Dracula is a 1958 British horror film directed by Terence Fisher and written by Jimmy Sangster based on Bram Stoker's novel of the same name. The first in the series of Hammer Horror films starring Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, this original also features Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Helsing, along with Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, and John Van Eyssen. In the U.S. the film was retitled Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the earlier Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi, and the film was released in the U.S. in 1958 on a double bill with the Universal film The Thing That Couldn't Die.
Production began at Bray Studios on 17 November 1957 with an investment of £81,000. As Count Dracula, Lee fixed the image of the fanged vampire in popular culture. In 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine saw it ranked the 65th best British film ever.
Dracula was a critical and commercial success upon its release and was well received by critics and fans of Stoker's works. The film currently scores 91% on review aggregatorwebsite Rotten Tomatoes based on 32 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's consensus states: "Trading gore for grandeur, Horror of Dracula marks an impressive turn for inveterate Christopher Lee as the titular vampire, and a typical Hammer mood that makes aristocracy quite sexy."
The trade journal reviews from 1958 were very positive. Film Bulletin noted, "As produced by Anthony Hinds in somber mid-Victorian backgrounds . . . and directed by Terence Fisher with an immense flair for the blood-curdling shot, this Technicolor nightmare should prove a real treat. The James Bernard score is monumentally sinister and the Jack Asher photography full of foreboding atmosphere."
Harrison's Reports was particularly enthusiastic, "Of all the "Dracula" horror pictures thus far produced, this one, made in Britain and photographed in Technicolor, tops them all. Its shock impact is, in fact, so great that it may well be considered as one of the best horror films ever made. What makes this picture superior is the expert treatment that takes full advantage of the story's shock values."
Vincent Canby in Motion Picture Daily said, "Hammer Films, the same British production unit which last year restored Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to its rightful place in the screen's chamber of horrors, has now even more successfully brought back the granddaddy of all vampires, Count Dracula. It's chillingly realistic in detail (and at times as gory as the law allows). The physical production is first rate, including the settings, costumes, Eastman Color photography and special effects.".