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THE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958) – Episode 136 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“There is only one reality, Rachel, and that is death. I bring you death, a living death.” Living death? Oxymorons abound in vampire flicks. Join this episode’s Grue-Crew – Chad Hunt, Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff, and Jeff Mohr, along with guest host Dave Dreher – as they take in this alternative version of the bloodthirsty Count as depicted in director Paul Landres’s The Return of Dracula (1958).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 136 – The Return of Dracula (1958)

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After a vampire leaves his native Balkans, he murders a Czech artist, assumes his identity, and moves in with the dead man’s American cousins.

The Return of Dracula, from Gramercy Pictures and United Artists, was chosen by Dave Dreher because of the effect it had on him while watching at his grandmother’s house as a young boy. He was mesmerized by the silhouette of a man with just his eyes bathed in light. The silhouetted man, the hand coming out of the coffin, the coffin filled with smoke, and other haunting images became the keystone of what he thinks of as classic horror and motivated him to go back and watch the Universal Horror offerings. To this day, he still holds The Return of Dracula in high regard.

Daphne describes the film as “wonderful.” She loves the ordinary folks placed in this bizarre situation and atmosphere and applauds Francis Lederer’s performance as the devilish, but debonair Count. Chad describes The Return of Dracula as answering the question, what if we dropped Dracula into the middle of a 1950s sitcom? From the outside, the film looks like a throwaway Dracula movie, but it is amazingly well-written by Pat Fielder and is well worth a watch. He describes Francis Lederer’s performance as stealing the show. He really believed this charismatic and magnetic personality as this evil slimy villain against the dichotomy of this wholesome family backdrop. You might think The Return of Dracula is a bit lame if you’re not paying attention, according to Jeff, but he too loves Francis Lederer as well as the family dynamics and the great character actors. Topping it off is the excellent writing from Pat Fielder.

Anyone viewing or listening to a podcast on classic horror will most certainly enjoy The Return of Dracula. At the time of this writing, the film can be streamed from Dailymotion or a Vudu PPV option and is available on physical media as an Olive Films Blu-ray.

Please check out these Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s podcasts on other vampire movies:

Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era records a new episode every two weeks. Up next in their very flexible schedule and chosen by guest host Richard Klemensen, the owner and publisher of Little Shoppe of Horrors: The Journal of Classic British Horror Films, will be Hammer’s The Brides of Dracula (1960). Also joining us will be Alistair Hughes, author and illustrator of Infogothic: An Unauthorised Graphic Guide to Hammer Horror and frequent illustrator for Little Shoppe of Horrors. This should be a fun episode. You won’t want to miss it!

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Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.