, , , , , ,

Dracula (1958)

Dracula (1958)

Hammer Films not only made lurid melodramas and (for their time) sex-driven horror movies, they also produced lurid, sex-driven movie posters.  This poster, for the first in what would be seven movies featuring Christopher Lee as the titular bloodsucker, isn’t as daring as some that would follow, but in its own way it has a disturbing quality that perfectly matches, and complements, the mood of the movie it’s advertising.

First, there’s the woman, lying prone and unconscious, her neck and shoulders exposed, the intended victim who is unaware of the terrible thing that is about to be done to her.  She looks innocent, a perfect contrast to the beast in human form that has her in its clutches, the threat of its vampire fangs clearly visible, his intention equally clear: he is about to defile her innocence.  It’s a horrifying prospect: the woman is unable to defend herself and her fate is assured; she too will become a vampire.

The image has some clever touches.  There’s the bronzed, healthy skin tones of the woman which are in stark contrast to the unhealthy pallor of the vampire’s, his pale(r) flesh revealing another loss the woman will endure once she’s bitten.  And then there’s the proximity of Dracula’s hand at her neck: could it be there to caress her rather than keep her hair away from where he plans to bite her?  If so, this neatly ties in with the movie’s audacious tag line, its bold assertion giving rise to the idea that maybe Dracula wants more than just blood from his victim, that there’s another thrill involved here (they are both lying down); maybe the woman is a willing participant instead?

The warning in the bottom right hand corner is another clever piece of marketing, urging couples to see the movie, to experience the thrills and chills together (and thereby boost the box office).  The principal cast are given prominent billing, the director et al. appearing slightly less important as usual, and lastly there’s the added touch of the reminder that an X certificate movie is for adults only – perhaps as a further hint of the “terrifying love” that they’ll witness within the movie?

Agree?  Disagree?  Feel free to let me know.