Veronica Carlson – Dracula’s Most Beautiful Victim

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Of all the lovely actresses that have appeared in the Hammer horror movies over the years, there is one particular lady that, for me, has just stood out from all the rest, and that is Veronica Carlson. With her long blonde hair, pretty eyes, fresh complexion and well-spoken British voice, Veronica Carlson just personified absolutely everything that the perfect Hammer horror actress should be.

Veronica’s first ever role in a Hammer movie was in the 1968 classic Dracula Has Risen from the Grave. One day James Carreras, the head of Hammer Films, spotted one of Veronica’s photographs in a newspaper and immediately contacted her to offer her the part of Maria in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave. This movie has long held a special place in the hearts of most Hammer fans, and I am certainly one of them! I have watched this movie many times over the years, and I still get the shudders when Maria has her first shocking confrontation with the newly resurrected Dracula in that creepy pub basement! Also, right through the movie, my heart was in my mouth, hoping that the lovely Maria would not get made a vampire (and, boy, did she come close to it a few times!) by the evil Count. Thankfully, she didn’t, and I never get tired of that wonderful finale, where Maria is saved in the nick of time from the vampire lord by her boyfriend, and Dracula is impaled on that giant crucifix. And what Hammer fan did not experience a great vicarious pleasure watching Paul embrace Maria as they watch Dracula perish? Classic stuff!

In addition to Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, Veronica also appeared in two other Hammer horror movies: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) – a movie in which her character, Anna, is tragically murdered by Baron Frankenstein – and The Horror of Frankenstein (1970). She has also appeared in various TV episodes, like The Saint and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

A few years after teaming up with him in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Veronica co-starred again with Peter Cushing – although on this occasion not in a Hammer film – in the 1975 horror movie, The Ghoul.

Following her Hammer years, Veronica hosted a documentary called Fangs: 100 Years of Vampires In The Movies. Unfortunately this documentary is now very hard to get, apart from a VHS version on an online store. As far as I know, it has never been officially released on dvd. We Hammer fans live in hope that one day it will!

In the book The Complete Peter Cushing, published in 2005, Veronica writes an excellent foreword about her acquaintance with the “gentle” man of horror.

Veronica Carlson is now retired from acting and living in South Carolina with her husband and three children. She now spends most of her time pursuing her hobby of painting portraits. She does still make the occasional guest appearance at horror movie conventions, and has often been photographed with fans, chatting and signing autographs.

In an age where far too many of today’s British horror movies are filled with excessive sex, violence and swearing from totally unlikeable, irritatingly coarse women – usually wayward and feral teens – it’s always a refreshing treat to pop in a Hammer DVD starring Veronica Carlson and reminisce, again and again, about just how beautiful and ladylike this extremely talented actress was, her innocent beauty impeccably accentuated and contrasted brilliantly against the menacing monsters presented by Lee’s Dracula or Cushing’s Frankenstein’s monster.

It’s such a great pity that we don’t see much of Veronica’s like again in the horror movies of today.

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