Three middle-aged distinguished gentlemen are searching for some excitement in their boring bourgeois lives and get in contact with one of Count Dracula's servants, Lord Courtley. In a ... See full summary »
When a ship is wrecked off Whitby, the only survivor, Count Dracula, is discovered lying on the beach by the sickly young Mina Van Helsing, who is visiting her dear friend Lucy Seward. Lucy, her fiancé Jonathan Harker (a solicitor), and her father Dr. Jack Seward (who runs the local asylum) try to make the Count feel welcome to England. The Count quickly takes the life of Mina, and proceeds to romance Lucy, with the intention of making her his greatest bride. Soon after the death of Mina, the Sewards call her father Dr. Abraham Van Helsing to come to their home. As Lucy falls deeper under the spell of the Count, Dr. Van Helsing almost immediately comes to understand that his daughter fell prey to a vampire and discovers the culprit to be none other than the Count himself. Dr. Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, and Harker work together to foil the Count's plans to take Lucy away to his native Transylvania. Written by
Hillary Glendinning (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It is surprising to me that, given the popular and critical praise so many mediocre vampire movies have received( this includes the badly dated Hammer flicks), this movie is often dismissed as minor and forgettable. While it is true that the definitive version is still Coppola's 1992 film, this overlooked gem deserves much more attention and praise than it currently gets.
It was possibly the first vampire movie to play up the romantic and sexual implications of the vampire legend, while at the same time remaining faithful to the underlying idea of Stoker's novel( that is, a fight between good and evil). It is worth pointing out that the film depicts count Dracula as a good looking, seductive and charming aristocrat, rather than an impulsive blood-thirsty creature. He is a broody, lonely character, seeking for a female partner with whom share his everlasting loneliness, something he seems to find in the form of Lucy Seward, an independent and strong-willed Victorian lady.
But the fact that this Dracula has a romantic strain to him does not conceal his ultimately evil nature. He consciously seduces and attacks ill, defenseless Mina just for the excitement of it. When Dr Van Helsing meets her at the graveyard galleries, she is no longer that frail but charming girl, but a deathly-pale,putrid, disgusting figure. That is what Dracula's hobby implies.
Badham does an excellent job. He effectively uses Gothic imagery and low key lightning to create an eerie and slightly surreal atmosphere.But what really stands out in this version is the cast. Everyone fits their role perfectly.Langella plays a seductive count. Olivier,inspired by Cushing's performance in 1958 Dracula, puts in a riveting performance as a frail, tortured Van Helsing, with an emotional stake in the story (pun intended). Kate Nelligan( a fine Canadian supporting actress,also starring in Eye of the Needle) delivers a fresh performance. Even Harker's character , which is usually the main casting weakness when it comes to Dracula movies, is quite well handled here, played by an actor with the right appearance.
There are minor flaws, the most important of them being a lack of screen time devoted to the romance and a muddled color scheme, but this film is nevertheless worth a look, an engaging retelling of the classic horror tale with a poetic, broody edge to it.
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