Christopher Lee Dracula Death and Resurrection

Lee's First Appearance as Dracula

Christopher Lee’s Dracula first appears on screen atop a staircase in Dracula/Horror of Dracula (1958). He’s never resurrected and his origin is not known, but we know he is the embodiment of evil.

In the chapter The Traits and Practice of Vampirism in Montague Summers’ The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (re-printed 1960, University Books), Summers postulates that “all suicides might after death becomes vampires; and this was easily extended to those who met with any violent or sudden death”. Summers further cites that the traditional way of killing a vampire —a stake through the heart, stemmed from the English practice up to the time of King George IV, to bury the bodies of suicides at cross-roads with a stake driven through the body in order to keep the ghost from wandering abroad. Upon commenting on the “ethereal form” of the vampire he ruminates upon three hypotheses to be considered:

Does the body of the Vampire actually dematerialize and then re-integrate outside the grave?

Or, is another body built up by the Vampire quite independently of the body which remains behind in the grave?

Thirdly, does the spirit of the Vampire withdraw ectoplasmic material from his own body, which enables him to form more permanent corporeity by drawing yet further material from his victims?

Having recently watched all seven of the Christopher Lee Hammer Dracula films, I’m almost inclined to say that the Hammer writers were familiar with Summers’ writing on Vampirism, except we never really see the traditional pounding of a stake through the heart (like in Universal’s Dracula or a modern update with Carl Kolchak leaving waste to Janos Skorzeny) although there are some creative variations on the tried-and-true remedy for vampire elimination.  Beginning with Dracula/Horror of Dracula (1958), I’m going to look at each of the films and see how the dread Count is killed and subsequently resurrected in the sequels.

Dracula_Dust

In HOD, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) uses a Christian cross to pin Count Dracula into the purifying rays of sunlight.  Dracula melts away and crumbles into dust.  The dust blows aways. Dracula dies through DEATH BY SUNLIGHT (I).

DPOD_Resurrection 1

In the sequel Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966), a follower resurrects Dracula through hydration of his dust with the blood of a freshly slaughtered victim.  Dracula is RESURRECTION BY BLOOD (I). Clip Blood Awakening.

DPOD_Resurrection 2

DPOD_Resurrection 3

Later, the Count is trapped on an icey moat with running water, and slips into the frozen grave. Dracula ceases due to DEATH BY FLOWING WATER (I). In Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1968), the Count is discovered in ice, much like the Monster in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), and resurrected by a trickle of blood to the mouth. RESURRECTION BY BLOOD (II).

DHRFTG_Resurrection

He is killed falling and being skewered on a cross as a priest prays. Dracula dies for the first time through IMPALEMENT (I).

DHRFTG_Impailment

The next film Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) begins where DHRFTG left off, with Dracula squirming on a cross, but we see him die, desiccate and turn into a pile of dried blood, which is quickly purloined by the father of the brat (actor Roy Kinnear) in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Dracula’s blood ends up in a vial.

TTBOD_Blood in Vial

Later, Dracula’s blood is reconstituted in fresh human blood and drank by a wacko who dies and….TTBOD_Resurrection 2

halfway into the movie…. turns into Dracula. RESURRECTION BY BLOOD (III).

TTBOD_Resurrection

Dracula dies, oddly, surrounded by crosses and falls to his death on an altar. DEATH BY CROSS (I).  In the next film Scars of Dracula (1970) Dracula is reconstitued by the regurgitated blood of the world’s largest vampire bat, and is wounded by being impaled by an iron rod, struck by lightning and burned to death. RESURRECTION BY BLOOD (IV) and DEATH BY FIRE (I). Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) is fun in having two Dracula death scenes.  In the opening prologue Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) battles Dracula on a runaway coach and Dracula ends up impailed on a wagon-wheel and crumbles to dust. DEATH BY IMPALEMENT (II).

Dracula AD_Wheel

As Roger Ebert once pointed out, Hammer’s Dracula ended up a few times in glass vials. DAD1972 was no exception, but we know where this is headed….

Dracula AD_Vial of Dracula

A blood ritual involving the charming Caroline Munro’s breasts, Dracula’s remains and the removal of an old wagon wheel spoke result in RESURRECTION BY BLOOD (V).

Dracula AD_Grail of Blood and Dracula

Dracula AD_Dracula EmergesDracula is killed once more by Van Helsing who unleashes all hell on the Count, including a knife to the chest, holy water, impalement on a stake, and the strategic thrusts of a shovel. Dracula succumbs through DEATH BY IMPALEMENT (III).
Dracula AD_holy water

Dracula AD_Van Helsings Shovel

Finally, in The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974) the Count just appears in a mist (Van Helsing describes him as “rising like the Phoenix” and returning through reincarnation) and dies impaled on a spiney Hawthorn bush with a final fence rung to the heart by Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). DEATH BY IMPALEMENT (IV).

SROD_Blood Ritual Chicken

SROD_Impalement

Finally Tally:

Death

  • 4 Impalements (twice in Dracula AD 1972)
  • 1 Fire
  • 1 Sunlight
  • 1 Flowing Water
  • 1 Death by Cross

Resurrections

  • 5 Blood Rituals
  • 2 Dracula wasn’t resurrected

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