In the same vein as last week’s Peter Cushing “Frankenstein” double-feature, TCM will present two 1960s cult classics, “Dracula, Prince of Darkness” and “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave”, both starring Christopher Lee as the fanged hero, beginning at 10:15 a.m./9:15 a.m. central on Saturday, October 27 as part of their month-long Halloween-themed programming.
By the time star Christopher Lee first donned Dracula’s signature black cape for the first time in Hammer’s “Dracula” in 1958, he’s already played The Creature in the studio’s “The Curse of Frankenstein” the previous year. While TCM isn’t airing Lee’s first bite as The Count, the final scenes in that film are featured in the beginning of 1966’s “Dracula: Prince of Darkness”. In those scenes, Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) wields a crucifix and forces Dracula into the sunlight where he disintegrates and his ashes blow away in the breeze, leaving only his ring. The story then fast-forwards ten years later and features an angry mob looking to stake a dead woman through the heart on suspicion of vampirism.
Elsewhere in Karlsbad, Germany–coincidentally, the same setting as last week’s “Frankenstein” double-feature–four members of the Kent family (Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews, Suzan Farmer and Charles Tingwell) are unexpectedly left stranded by their driver minutes from their holiday destination. Once they arrive at their gothic destination, they are met by Klove (Philip Latham), the castle’s dutiful, if not creepy servant, who explains that his former master, Count Dracula left wishes that the castle always be ready to receive strangers. And so it begins.
Next up, at 12 noon/11 a.m. central, Lee miraculously survives his presumed icy death seen in the final minutes of Saturday’s first feature and as the 1969 title implies, “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave”.
In the months following Dracula’s presumed death, yet another victim is found with the familiar puncture marks in her neck. This prompts a visit from Monsignor (Rupert Davis), who declares that Dracula’s castle must be exorcised. Enlisting the help of the local Priest (Ewan Hooper), the two holy men climb the mountain toward Dracula’s castle. Just as they being their ascent, a storm kicks up and the two men get separated. The Priest stumbles and hits his head on a rock, at which point, blood trickles down into a nearby frozen stream. As his sanctified blood reaches the frozen body of water, it cracks the ice, thereby reanimating the unholy blood-sucker.
Lee would go on to star in four more Dracula films produced by Hammer Film Productions, making his last appearance for the studio in their 1973 release, “The Satanic Rites of Dracula”. While closely associated with Dracula, throughout his lengthy career, Lee would continue to enjoy a variety of roles, albeit mostly villainous. In more recent years, he’s appeared in everything from 1999’s “Sleepy Hollow” to recurring roles in both the “Star Wars” & “Lord of the Rings” franchises, playing Count Dooku and Saruman respectively.
TCM will continue their Halloween-themed programming following Saturday’s Dracula double-feature with a special presentation of their 2011 original programming, “A Night at the Movies: The Horrors of Stephen King” at 2 p.m./1 p.m. central. The terror keeps coming with 1960’s “Village of the Damned” at 3:15 p.m./2:15 p.m. central; “1953’s “House of Wax” at 4:45 p.m./3:45 p.m. central; 1959’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” at 6:30 p.m./5:30 p.m. central and 1955’s “Diabolique” at 8 p.m./7 p.m. central. And that’s just Saturday’s schedule. For TCM’s full schedule, CLICK HERE.
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