To many Dracula Has Risen from the Grave is the start of the decline in the Hammer Dracula series. With the man who gave Dracula new life, Terence Fisher, being replaced by director Freddie Francis who willingly admitted he didn't like making horror films and Christopher Lee being begged to return it's clear that Dracula's rising from the grave was only another attempt to suck more money out of a declining franchise.
The story begins with the arrival of the Monsignor to the small town that Dracula had terrorized in the previous film (Dracula Prince of Darkness). His journey was simply to check on the well being of the church and the people following the recent destruction of Dracula. But to his surprise the town's people are no longer attending church and still as frightened as ever that Castle Dracula possesses some form of evil, to the point that even the shadow being cast upon the church somehow permeates it's walls with evil.
In an attempt to calm their spirits the Monsignor takes the town's priest and travels up to the castle, says a few Latin phrases and sticks a cross on the castle door, sealing in any of the evil that may still remain. Too bad Dracula's not in the castle, but is laying beneath a block of ice a short distance below the castle. The priest that accompanied the Monsignor elected to stay a ways behind, and as a storm starts rolling in he falls, cuts his forehead and blood drips into a crack in the ice, right into Dracula's mouth (what a coincidence!). Now Dracula is back, but he's been shut out of his castle by the Monsignor's spell and the cross. Only the Monsignor or his next of kin can remove the hold on his castle, and he'll do whatever it takes to see that it happens.
Up to this point the Dracula series has been consistently average, nothing remotely spectacular but at least it's been entertaining and fairly well written. Dracula Has Risen from the Grave is the first sign that all that is beginning to change. As a whole the story is simply another recycled Dracula revenge tale, with Dracula traveling outside his castle and doing the same thing he's done in the last two films. In the past at least there have been some interesting supporting characters, awesome sets and locations, and a rather creepy vibe, none of that is here in fact this film is actually quite boring from beginning to end.
Once again Lee is absent from most of the film and while this time around he has a few lines, the whole staring at people with bloodshot eyes and mouth agape is beginning to grow old. In fact, Dracula is beginning to feel quite one dimensional and like a one trick pony in the Hammer franchise, and it doesn't help matters that the stories never seem to incorporate anything new.