to his surprise Helsing splashes him with holy water, burning his face. He finally kills the vampire by casting the shadow of the cross made from the windmill fans on him. The whole place is set on fire. What an excellent ending!

The movie had an overall quality atmosphere and great acting. Cushing was amazing as Helsing. He is probably my favorite Helsing, and that says a lot. The whole third act was really good for a slow British horror film. The pacing was a bit too slow for me and although I managed to keep up with it I could have easily gotten bored at parts. This was an ok film. I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch and review it.

- Jorge Antonio Lopez


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