Three distinguished English gentlemen accidentally resurrect Count Dracula, killing a disciple of his in process. The Count seeks to avenge his dead servant, by making the trio die in the hands of their own children.
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 (email@example.com)
The names of Mina and Lucy are inverted in this version of Dracula. In Bram Stoker's book and other movies, Mina was Jonathan Harker's fiancé and Lucy was her friend who becomes a vampire. Here, Lucy is the fiancé and Mina becomes the vampire lady. See more »
When Harker is driving away from Dracula's castle after having Dracula sign the deed papers, Renfield jumps him from the back of his car. During the scenes of struggle, there's a from-the-front shot that clearly shows another car loaded with people (crew?) about a hundred feet or so behind the Harker car. See more »
The vampire Count Dracula (Frank Langella) arrives in England from Transylvania and targets a wealthy middle-class family, including the daughter of arch-enemy Abraham Van Helsing (Laurence Olivier)...
John Badham's underrated adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel takes most of its cues from the stage play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston (which had launched Bela Lugosi to stardom in 1927), and while it may not be entirely faithful to the book - events are compressed for reasons of timing - it adheres faithfully to the spirit of the thing. It's also an immensely CINEMATIC work which uses the wide Panavision frame in painterly fashion, creating a landscape of Gothic architecture and Victorian excess (note the breathtaking shot looking down from the ceiling inside Dracula's castle, where an ornate spider's web fills the entire screen). Badham and screenwriter W.D. Richter emphasize the film's Romantic elements - helped immeasurably by Langella's complex performance - though the corruption underlying Dracula's handsome exterior is often betrayed by certain details (the Count clawing at a windowpane, seeking entrance to his latest victim; the ghoulish vampiress who continues to rot even as she pursues her lust for human blood, etc.).
Olivier has been criticized in some quarters for his 'silly' European accent, and it's true that his performance lacks some of the dynamism Peter Cushing once brought to the role of Van Helsing, but Olivier comes into his own when confronting Dracula with evidence of his vampirism, and in the deeply moving moment when he drives a stake through his daughter's heart and cradles her corpse in his arms whilst sobbing uncontrollably. The fine supporting cast includes Trevor Eve, Donald Pleasence and a wealth of familiar British character actors (Tony Haygarth, Teddy Turner, Sylvester McCoy, etc.), alongside Canadian actress Kate Nelligan, giving a finely-tuned performance as a potential bride of Dracula. A beautiful film - romantic, tragic, Gothic and sinister, it satisfies in almost every respect, and is ripe for rediscovery. John Williams' glorious music score is the icing on the cake.
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