The priest follows Dracula's instructions, clubbing the Monsignor to death and incinerating the body of a local woman, but eventually he encourages the atheist hero Paul to plunge a stake into the heart of the vampire. We then have the following fascinating exchange: Priest: You must pray. Paul: I can't! Priest: You must! You must - or he won't die. Paul: You pray! You're a priest - you pray!
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Dracula is able to pull the stake from his heart because the film implies faith is crucial. Later the priest's faith returns when he comes across Dracula impaled on a metal cross, and, like Muller at the beginning of the film, he prays and performs a rite of exorcism. The Count is destroyed.
Perhaps sometimes people are allowed to be afraid because, according to The Brides of Dracula , only God Himself has no fear. But they are very much the exceptions, and it is perhaps not surprising that ecclesiastical buildings are often shown being penetrated by the evil of the vampire. Ludwig's presence in the monastery right from the start of Dracula Prince of Darkness is a foretaste of the vampire's own brand of explosive vengeance as he seeks to destroy, from within, all that opposes him.
Hammer’s 1958 Dracula is being re-released
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave begins with a body, drained of blood, being discovered in the bell of a church one is tempted to ask how it got there as the place is positively bristling with crucifixes. Despite Muller's claim that "There is no evil in the house of God", it becomes clear that buildings can be 'spiritually' attacked and abused as easily as the people that attend the services. The church building is no more than a 'shell' encapsulating the attitudes of the populace much use is made in later Dracula films of the desanctified church , and thus the 'un-Christian' attitudes of the populace ignorance and superstitious fear find an expression in the defilement of the local place of worship.
In Dracula the Count penetrates and subverts that other key Victorian unit, the family. A fascinating sequence has Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood trying to protect Mina from the attentions of the fiend by watching the outside of the house when he is in fact resting comfortably in his coffin in the Holmwoods' cellar.
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Such implied liberation from repression is also found in Dracula Prince of Darkness , which sees Helen freed from prim, Victorian respectability to become a sexually-attractive and voracious vampire. However, this new-found beauty is grotesque and hollow. She only finds peace when staked in the time-honoured fashion in a scene that has been described variously as a metaphor for the subjection of the flesh Pirie or an obscene ecclesiastical parody of a gang-rape Prawer. In Dracula the 'vampire bride' is impaled with a stake and crumbles into an aged hag.
Terence Fisher was by no means the first director to see the vampire as representing the repressed 'other' of Victorian society - as we shall go on to see, this Freudian theme comes to the fore in Peter Sasdy's work - but the clarity of Fisher's vision makes the contrast especially clear.
In Dracula the vampire is eventually destroyed by a crucifix which "symbolises the power of good over evil" and sunlight.
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Moral uprightness has flirted with the surface attraction of sin but has rejected it. In The Brides of Dracula this religious symbolism is expanded slightly, so Meinster is destroyed by having holy water thrown into his face in the pattern of a cross, and then falling into the cross-forming shadow of a windmill's blades. Although Van Helsing again speaks of the power of "good" rather than of "God", the meaning is clear enough. The words spoken on his arrival - "Thank God you've come" - might seem like casual semi-blasphemy, but later dialogue precisely analyses the literalism of such phrases.
The man exclaims "Oh my God! I will forever end this man's reign of terror": later, Van Helsing says " We'll succeed. Harker was always doomed to failure because, the original script of Dracula informs us, he was "mad and blasphemous". However, according to R. Dillard, Van Helsing "prevails over the personifications of evil, not because he is superior to [them] Despite human weakness, evil is always overcome. In Dracula Has Risen from the Grave the atheist hero and the doubting priest are reminded that faith can indeed kill monsters the final shot is a beautifully-composed image of the huge golden cross, prominent and victorious against a dark background, glowing in the light, Dracula's crumpled cape at its base.
In Fisher's films in particular evil can have a surface attraction, but the superficiality of this is always revealed in the end. Terence Fisher once said that "If my films reflect on my personal view of the world in any way, it is in their showing of the ultimate victory of good over evil, in which I do believe. It may take human beings a long time to achieve this, but I do believe that this is how events work out in the end.
Christopher Lee has stated that the ultimate destruction of evil in Hammer films explains "why the Church doesn't object to these films, and why they are so popular in Ireland, Spain and Italy. Attitudes to matters of faith and death are at the heart of the vampire film's appeal and on-going power.
Part Two: Later Variations In the first part of this article we examined certain religious aspects of the 'world view' of the early Hammer vampire film. Freddie Francis' Dracula Has Risen from the Grave , with its atheist hero, ultimately endorsed these values as Paul's unbelief comes face-to-face with the fact that a faith in God seems to kill the vampire. Those familiar with film theory will have recognised some of the hallmarks of auteur theory. This basically sees some directors as 'authors', shaping a range of work to conform to a personal vision.
To be sure, the script is the vital spark that ignites any film, but movies are primarily visual and it is difficult to over-estimate the importance of the director in fanning that flame. Both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee acclaimed Terence Fisher's willingness to listen to the actors, and it is now well-known that the final sequence of Dracula is far removed from the brief battle in the original script see Hammer Horror issue 1 and Bob Sheridan's article quoted in the bibliography.
Ronald V. Borst has shown that Fisher made many other changes to the script, making dialogue and action changes here and there and cutting entire lengthy scenes. Gay, lesbian, and trans characters were conveniently slotted in as murderers in movies like Dressed to Kill , Deadly Blessings , Heart of Midnight , The Fan , Cruising , and more.
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- The Role of Sexuality in the British Vampire Films by Hammer on Apple Books.
With the fight for equality on a collision course with the family values appeal of the Ronald Reagan era, sexuality either the expression or the alleged perversion of it stayed connected to frightening violence, and the gritty turn toward graphic violence ushered in by filmmakers like Tobe Hooper The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wes Craven Last House on the Left made the genre more explicitly violent at a mainstream level than ever before.
Coming fully into his power, Andrew goes into his final showdown against a Catholic surrogate in full glam makeup while wearing a sheer black cape and gown. Also, the Virgin Mary appears to Gerard in a dream and warns him away from Christine, since she might be a murderer. Calling it subtext would be generous, especially when Jesse ends up confronting his male gym teacher in a gay bar, and the abundance of queer imagery.
Fright Night When the handsome closeted vampire Jerry Dandridge Chris Sarandon moves into the neighborhood, the boy next door becomes so fixated on knowing more about him that he starts to ignore his girlfriend. And while vampirism has always been an avatar for queer characters, Jerry and his manservant Billy actually pretend to be a posh gay couple to ingratiate themselves with the neighbors.
This text! This sub text! But as the story unfolds and the game becomes more of a threat, it becomes clear that the real love story at the heart of Witchboard revolves around the two estranged friends. The Lost Boys Horror cinema served up plenty of gay lady vampires, mostly in the service of the straight male gaze, but Lost Boys gave us the as-yet-rare hive of quite queer blood-sucking boys. Queer cinema went through a distinct transformation in the s with the arrival of what B. Paris Is Burning chronicled the experiences of trans black and Hispanic participants of drag ball culture in New York.
My Private Idaho made stars of male prostitutes.
Lethal lesbians were made into complex heroes in movies like Heavenly Creatures , Fun , and Butterfly Kiss. Nightbreed The story of Aaron Boone Craig Sheffer , a man haunted by dreams about a city of monsters, is essentially a coming-out story about a guy realizing his true nature: that of a queer monster who is fated to join his brethren and defeat a serial murderer. Brothers and sisters, it is time to fight! Silence of the Lambs The activist group Queer Nation protested the Oscars in part because of the nominations for Silence of the Lambs.
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Excellent filmmaking by Jonathan Demme, to be sure, but also the immortalization of one of the most frightening queer monsters in film history. Interview With the Vampire As we know, vampire movies are very queer at baseline. What a modern family! Van Helsing. Heavenly Creatures This early career entry from Peter Jackson features both a queer coming-of-age story and a pair of lethal lesbians. This model of angry LGBTQ killer is controversial in that it plays into the stereotype of the criminal queer, but also explores a rage that might be viewed as righteously manifested in the face of oppression.
PDF The Role of Sexuality in the British Vampire Films by Hammer
While the film received a mixed-to-poor review from the New York Times , its critic did issue some light praise, too. The 21st century brought welcome changes into horror, with queer characters beginning to exist as actual protagonists in their stories instead of being relegated to roles as outcasts, demons, sexual deviants, lustful mass murderers, tragic victims, and so on. Queer characters had friends and social structures. Similarly, gays in horror movies could just go camping with their friends — and worry about psycho killers who were just good old-fashioned horror-movie maniacs, instead of moralizing sin hunters or trans people made terrifying.
In the style of Friday the 13th, the ladies start getting picked off as they sort out the interpersonal drama of everyone on the trip having dated the birthday girl, Susan Moynan King. Joey, Chaz, Tobey, Eddie, and Jake are just a group of guys celebrating Halloween in West Hollywood when a madman goes off and starts taking people out. Watch this with Make a Wish as a double feature and reminisce about the gay slasher wave of the aughts.
Seed of Chucky Glen or Glenda is the name of a Ed Wood film about a man played by Wood coming out as a cross-dresser to his wife. There are female love interests in this movie, but also — are there? All the meaningful conflict exists between boys fighting over the role of magic in their lives and brooding together in swim class while Kitsch wears the smallest possible swimsuit.
Sorry, cis-het folks, this one has been claimed by the gays. For plenty more gay thirst-trap horror and perhaps the true origin of the murder twink? One woman even asks one of her guests flat-out what he thinks of the sanctity of marriage. Gay Bed and Breakfast, finally, puts the queers on the right side of the battle between good and evil. Eli becomes the only companion of Oskar, and takes the role of his protector.
After growing close, Oskar asks Eli if she will be his girlfriend, only to learn Eli is not a girl. Undeterred, Oskar still asks if he and Eli can be together. The two find solidarity in a shared sense of otherness, and see their mutual queerness as something to love rather than something to fear. Zombie , a hard-core adult horror film about a shape-shifting alien zombie who finds his way to Los Angeles and awakens the dead with regenerative sexual powers.
When Jennifer Check Megan Fox is turned into a demon by a blood sacrifice gone wrong, she begins feeding on men and only men to stay young and vital. In the early s, movies like Hellbent and Make a Wish centered on queer stories with queer characters, who, even if they met bad horror-movie ends, were blatantly out of the closet — and not being targeted for their sexual identifications.
Queerness has appeared more and more often as a simple character detail instead of a monstrous affect, and queer sex has even been rendered with more intention than just salacious voyeurism. And with a renewed rise in social conservatism, the blunt force of horror cinema will be an essential art form in reframing and critiquing who the real monsters in society are.
This is the dream of coded mid-century monster films fulfilled. All Cheerleaders Die All Cheerleaders Die is a rape-revenge story disguised as a zombie teen-screams movie. Maddy Caitlin Stasey is a gay high-school student who charms her way into befriending the cheerleading team in a long-con effort to take down Terry Tom Williamson , the star football player. Vampires of Warsaw Wampiry Warszawy.