Atheism is no match for Catholicism in Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, the third installment of Hammer studio’s crimson-smeared vampire saga starring Christopher Lee as the lascivious hemoglobin-guzzling Count Dracula. Twelve months after the events of the last film, a priest finds a woman with bite marks hanging dead inside his church bell, a discovery that further convinces the parishioners that this place of worship – which is touched at dusk by the shadow of Dracula’s castle – is tainted by the unholy. A visiting Monsignor, disgusted by the townsfolk’s fear of an already vanquished monster, takes the priest up to the Count’s castle and places a giant golden cross across the door, though not before a storm causes the priest to fall down the mountain and bleed, conveniently, on the shattered ice that was imprisoning Dracula. Free to resume his demonic business, the Count goes after the Monsignor and his pretty blond niece Anna, who’s in love – much to the Monsignor’s disapproval – with a God-denying baker studying to be a doctor or professor (or something else “intellectual”).
Lee’s enormous cold eyes turn deep scarlet when his bloodlust is aroused, and, as in Dracula: Prince of Darkness, he “turns” a promiscuous woman but really has a craving for the pure, undefiled juices of the virginal Anna. A scene in which he mounts Anna (who’s splayed out on a bed) and rubs his face and mouth against hers before engaging in some pointy-toothed necking is indicative of the film’s more pronounced concentration on the sexual aspects of Dracula’s appetite. Freddie Francis’ direction employs a visual schema that’s both decadently classy and decrepitly moldy, but there’s just not enough of Lee’s Dracula – who, as in later films, becomes almost a side character – to sustain one’s interest throughout the sometimes tedious expository scenes featuring Paul and his co-workers at the local tavern. Although he shares with his nemesis an aversion to religious iconography, Paul eventually crosses himself in a sign of holy conversion after impaling Dracula on a gigantic cross, thereby providing a triumphant conclusion – for believers, at least – in which noble faith conquers that wretched condition known as godlessness.