Returning to the Return of Dracula

I was born in 1958, a tail-end Baby Boomer, and as a young boy—evidently like a lot of others—I faithfully read Famous Monsters of Filmland every month and spent an inordinate amount of time watching horror movies on WPIX channel 11, WNEW channel 5, and WOR channel 9—all local channels out of New York City.

This, of course, was when there were only seven channels. Choice was small, but horror movies were plentiful. Chiller Theater, which ran Saturday nights on WPIX, had particularly great opening credits before the movie rolled.

This is the one from 1961, which scared the hell out of me when I was 5.

And this one is from the early 1970s (I think). Note that the hand has six fingers.

One of my favorite movies from boyhood is The Return of Dracula, coincidentally made the year I was born. A low-budget black and white film, it has an interesting premise. The plot liberally borrows from Alfred Hitchcock's earlier Shadow of a Doubt starring Joseph Cotton as "Uncle Charlie," who turns out not to be the old sweet fella' that he seems. For The Return of Dracula, the Count himself is given the "Uncle Charlie" role.


Playing Dracula is Francis Lederer, an actor from what is now the Czech Republic who you probably have never heard of, but he was very busy both on stage and screen according to WikiPedia  and only died in the year 2000 at the age of 100. His portrayal of the Count is, next to Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, and Louis Jordan, the best in cinema.

While Olive Films is shortly putting out a blu-ray of The Return of Dracula for aficionados, you can watch it right now on YouTube.

Amazingly, and much to my delight in 1971 (by then I was 14), I was watching the second series of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, and in the episode "The Devil is Not Mocked," who showed up but Francis Lederer, reprising the role of Dracula, this time during Nazi Germany.


It didn't seem as if he'd aged a day since The Return of Dracula; wish I could say the same! It's here on hulu.