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Dracula (1958)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Central Europe, 1885. Jonathan Harker sets off for Castle Dracula to take up the job of cataloguing the Count's extensive library. Upon arrival, the castle appears deserted, but a meal has been left for him, accompanied by a letter from Dracula apologising for his absence.

As he eats, Harker is interrupted by a young woman, who asks for his help. She tells him that Dracula is an evil man who keeps her prisoner. Dracula interrupts their conversation, an apparently suave and charming nobleman. The woman runs away, terrified.

Dracula shows Harker the castle. He appears interested in the photograph of Harker's fiancée, Lucy Holmwood. Dracula locks Harker in his room. In his diary, Harker reveals that he is a vampire hunter, come to the castle to kill Dracula.

Later that night, Harker finds that the door has been unlocked. Whilst exploring the castle, he comes across the young woman again. She begs for his help, but then tries to drink his blood. Dracula interrupts them, beating the woman and knocking Harker unconscious. When Harker awakes, he sees that the woman has bitten his neck. Realising that it is only a matter of time before he too becomes a vampire, he finds the vampires' coffins in the cellar. He hammers a stake through the woman's heart, but finds the Count's casket empty. As night falls, he is trapped in the cellar with Dracula.

A couple of weeks later, Dr. Van Helsing, Harker's colleague, arrives at a nearby tavern. The villagers are hostile, refusing to talk to him, except for a barmaid who hands him Harker's diary, found at a crossroads. Van Helsing goes to Castle Dracula, where he finds the dead woman and a vampirised Harker. He hammers a stake through Harker's heart.

Back in England, Van Helsing visits the Holmwoods, Arthur and Mina, to tell them that Harker has died. Lucy has been confined to bed with a mysterious wasting illness. That night, she throws open her bedroom windows and waits for Dracula to visit her.

Dissatisfied with her doctor's diagnosis of Lucy's illness, Mina goes to Van Helsing for help. Spotting bite marks on Lucy's throat, Van Helsing orders her to lock all the windows and to decorate the girl's bedroom with garlic flowers.

That night, Lucy persuades the Holmwoods' housekeeper to open the windows and dispose of the garlic. Dracula comes to her and drains the remainder of her blood. Her dead body is found in the morning.

Van Helsing tells the Holmwoods about Count Dracula, how Harker really died, and what has now befallen Lucy. Arthur is angry and incredulous, but his attitude soon changes when a policeman brings back the housekeeper's daughter, who has been lured into the woods by Lucy.

Arthur visits his sister's grave, to convince himself that Van Helsing is wrong. Instead, he sees Lucy leading the little girl to the crypt. She attacks him, but Van Helsing emerges from hiding and burns her with a crucifix. Retreating to her grave, Holmwood and Van Helsing argue over whether to let Lucy lead them to Dracula, or to release her from the curse of the undead. Arthur cannot bear to see his sister in this condition, so they hammer a stake through her heart.

Holmwood and Van Helsing set off for Ingstadt, to check with Customs where Dracula's coffin has been sent. Meanwhile, a messenger tells Mina to visit her husband at the local undertaker's. While there, she is attacked by Dracula.

Holmwood and Van Helsing discover that the coffin has been sent to the local undertakers, but when they get her it has been moved. Returning home, they discover that Dracula has bitten Mina, when a crucifix burns her hand. Unbeknownst to them, Dracula's coffin is now hidden in the house's cellar.

Dracula kidnaps Mina and speeds to his castle; Holmwood and Van Helsing set off in pursuit. Arriving at the castle, Holmwood rescues Mina, while Van Helsing fights Dracula. As morning approaches, Van Helsing uses a pair of candlesticks as a makeshift crucifix and forces Dracula into the sunlight. As the Count disintegrates into a pile of dust, Mina's crucifix burn disappears.