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The "Curse of Dracula" episodes from the "Cliff Hangers" series were SO GOOD that after the series ended, I went scrambling to try to find a copy of them. Feature-length movies were made out of the episodes, including "World of Dracula" and "The Loves of Dracula." Michael Nouri, who played Dracula in the episodes, had to have been the GREATEST actor to play Dracula on the silver screen (big or small.) The acting in these episodes was OUTSTANDING, the special effects were amazing (even by today's standards), the scripts RIVETING, the music crisp and moving, and HOW I WISH THAT UNIVERSAL WOULD RELEASE THE MOVIES MADE OUT OF THE "CURSE OF DRACULA" episodes on DVD or VHS!!! THIS SERIES IS NOT TO BE MISSED, it was so GOOD that I remember it even though I saw it when it first aired on television in 1979!!! I give the "Curse of Dracula" TWO THUMBS UP, A TEN OUT OF TEN. Even if you are not a fan of Dracula, you will LOVE THIS SERIES because it has everything: action, romance, drama, comedy, and tragedy. THIS IS MY FAVORITE SERIES OF ALL TIME!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cliffhangers was an interesting, but failed experiment to revive the
thrills and drama of the old movie serials. The show lasted an hour and
was split into three segments: Curse of Dracula, Stop Susan Williams,
and The Secret Empire. of these three segments, Curse of Dracula was by
far the best.
The series appears to start in mid-story, with Mary Gibbons and Kurt Van Helsing trapped by Dracula in a burning barn. They make their escape and begin hunting Dracula and his resting places anew. The series is set in and around San Francisco, where Dracula is masquerading as a professor of Eastern European history. His lectures are vivid accounts of life in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the kind of detail that can only come from experience. Mary tries to infiltrate his class, but is easily spotted. As the series progresses, Mary is torn between an attraction to Dracula and the knowledge of what he is. Van Helsing is almost single-minded in his attempt to destroy Dracula. Mary is bitten twice and needs only the third to become immortal. Will she succumb to Dracula's temptations? The series featured good writing and decent acting, with Michael Nouri as the standout, as Dracula. He is very charming and has a charisma that befits the character. You believe that he is in love with Mary. The rest of the cast is fine, although much of the dialogue comes across as a bit silly. The interactions between Mary and Dracula are devoid of this, though.
This segment proved strong enough for repeats in their own right, with chapters collected together for longer specials, under the title Dracula '79, and later in features. It had great potential for a longer series, but the ratings on Cliffhangers was never strong and the series was cancelled without airing the final episode in the US, although Curse of Dracula did reach its conclusion in the final broadcast episode.
The San Francisco setting was perfect, as the dark and foggy environment lent a moody atmosphere to the show (even though it looks like it was filmed in Los Angeles).
In all, this was an entertaining series that is worth a look. There is no DVD version, but would make a great combination with other cult series in a collectors pack. I have seen it advertised on ebay, with the final episode of the series (from overseas broadcast), that was never broadcast in the US (featring the conclusions of Stop Susan Williams and The Secret Empire).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
NBC aired a series called "Cliffhangers" in 1979, consisting of three
stories: "Stop Susan Williams," "The Secret Empire," and "The Curse of
Dracula." Of the 3, only "The Curse of Dracula" completed its story
(Although when the series first aired, It was already on Chapter VI
(But then, none of the three started on its first chapter).
When the series begins we meet Kurt Von Helsing (Stephen Johnson)and Mary Gibbons (Carol Baxter)going after Dracula's coffins. Dracula (Michael Nouri)almost gets them, but they escape. Mary's vendetta against Dracula is personal:it seems that Dracula was responsible for the death of Mary's mother, Amanda (Louise Sorel). However, Mary soon falls under his spell when Dracula falls for her and gives her one of his special hickeys. This doesn't sit well with Antoinette (Antoinette Stella), a wannabe vampire who is obsessed with becoming Dracula's main squeeze. With the reappearance of Amanda (Who has become a vampire), Mary has to fight her feelings for Dracula and stop him once and for all.
Although a tad dated, The Curse of Dracula was an interesting piece of television. You can understand Dracula's point: who hasn't had the desire to live forever, but knowing that eternity would be incredibly lonely? Dracula's feelings for Mary are genuine (Although you can't help but wonder how many times he's used this line in the 500 plus years of his existence) and you can't blame Mary for wanting to be with him (Kurt was a dull as a plastic knife). In the end, we know that good triumphs over evil and that Dracula will have to go (Although we know that he ALWAYS comes back).
Nouri's interpretation of Dracula is interesting. In the scene when he and Mary are stargazing and he expresses his love for her, you can't help but feel his loneliness. No wonder, when offered the choice to join him, that Mary took his hand and threw caution to the (literal)wind.
If you can get a copy of it (And there's some floating out there), it's worth a look.
I saw this show when I was a teen in 1979 and fell in love. I have been into vampires ever since then (going on nearly 25 years). I highly recommend it as a first taste (no pun intended) for someone who doesn't want a gory vamp flick. It has led me into other great vampire flicks as Interview with a Vampire, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Blade and such shows as Forever Knight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If anyone knows about this show on DVD, PLEASE!!! Let me know. I would love to add it to my collection. Michael Nouri is a very good actor and played the part of Dracula very seductively. It was a powerful show for a fourteen year old girl and now that I'm forty... it still holds fond memories for me
Ironic that when Michael Nouri left daytime's Search for Tomorrow to play the title role in The Curse of Dracula, his soap character, Steve Kaslo, died of a blood disorder....The Curse of Dracula started out as one of the three segments that made up the hour-long t.v. series "Cliffhangers," an homage to the serials of the 50's that ended with, you guessed it, a cliffhanger. In this "What if Dracula were still around in the late 20th century?" premise, he is a college professor - easy access to young students/fresh blood. That is until he meets and falls for a woman out for revenge. She teams up with the also vengeful grandson of the famous vampire hunter Van Helsing. Eventually in the 80's they packaged the popular Curse of Dracula episodes into a television movie - sometimes called Dracula '79. It's a great way to spend a few hours if you can catch it somewhere on cable or on the Late Late Late Show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this years ago on a rainy Saturday afternoon on the Scifi channel.
the best 70s vampire film (that goes in my book to either the first Count
Yorga film or the '79 Dracula with Frank Langella) but this one is fun
enough (perfect for a free viewing i don't know if i'd rent it or not).
let's face it, some things aren't even worth watching for free. i'm not
familiar with the guy who played Dracula in this but from my vague memory
it he did a pretty decent job. SPOILER MAYBE....the battle scene in the
with the fire did stick in my memory so it must have been pretty
This was originally one segment of a short-lived American TV series called "Cliffhanger." It was an attempt to bring the old cliffhanger style to television, but didn't work very well. One segment was about a cowboy that fell into a mine shaft or something and ended up in a strange underworld city. Can't remember what the other segment was about.
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