It is the year 1462. Constantinople has fallen to invading Turks. Prince Dracula [Gary Oldman] must leave his bride Elizabeta [Winona Ryder] to do battle against the Turks. A ferocious and pitched battle occurs and Dracula's counteroffensive is a success and he leaves many in the Turk army alive and impaled on long spears on the battlefield. The Turks, seeking vengeance, send a message to Dracula's castle falsely announcing that the warlord has been killed in battle. Elizabeta flings herself into the river below. Because she committed suicide, the Bishop [Anthony Hopkins] proclaims her soul damned. Furious that God let his wife die while Dracula was defending His church, Dracula renounces God and the Church. He draws his sword and stabs the large cross on the dais of his chapel and it begins to bleed. Dracula drinks the blood flowing from the cross, proclaiming he will be reborn after his death with all the powers of darkness at his command.
March 1897, England. Law clerk Jonathan Harker [Keanu Reeves] must travel to Transylvania to close the sale of 10 London properties being purchased by Count Dracula. Upon his return, Jonathan and fiancee Mina Murray [Winona Ryder] intend to be married. In Jonathan's absence, Mina goes to stay with her rich friend Lucy Westenra [Sadie Frost], who has just recently received three marriage proposals -- from Texan Quincey Morris [Bill Campbell], Dr Jack Seward [Richard E Grant], and Lord Arthur Holmwood [Cary Elwes] -- and she has decided to marry Arthur.
Meanwhile, Jonathan has arrived at Castle Dracula following a strange carriage ride past blue flames and wolves. Even stranger is the Count himself. He never eats, sleeps all day, lives alone in a large castle in which most of the doors are locked, and crawls down the castle walls like a reptile. Jonathan has begun to have strange dreams about three women who try to seduce him. To Jonathan's further unease, the Count seems to be fascinated with a picture of Mina, who upon seeing her picture believes she is a reincarnation of Elizabeta, has forced Jonathan to write letters saying that he will be staying with the Count for another month. Meanwhile, the Count is preparing for his trip to England by having his mindless servants fill large crates with dirt from the grounds around the castle.
July, 1897. Jonathan has been missing for over three months, and Mina is sick with worry, while Lucy is involved with planning for her wedding. But Lucy is not without worries either. A particularly violent summer storm has recently washed a ship of dead sailors upon the beach, and shortly thereafter Lucy has begun her old habit of sleepwalking. Each time she sleepwalks, she returns bewildered and pale. Dr Seward, who has his hands full treating the fly-eating lunatic R M Renfield [Tom Waits] , has taken on Lucy as his patient. She shows all the signs of anemia, but Dr Seward can find no cause for it. Consequently, he has decided to send for a metaphysician, philosopher, and specialist in rare blood disorders, his old mentor Professor Abraham Van Helsing [Anthony Hopkins]. Upon his arrival, Van Helsing immediately begins a blood transfusion on Lucy and places garlic near her bed. When Lucy's suitors ask what could possibly have caused such extreme anemia, Van Helsing suggests that a supernatural force may have been stalking her. The others find it too fantastical to believe.
Meanwhile, Mina has begun occupying herself with a dashingly dressed but mysterious man she met near the cinematograph. He introduced himself as Prince Vlad of Szekely, and Mina is strangely drawn to him, as though she knows him. He is easily able to seduce her in the theatre but she is snapped out of her hypnosis when a large wolf appears and terrorizes the theatre-goers. Mina is surprised moments later when she sees that Vlad is suddenly friendly with the wolf.
Mina later receives news that Jonathan has been found and has suffered a violent brain fever and is being cared for by the sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who bid her to come to Romania and be married to Jonathan. She realizes that she can no longer see her prince again. Mina says goodbye to Lucy, writes a note to Dracula, and sets sail for Romania. Dracula, heartbroken at losing Mina to Jonathan, takes Lucy as his bride instead, attacking her in her bed as the wolf and causing a violent explosion of blood that kills her.
Lucy is dead, although Van Helsing knows that the correct term is 'undead,' for he can see the fangs in her mouth and knows that she is 'nosferatu.' He explains to Arthur, Jack, and Quincey that, to give Lucy's soul peace, they must cut off her head and take out her heart. They are horrified and think that Van Helsing is just a sick old coot, until they
spend a night in Lucy's tomb and find her returning with a child in her arms. Van Helsing is able to force Lucy to release the child and forces her back into her coffin with a crucifix. Due to his engagement to and love of Lucy, Holmwood is selected to drive a large stake through Lucy's heart while Van Helsing beheads her with a single blow. When the deed is done, they band together to seek out the Count and destroy him.
Mina and Jonathan have returned to London, only to hear that Lucy has died. One night, they have dinner with Van Helsing, and Jonathan realizes that he knows Count Dracula and that he sleeps in Carfax Abbey. After securing Mina at Dr Seward's sanitarium, the five of them -- Van Helsing, Jonathan, Quincey, Jack, and Arthur -- pay a visit to the abbey in order to sterilize Dracula's earth-filled crates. Meanwhile Dracula is paying a visit to Mina. When she learns that her prince is actually the vampyre who killed Lucy, she becomes extremely upset, but not enough to resist wanting to be with him, to live how he lives. Dracula drinks from Mina, then opens a vein in his chest and bids her drink. However, he stops short after she has taken but a bit. 'I love you too much to condemn you,' he explains. Suddenly, Van Helsing et al burst in the room. They attempt to destroy Dracula, but he changes into hundreds of rats and scurries away.
Dracula knows that he cannot stay in England any longer and books passage back to Transylvania via Varna. Mina and the men follow close behind. As Dracula is in mind contact with Mina, Van Helsing knows Dracula's plans but Dracula also seems to know theirs. Instead of sailing into Varna, Dracula diverts the ship 200 miles north and lands at Galatz, causing a change in plans such that Van Helsing and Mina take a carriage directly from Varna to the Borgo Pass while Jonathan, Quincey, Arthur, and Jack continue by train to Galatz where they secure horses and ride for the Borgo Pass, hoping to intercept the Count. They are unsuccessful. Dracula's gypsies picked up his box at Galatz and are now speeding down the Borgo Pass road, making the race closer than ever.
Mina and Van Helsing are almost to the castle but decide to stop for the night. Hearing spirits from the surrounding area, Van Helsing casts a circle around Mina and protects her by burning her forehead with a blessed communion wafer. They stay inside the circle through the night while Dracula's three brides tempt Mina to join them, killing the horses from their carriage. The next morning, as Mina sleeps in the circle, Van Helsing visits the castle and beheads the vampiresses, throwing their severed heads into the gorge.
Near sundown, the gypsy wagon bearing Dracula in his crate approaches the castle. Jonathan, Arthur, Quincey, and Jack are riding hard to catch up. Mina and Van Helsing wait inside the castle courtyard. Mina calls up a blue flame to protect Dracula. As the gypsy wagon enters the courtyard, a gypsy stabs Quincey in the back. Jonathan attempts to open Dracula's box, but the sun has set and Dracula bursts forth, his strength revived. At that very moment, however, Jonathan slits Dracula's neck and Quincey stabs Dracula through the heart with a sword. Mina screams. As Arthur races forward to finish Dracula, Harker stops him. 'Let them go,' he says. 'Our work is finished here; hers has just begun.'
As Quincey dies, Mina sits with Dracula on the chapel floor inside the castle. She kisses him, and he begs her to give him peace. Out of love, she pushes the sword the rest of the way through Dracula's heart. The burn on her forehead disappears, the wound in the altar cross repairs itself and Dracula dies, his face becoming youthful again. Mina gives him his final release by cutting off his head. [Original Synopsis by bj_kuehl]