Why Lee Returned for Dracula Has Risen

For showtimes, click here

You can’t keep a ghoul man down. Or at least, that’s how it seems. Hammer Horror brought back their popular villain in 1968 to once again wreak havoc.

1. The rules changed.

The original title was simply Risen from Dead, and indeed, Dracula came back to life – though a little different. Dracula was unaffected by a stake when his assailant wasn’t religious. Dracula also had a shadow and was apparently able to cross holy ground (though it isn’t shown on screen).

2. Christopher Lee wasn’t keen on sequels.

By this point, Lee had played Hammer's infamous vampire twice (read about his debut here). Hammer executive Jimmy Carreras coaxed the star into playing the vampire again, stressing the importance of the film to the company and crew members dependent on them. Lee jokingly referred to it as “emotional blackmail.” Lee wished that Dracula incorporated more of the Bram Stoker source material. After this movie, Lee would reprise the villain in four more movies (read about Dracula A.D. 1972 here).

3. The original director was replaced.

Terence Fisher, who shaped the first Dracula and Frankenstein films, was going to lead the 165,000 pound production. However, one broken leg later, and director Freddie Francis took the helm. This was the first film in the franchise that Fisher didn't direct.

4. Christopher Lee was anything but a diva.

Lee’s vision of Dracula sometimes differed with the script. For instance, he thought seeing Dracula getting out of his coffin would ruin his suave image (imagine if he tripped…). However, even when his opinion didn’t make the cut, Lee performed his best, even donning the red contacts that irritated his eyes.

5. There was more of a love story.

After filming ended, the director took a vacation, and when he returned, the film had been edited. The relationship between Paul and Maria was significantly trimmed.  “I was more interested in the love affair between the boy and the girl than with Dracula. He was just a fly in the ointment,” said Francis.

6. The film had a harder rating across the pond.

For British audiences, the rating was “X” (or for those older than 16 years of age). In America, the film was rated G! While the horror sequences are mild by today’s standards, Dracula was still a blood-thirsty villain.

7. Hammer got an award four days before filming.

Hammer was the recipient of the Queen’s Award to Industry for Export Achievement on April 21, 1968, making them the first film company to receive the honor. “After all these years of denigration and sneers from the industry, we have shown beyond a doubt that our films are as popular as any made all over the world,” said Lee. In fact, they were more than five million pounds popular.

8. Lee celebrated his birthday on set.

Lee was in the middle of a scene as Dracula very deep in character when suddenly the lights went out, and everyone gathered to sing Happy Birthday with a cake. Lee had everyone laughing by rising from his prop grave dripping with blood.