Review: Dracula has risen from the Grave (1968, Freddie Francis)

The evil of Dracula has been destroyed. Or has it? With the help of a few drops of fresh blood, and a priest who has lost his faith, the prince of darkness returns...

Certainly one of the most spectacular adaptations of the material is "Dracula has risen from the Grave". It does some twists and turns to finally tie in with the universe created by the previous Hammer/Dracula/Lee productions, but it succeeds, and from there on it goes ever more boldly, and effectively, into an intricate story about Christian belief, atheism, and family. Of course it's a horror movie featuring Dracula, so the viewer can expect some adequate visual and aural stimulants - and this one doesn't hold back at all.

"Dracula has risen..." is loaded with erotic innuendo and not-so-innuendo, putting the underlying complex of sin-vs.-purity/family-vs.-rebellion/etc., that is present in all Dracula material, on full display, while being generous with the gore, creative and just as generous with psychedelic colors the likes of Mario Bava would be proud of, wasting zero time on fillers, and still devoting enough attention to some great dialogue that provides background and motivation to the characters. That's a lot of good stuff, and indeed the movie flows along nicely, without creating nostalgic "all-star", "all-Dracula" moments, but instead focusing on the action and the consequences.

Christopher Lee has comparably little screen time in the movie, and Peter Cushing is absent from the cast - creating a slightly unusual, unfamiliar mood. Some of the editing is razor sharp, Lee gives an exceptionally raw and wild performance, and the camera work is flawless to masterful. All of which makes the appearances of the lord of vampires even more menacing than they had already been previously. The producers of "Dracula has risen..." obviously had a vision of the pace, the visual quality, and the impact the movie should have, and they did not fail.

Verdict: Charming, sexy, fast, and genuinely scary! 8/10



Trailer video:


You can watch the movie at archive.org:


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Twilight of the Dead - a new George A. Romero zombie movie?

There might be a seventh George A. Romero "...of the Dead" movie!

Looking back at 2021, when Romero's previously almost unknown, near lost "The Amusement Park" got restored and released, it stirred up some talk about the director's legacy, and brought into light some of his unfinished ideas and plans:

'Now Suzanne Romero, widow of the filmmaker, is opening up about Twilight of the Dead and sharing her plans to take it to the screen. She has been developing the script with three screenwriters for the past few years and is ready to meet with directors on the project, which has this tantalizing logline: “The story is set in a decimated world. Life has all but disappeared. But there still may be hope for humanity.” [...] George A. Romero wrote a treatment for Twilight of the Dead with Paolo Zelati. After the director’s death, Zelati asked Suzanne Romero for permission to continue with the script. He brought on screenwriters Joe Knetter and Robert L. Lucas to help. [...] “It is no secret that Diary and Survival were not the way he envisioned the series ending, and George knew it very well,” notes Zelati. “Twilight of the Dead was his goodbye to the genre he created and wanted to go out with a powerful film.” [...] Suzanne Romero is now ready for meetings to find the right director to complete George A. Romero’s zombie saga. “This is the film he wanted to make. And while someone else will carry the torch as the director, it is very much a George A. Romero film,” says Suzanne Romero.'

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/twilight-of-the-dead-george-a-romeros-final-zombie-movie-in-the-works-4175965/ (as of 2023-09-15)

It has been quiet for some time, but these days we're receiving (quite exciting) news that there's actual progress.

According to the news, Brad Anderson will direct the new movie, claiming it to be "...about social transformation, one that asks the question: What is it to be human?" 

That sounds a bit blunt, but it fits well into the Romero-ian film universe, exploring social interaction and what drives an individual, or holds one back.

"Twilight of the Dead" is said to be produced and financed by Roundtable Entertainment, and filming is planned to start this year.

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/brad-anderson-direct-george-a-romero-twilight-of-the-dead-1235585266/ (as of 2023-09-15)

Wow, that's really good news - "Twilight of the Dead" is NOT vaporware!

Interestingly, the Internet Movie Database lists "Twilight of the Dead" among "Land of the Dead" (2005) working titles. This now makes obvious sense, but we can only speculate about the ideas George A. Romero originally had in mind for "Land of the Dead", and if he was able - or unable - to implement them.


Also note that "Paura nella citta dei morti viventi" (1980, Lucio Fulci, "City of the Living Dead", "The Gates of Hell") has a US pre-release title "Twilight of the Dead". Pictures of the movie poster can be found on the internet, but this movie is clearly unrelated to George A. Romero's "Twilight of the Dead".


Additional sources:





Review: Hercules in the Center of the Earth (1961, Mario Bava)

In order to cure his lover's insanity, Hercules goes on a mission into the underworld. There he must retrieve a magic stone, and face King Lico, who has teamed up with the dark forces...

"Hercules in the Center of the Earth" (or "...in the Haunted World") is fantasy horror movie with a lot of swords and sandals, and some comic relief. It's a bit of a mash up of Greek mythology, default fantasy material, and vampire horror. There are no actual vampires here, but some obvious references to that kind of movie culture, and with Christopher Lee as the main antagonist it has an extra bit of Hammer horror feel. There's not much character study to be found here. "Hercules in the..." is a low budget production depicting mythology - the dialog is a bit harsh, the humor is a bit wooden, as is the acting, the sets are cheap, and the muscles are shiny. 

To some, this may sound like "Hercules..." is a boring film, but unless you expect something very different, that is certainly not the case. With tons of styrofoam (or papier mache), paint, a handful of practical and camera effects, and loads of colored light, Mario Bava creates quite a spectacular picture of the underworld. His use of light is one of his trademarks - it's Technicolor on steroids, near-psychedelic, moody, and beautiful.

There are some bold shots of the scenery and architecture, Hercules meets some impressive adversaries, the women are (almost literally) goddesses - overall, "Hercules in the Center of the Earth" is very much a fantasy comic strip come alive, with a little bit of Dracula thrown in. It's cheap, but very bold, and for what it is, it works quite well. The story is of epic proportions, it moves forward steadily, has lots of action, some reasonably spooky horror elements, and great settings. What certainly stands out is the art direction: Decors, costumes, and most of all the fantastic use of light and color, together with some great cinematography, create a truckload of thick, dreamy atmosphere, the kind that can only be found in a Mario Bava movie. That's a lot of stuff to keep you captivated.

Verdict: Not too much substance, but highly watchable. 6/10


Trailer video:

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