Dracula, lets be honest, even though he’s one of the most iconic characters in all of horror, there have been a lot of bad movies made about him. By bad I mean poorly acted and dull. Lets be honest about one other thing. The book he’s based on, is also very dull in my opinion. Dracula is, in all actuality a Character that is a bit harder to translate into films than you may think. Of course he is a vampire so you are already catering to the horror crowd, but the book is essentially a diary that’s all about a love story. So you have to blend romance into it as well. Hammer Studios churned out some of the best versions, But in 1979 all the cards fell into place and Universal Studios put together an amazing film, one of, if not the best Dracula film made. Boasting a stellar cast in Frank Langella, Donald Pleasence, and Laurence Olivier and featuring a score from John Williams, this Dracula had it all.
Dracula opens with The Count arriving in Transylvania by ship when he is seen by Mina Van Helsing. He immediately takes notice of her and her friend Lucy and soon finds his way into her family’s home. That home is also a large castle that doubles as the town looney bin. Dracula is invited in and joins Lucy and her family for dinner. Its clear from the get go that Lucy has developed a crush on Dracula, something John, her fiancé does not exactly like. After everyone separates for the night Dracula returns to bite Mina and drink her blood so he can turn her into one of his undead brides. When her body is first found The local Doctor calls Minas father, Abraham Van Helsing to help investigate. He knows right away its the work of a vampire. Investigating further they find her coffin empty and Mina half changing in one of the tunnels below the city. Sadly Van Helsing is forced to kill his daughter before she can fully transform.
Lucy meanwhile is now completely under Draculas charm and goes to his castle to profess her love for him. The two spend the night together (In a weird dream like sequence) and Dracula bites her so she may now become his unholy bride. She is rescued by Van Helsing and with the help of the town doctor she is given a blood transfusion, which will only slow her transformation. She remains under Dracula’s spell. Dracula is now after Lucy so he can complete the transformation while Johnathan and Van Helsing are determined to kill Dracula so Lucy can return back to normal.
Fantastic is all I can say. From top to bottom this is THE Dracula movie to watch. Frank Langella gives a tremendous performance as Dracula. Smooth, bloodthirsty, romantic, and a kill all rolled into one. I truly believe this is the best portrayal of Dracula I have ever seen. Nothing is played to cheesy or over the top. This is the perfect way to portray the character and Langella does a marvelous job. Laurence Olivier is equally as good in his role as Abraham Van Helsing. A loving father and vengeful vampire slayer, everything is played serious. Donald Pleasence is also great as Dr Seward, who is helping to aid Van Helsing in the rescue of Lucy. The entire cast is good from top to bottom.
The score from John Williams is great. Its such a tense haunting melody it only adds to the horror of the film. And now thanks to Scream Factory you can hear this amazing score in surround sound as they are giving this Dracula the treatment that only they can. A beautiful transfer where everything looks and sounds amazing. The colors are stunning as everything just looks so gorgeous. This film looks as impress today as it did all those years ago. And once again that soundtrack sounds so good coming through your speakers, its worth the price of the disc alone. Not to just settle with an amazing transfer Scream Factory has also knocked it out of the park with special features on this two disc set featuring bother the original and desaturated version of the film.
DISC ONE: DESATURATED COLOR TIMING
NEW Introduction By Director John Badham
NEW King Of My Kind – An Interview With John Badham
NEW What Sad Music – An Interview With Writer W.D. Richter
NEW Dracula’s Guest – An Interview With Camera Assistant Jim Alloway
NEW Interview With Editor John Bloom
NEW Interview With Make-Up Artist Peter Robb-King
NEW Interview With Hair Stylist Colin Jamison
NEW Interview With Assistant Director Anthony Waye
NEW Interview With Production Manager Hugh Harlow
Audio Commentary With Director John Badham
The Revamping Of Dracula Featurette
DISC TWO: ORIGINAL THEATRICAL COLOR TIMING
NEW 4K Scan Of The Best Available Original Film Elements
NEW Introduction By Director John Badham
NEW Audio Commentary By Film Historian/Filmmaker Constantine Nasr
Dracula is a great timeless character and in my opinion this is the best version I have ever seen of him. Well-acted, well scored, and simply well made. This is a fan for not only horror fans, but fans of film in general. This manages to capture all the elements that make Dracula what it needs to be and then some. Add this to your collection right away.
Overall 4.5 out of 5 Stars!