This 1960 Hammer Dracula film isn't one of the best (I haven't actually seen 'The Horror of Dracula', oddly enough. It seems pretty hard to find), and it commits the cardinal sin of not having Christopher Lee (probably my favourite horror movie actor, and a damn fine actor in any genre) in it. However, it does have some merit nonetheless, and doesn't even feature Dracula himself, anyway.
In this outing, David Peel plays a charming young vampire locked up by his Baroness mother (Marita Hunt, who steals the show), until the virginal (because a virgin's a terrible thing to waste!) Andree Melly lets him loose. Thankfully, Prof. Van Helsing (Hammer stalwart Peter Cushing, quite lively compared to latter films) just so happens to be in the vicinity to kick some vampire butt...or something like that. Great smaller roles are filled by Freda Jackson (as a harpy-like servant, in a wonderfully hammy performance) and Miles Malleson as the local doctor.
The performances are terrific, though Peel is only adequate in a pretty important role. However, his relationship with his mother Hunt provides some very intriguing moments, some ideas and scenes here being perhaps among the best in the Hammer series of Dracula films. Melly is not much better than Peel in the acting department, but she looks like a prettier Barbara Steele and I was too busy staring at her to really notice any acting deficiencies.
The film looks amazing, with kudos to the colour cinematography by Jack Asher, who worked on Hammer's first 'Dracula' film among other films. The costumes are also gorgeous, the bold use of colour actually reminded me more of Roger Corman' cycle of Poe films, most of which I've watched in recent months. The film does have a pretty atrocious ending, but I guess the idea was too irresistible at the time (you'll know what I mean when you see it).
A good film, despite Lee's absence, but this one takes a fair while to get going, focusing more on characters and dialogue than many of the latter (somewhat less well made, and yet sometimes more entertaining) Hammer films in the series. Very attractive, well-acted, and quite entertaining overall, but imagine how much better it'd be with Lee (and Dracula himself) in it.