Count Dracula (1970)
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Herbert Lom makes Dr. Van-Helsing so interesting, you can't stop watching. Another great thing about the film was the dark and gloomy sets such as the Borgo Pass and Castle Dracula.
The score for the film was superb, and it goes right together with the fantastic film.
I hope the people who read this take my word and just watch, "Count Dracula", for what it is. It's a film that shouldn't be forgotton.
It's certainly a Dracula movie worth seeing for fans of the genre, but it is hypnotically draggy at times (then again, so was the book!). It should be mentioned that the print used for the newly released Dark Sky DVD is missing a really effective sequence where a crying woman outside Dracula's castle pleads desperately for the Count to return her little baby to her. **1/2 out of ****
Unfortunately, what I've heard about the production is that they changed producers in mid-shooting and he cut the budget back, so what could've been a fairly faithful rendition of the book now looks cheap and like the low-budget film it eventually became. This is no reflection of Jess Franco.
All in all, the count bids you welcome...
Christopher Lee is astonishing as Dracula (as usual), while Herbert Lom excels as Van Helsing. The rest of the cast, including Maria Rohm as Mina, Soledad Miranda as Lucy and Klaus Kinski as Renfield, are superb.
The film works well because it relies on atmosphere and mood, rather than resorting to gore every few minutes. That's what you rarely see in a horror film these days, which is a shame, as films that use these techniques frighten more.
Christopher Lee is the greatest Count Dracula of all time, probably more famous than Bela Lugosi or Max Schreck, the bald-headed creature of the night in the silent movie Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens, also known as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.
A marvellous vampire film!
Its overall effect is worlds removed from the Hammer outings which starred Lee: these were actually still going on when COUNT Dracula was made, but he had become increasingly disenchanted with their approach. Low-key, deliberately-paced and hampered by severe budgetary constraints (resulting in shoddy effects and a distinct lack of props), the film nevertheless makes the most of its Spanish locations even if Manuel Merino's shaky camera-work displays an unwarranted propensity for zoom shots (while an attack, ostensibly taking the vampire's POV, then bafflingly reveals Dracula to be coming from a totally different direction!). The soundtrack highlights Bruno Nicolai's typically reliable score (at once evocative and moody), but it's punctuated by weird and amusing slurping sounds during the vampire attacks! The Spanish DVD presents the film in its correct full-frame aspect ratio, though the transfer itself lends the whole an unrealistic orange hue (as opposed to the bluish tones, for night-time sequences, which have been mentioned online with respect to the Dark Sky edition).
It has been said that Lee's performance in COUNT Dracula is superior to his various interpretations in the Hammer films: while I certainly appreciated his different approach to the role, he is still given relatively little time in which to work his magic (no pun intended); interestingly, the vampire starts off as an old man here but is gradually rejuvenated through his bloodsucking habits (a concept originating in Stoker and picked up again by Francis Ford Coppola for his BRAM STOKER'S Dracula , another would-be rigorous adaptation). The rest of the main cast is virtually a "Who's Who" of Franco's filmography during this time: Herbert Lom makes for an imposing Van Helsing (due to the language barrier, I didn't understand why he was suddenly wheelchair-bound but, from the "Eccentric Cinema" review, I gathered that the character had suffered a stroke); Klaus Kinski is a creepy Renfield (able to create a character by saying almost nothing at all he had already done similar duties for Franco as the Marquis De Sade in the 1968 version of "Justine" and, by the way, it's interesting that the actor would himself eventually play Dracula twice, in NOSFERATU, THE VAMPYRE  and the Italian-made NOSFERATU A VENEZIA ); Maria Rohm as Mina (looking ravishing but who's rather underused throughout); Soledad Miranda as Lucy (she only really comes into her own when turned into a vampire, which actually precedes her iconic turn in Franco's VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970) itself a very loose adaptation of "Dracula"!); Fred Williams as Harker; Jack Taylor as Quincey; Paul Muller as Dr. Seward; and even Franco himself as Van Helsing's dopey-looking yet vaguely sinister manservant.
For all its shortcomings (it wouldn't be a Franco film if it weren't flawed), COUNT Dracula still provides a fair quota of memorable moments: Dracula silencing the wolves outside his castle; Dracula feeding a baby to his 'brides'; Dracula's attacks on Miranda, twice interrupted by Rohm (whom he eventually gets to, of all places, at an opera house!); Miranda's bloody demise in her coffin; the stuffed animals in Dracula's London home coming to life to scare the vampire hunters; Lom burning a cross-shape on the floor in his clinic to ward off the approaching vampire; blood spurting in Taylor's face from his staking of a vampire woman in Dracula's castle; Dracula's fiery come-uppance (actually similar to Miranda's not to mention Bela Lugosi in the 1931 Universal classic in that he's dispatched while at his most vulnerable, i.e. asleep in his coffin).
It's unfortunate that none of the companies who released or are set to release the film on DVD seem to hold the rights to CUADECUC, VAMPIR (1970), a documentary shot at the time of COUNT Dracula's production. By the way, I should eventually be following this viewing of the film with several more Francos, including alternate versions of two monster mashes on similar lines (but even more idiosyncratic), namely Dracula PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN (1971) and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN aka THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN (1972/3).
European co-production between various countries as Spain | West Germany | Italy | Liechtenstein . This thrilling as well as terrifying film contains horrifying scenes , chills , lots of gore and red tomato was used for the blood . This version of Dracula is closely based on Bram Stoker's 1897 classic novel of the same title . Adequate version about the famous personage with an European all-star cast , poor cinematography by Manuel Merino though would have been necessary a photography similarly to Hammer Films , glamorous gowns and regular production design , including evocative sights on Victorian London , actually shot in Alicante, Barcelona, Cataluña , Estudios Cinematográficos Balcázar, Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona, Cataluña, Spain and Munich, Bavaria, Germany . Christopher Lee, who plays a splendid Dracula, and Herbert Lom, who plays stunningly Dr. Van Helsing , never saw each other during the filming. They shot all their joint scenes separately . Christopher Lee was reportedly tired of playing Dracula and was convinced to join the cast only after being promised that the film would be a faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula novel , the film, however, ultimately made numerous significant changes to the story . Filmmaker Jesús Franco's first choice for the role of Van Helsing was Vincent Price. He was not able to obtain Price due to his exclusive contract with American International Pictures and second choice Dennis Price was forced to withdraw through illness , Franco was able to get his third choice, Herbert Lom, for the role. Although the producer claims that Klaus Kinski was hoodwinked into playing Renfield when producers gave him a script with a fake title, director Jesús Franco says this was not true and he claims that Klaus Kinski ate real flies as Renfield instead of fake ones. Special mention to rousing and powerful musical score composed and conducted by Bruno Nicolai . Interesting script by writers Jesús Franco Erich Kröhnke , Harry Alan Towers as Peter Welbeck, also film producer .
Other films retelling the known legend based as originally conceived on this novel are the following : ¨ Dracula¨ (1974) by Dan Curtis with Jack Palance , Simon Ward ,Nigel Davenport , ¨Bram's Stoker Dracula'with David Suchet as Abraham Van Helsing , Marc Warren as Count Dracula and Sophia Myles as Lucy ; the best results to be Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula with Gary Oldman , Winona Ryder , Gary Elwes , Keanu Reeves and Anthony Hopkins and last version ¨Dracula¨2012 by Dario Argento with Rutger Hauer as Abraham Van Helsing , Asia Argento as Lucy , Unax Ugalde as Johnathan Harker and Thomas Kretschmann as Dracula .
The story takes place in 1897. Wannabe attorney Jonathan Harker (Frederick Williams of "A Bridge Too Far") travels from England to Transylvania where he confers with Count Dracula (Christopher Lee of "Horror of Dracula") about a real estate property that the nobleman wants to purchase outside of London. The early scenes show Harker traveling by train to see the Count. He doesn't understand why some of the people that he meets want to keep their distance from him. At his hotel, the innkeeper's wife warns him of his impending danger. Harker takes a stagecoach to Count Dracula's castle. The first coach deposits him in the middle of the wilderness. After a short wait, another arrives with a coachman, suspiciously resembling the Count, who offers Harker a flash of whiskey with which he may fortify himself. Harker refuses the coachman's offer and climbs aboard the vehicle.
Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) meets Harker at his castle. "Enter freely and of your own will," the Count bids him without explanation. No sooner has Dracula shown Harker to his room than the Englishmen is puzzled by an unusual sight. The mirror in his room casts a reflection of himself but shows nothing of the Count standing alongside him. Later, Harker asks the white-haired, heavily mustached Dracula why he has chosen to leave his castle in the Carpathian wilds, he replied, "I am not young, but I am restless." Harker's comments prompt Dracula to relive the exploits of his bloody past when he helped to repulse the invading Turks. Finally, Dracula concludes his monologue, "The wind blows coldly through these broken battlements. Although this is my home, I must move on." Harker observes that he could have sent the Count the real estate papers through the mail. Disagreeing with Harker, Dracula explains that he wanted to learn something about the people and customs of his new home and so he invited Harker as his guest. At this point, Harker's hackles rise at the howls of wildlife around the castle. Dracula utters his immortal line. "Listen to them, the children of the night, what music they do make." Later, Dracula intervenes when three of his women are poised to suck every last drop of blood from a supine Harker's throat. As it turns out, Harker has been dreaming. He decides to escape from Dracula's castle and does a header out of a window. The next time that we see him, he is a patient in Dr. Seward's sanitarium. Dr. John Seward (Paul Muller of "Lady Frankenstein") operates an asylum for the mentally ill and one of his consulting colleagues is Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Herbert Lom of "Mysterious Island") who has been studying the 'black arts.' Seward explains to Harker's fiancée Mina Murray(Maria Rohm of "Twenty Four Hours to Kill") that her future husband was brought to his sanitarium because of the outrageous stories that he told about Count Dracula and an army of bats. Mina has been accompanied by her friend, Lucy (Soledad Miranda of "She Killed in Ecstasy"), and she faints when she hears one of the patients screaming. Later, we learn that R.M. Renfield (Klaus Kinski of "Nosferatu") is kept there because he told a trip to Transylvania. Renfield's daughter died from loss of blood and has been insane and eating insect since her demise. Meantime, Dracula has moved into the house across the road from Seward's clinic, unbeknownst to any of the occupants until Harker realizes later that the count is residing there. Mina walks in on Dracula sucking the blood out of Mina and we get the scariest shot in "Count Dracula." Eventually, Harker and Lucy's fiancée, Quincy (Jack Taylor) pursue Dracula and burn him in his coffin.
Believe it or not, "Count Dracula" surpasses the typical Franco fiasco. Lee delivers a terrific soliloquy in his castle about his valorous combat against the invading Turkish horde, but he doesn't have half as many lines after he forsakes his castle. Lee appears appropriately sinister, but he is rarely frightening. As perfectly cast as he is as Renfield, Kinski seems wasted in a peripheral role, while Herbert Lom fares best with more substantial role as Van Helsing. "Count Dracula" is clearly an example of 1970's film-making. Franco's long-time collaborator, lenser Manuel Merino relies heavily on zooms to indicate surprise and tension. Meanwhile, Franco directs with his customary lack of fanfare and rarely covers a scene with additional shots. The Spanish production values are good, but there aren't any scenes set in London. Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is a far better retelling than Franco's "Count Dracula."
As mentioned above, this movie is probably the most loyal adaption of Bram Stoker's novel, so I don't suppose a further plot description is necessary. I am a huge fan of the Hammer Dracula flicks and the 1958 Dracula is one of my all-time favorite movies. Although this Jess Franco version of the story differs entirely from these great classics of British Horror, this is a highly atmospheric, creepy and original flick that must not be missed by a Horror fan.
Christopher Lee is, as always, brilliant in the role of Dracula. The prince of darkness is wearing a mustache this time, one more aspect in which this movie is loyal to the novel. Herbert Lom is a great actor and fits very well in the role of an elderly Van Helsing, although my personal opinion is that he can't compete with Peter Cushing, who will always be unmatched in the role of Van Helsing he played in the Hammer films. Last but not least, Klaus Kinski delivers a brilliant performance as Renfield. Kinski was predestined to play madmen, and the particular role of Renfield fits this great actor perfectly. The cast furthermore includes Paul Muller (Nightmare Castle), and beautiful Maria Rohm and Soledad Miranda, and the gloominess of the atmosphere is even increased by the great, eerie score composed by Bruno Nicolai. "Count Dracula" has a few cheesy moments too, but all things considered this is another great Dracula flick starring Lee, and definitely one of the best films directed by Jess Franco. Highly recommended!
Unfortunately, this director considers himself to be an "arthouse" worthy stylist, when in actuality, he ends up wasting at least 15 minutes of every film with his "arthouse" shots, which are usually superfluous and lend nothing whatsoever to the plot he is supposed to be shooting.
Fortunately, this time, he didn't bother with that mindless activity, and delivers an awesome bit of horror. Is this the best Dracula MOVIE? Well, not in my opinion. I'm one of those "story+great effects over atmosphere" horror fans, so in my book the best Dracula movie so far has been John Carpenter's Vampires because the effects were mind blowing and the story was just plain GOOD.
So why am I reviewing THIS movie? Simply because Lee's performance more than rates your time. If you are a Lee fan, or if you're a Dracula fan, or if you're a horror fan in general, this movie is worth the 2 hours' viewing time just to take in Lee's brilliance. As I've said, in my opinion, this is by far his best performance. (Loved him as Sauron, but this is still his best.) Check it out, if only for Lee's Performance. You won't be disappointed.
It rates an 8.8/10 from...
the Fiend :.
Opening train ride is well done, quite similar to sequence in original novel, as are several other sequences, primarily in film's first half. The screenplay eventually deviates a bit from the source material, but it is still a closer adaptation of it than others.
6'4" Lee looks quite convincing as Dracula, in white hair and Fu Manchu moustache, similar to novel's early description of a frail Dracula - until he begins drinking other's blood, which causes him to become younger and healthier.
Three-foot long candles covered in cobwebs seems a bit forced and clichéd, when everything else is clean. This effect looks a bit like a childish gimmick. The floors also looked out of place, like filmmakers had splurged on walls and furniture but then put them in empty warehouse.
Lighting and colour composition are assets, but it looks a bit too much like a photographed stage-play or a TV-movie, bound to its impressive sets.
But the good outweighs the bad here, and the movie is good fun to watch.
The film starts out very similar to the novel, picking up about where the novel's account begins. Of note is Christopher Lee's Dracula: costumed and made up almost directly in line with the book. His portrayal is equally good, if a bit flat at times.
At a certain point, though, the narrative deviates. Several characters are omitted from this adaptation, and parts of the plot change significantly from the novel. However, much of the sexual undertones of the original novel seep through regardless, which is almost expected given director Jess Franco's experience with "adult-oriented" films. Some parts of the new narrative also fall flat (resulting in at least two notable wall-banger moments), but overall it makes sense and is still somewhat similar to the novel.
Also of note is Klaus Kinski's portrayal of Renfield: not the best (that honor goes to Dwight Frye in the 1931 adaptation), but mysterious and well-done nonetheless. In addition, Herbert Lom does well as Dracula's foe Van Helsing, especially given later events in the narrative, and Lee's statement that they were never actually filmed together, on the same set.
Some other bad parts of the film include the aforementioned "wall-banger" scenes, Franco's obsession with shaky camera zooming, and some cheaply done special effects and sets.
These don't necessarily detract from the film, however, and it remains an enjoyable, if definitely flawed, film. Definitely rent it at least.
Franco's film "El Conde Dracula" (a.k.a. "Count Dracula", "Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht", "Verenhimoinen Dracula" etc.) has a very promising beginning. Although film is shot in Spain, Franco has found very Gothic looking places where to shot the film and on the background we hear Bruno Nicolai's powerful organ music. Jonathan Harker's (Fred Williams) journey to Dracula's castle follows Stoker's pages faithfully and Lee looks stunning with the white hair and mustache (Dracula appears as an old man for the first time in cinema history). When he starts speaking Stoker's lines, about Dracula's past and passionately tell how "Dracula's ancestors" defeated Turks, you can see Lee is having a time of his life, finally playing Dracula as he wanted.
Sadly, the first 20 minutes are also mainly the only good ones in this film. Apparently the producers backed out suddenly and Franco lost most of his budget. He has tried to keep most of his film faithful to Stoker, but the lack of money has forced them to make changes. After Harker escapes from Dracula's castle, he wakes up weeks later in a hospital ran by Prof. Abraham Van Helsing (Herbert Lom) and Dr. John Seward (Paul Muller). Soon Harker's fiancée Mina (Maria Rohm) arrives with her friend Lucy (beautiful Soledad Miranda) and her fiancé Quincey Morris (Jack Taylor). Count Dracula has moved to an old abbey very close to a hospital and his presence has an odd effect on Van Helsing's patient Renfield (Klaus Kinski, who actually played Dracula later in 1979).
As said, Franco tries to keep the film as faithful to Stoker as he can. However dreams of making a completely authentic adaptation were gone. Also the film is far from being even a good film. Poor supporting performances, Franco's annoying habit of taking many close-up shots and the general lack of money are too visible effects to ignore. Also after the castle sequence, Lee doesn't have much to do anymore. He does get younger which is interesting to see but he mainly just gives threatening glares. Herbert Lom, who has played different roles from Captain Nemo to Phantom of the Opera, is the saving grace here. His Van Helsing becomes the only interesting character here and Lom does put his best to the role, stealing the rest of the film from others. Klaus Kinski sadly just wastes his talents here, for he has no lines at all. Story tells that producer Harry Allan Towers would have tricked Kinski in the film by not telling him it's a Dracula film. Franco has denied this though.
Jesus Franco's "El Conde Dracula" is the first movie really trying to be faithful to Stoker's book. Unfortunately it doesn't reach it goals and is not even that great movie in the first place. God only knows that they might have done a lot better with more money. Now the only things memorable are performances by Lee and Lom, as well as the organ music.
For a long period of time in my youth, I only knew Lom primarily as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus, the constant recipient of aggravation from Peter Seller's bumbling Inspector Clouseau. Since watching more 60's & early 70's horror, I've come to find Lom an icon of the genre. He can hold you captive with his mere presence, just as Lee. He's not as much a theatrical actor as this authoritative, commanding figure who draws you to him like a moth to the flame. I didn't mind Franco's constant zooming towards Lom's face because he has always delivers something interesting with his Van Helsing character. Lom is formidable and this really bodes well because there is a good portion of the film where Lee's Count is away from the screen. I think, in order to hold the viewer's interest(..or those who want to see Lee all the time), it's important to cast other interesting actors. This leads me to Klaus Kinski. I have to admit that I wasn't expecting this type of interpretation from Kinski as the often dementedly performed character of Renfield. Klaus, I don't think, ever finishes a complete sentence, preferring to show the terror on Renfield's face as he slowly awaits the arrival of Dracula. Even within a padded cell, you can see, through the facial mannerisms and hypnotic blue eyes of Kinski, Renfield's plight. Unlike past interpretations of Renfield, Kinski doesn't deliver deranged monologues about the Count, but channels the horrors of what he knows through silence(..often seen staring, almost mime-like in how he makes for the window of his cell as it faces the mansion with which his enemy resides)and gesture. Soledad Miranda's exotic beauty is definitely put to good use as Lucy, Dracula's chosen source of blood. Fred Williams, as Lucy's fiancé Jonathan Harker, and Jack Taylor as Mina's fiancé Quincy Morris, are more or less secondary characters. They're important as vampire hunters, urged by Van Helsing to stop Dracula before he can harm other innocents. The lovely Maria Rohm(Venus in Furs)has the role of Mina, but she is used mainly on screen to scream when she sees Dracula.
The movie sees Count Dracula (played by the legend that is Christopher Lee) flee his Carpathian Castle in Transylvania, for the shores of England, where he is desperate to feed on the blood of English women Lucy and Mina in order to grow youthful and remain alive. Unfortunately for Dracula however, having everything go his way is not as easy as he had hoped as good guys Professor Abraham Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker, Quincey Morris and Dr John Seward soon learn of what Dracula is up to and set out to stop him.
As well as being quite possibly the best and most faithful movie adaptation of Bram Stokers novel, this movie is also the most serious available, this in terms of story, script, directing and acting. There thankfully isn't any over the top performances here.
Jess Franco recruited an all star cast for this movie, in which anybody who is a fan of European Cinema will know and be pleased with this cast. Christopher Lee (the Hammer Horror Dracula series, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars Episodes 2 and 3), Herbert Lom (The Ladykillers, The Pink Panther movie series), Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu the Vampyr, Jack the Ripper), Soledad Miranda (Vampyros Lesbos, Eugenie), Maria Rohm (99 Women, Marquis De Sade: Justine), Fred Williams (The Devil came from Alaska, She killed in Ecstasy), Paul Muller (Night of the Doomed, Eugenie), and Jack Taylor (Dr Jekyll and the Wolfman, Eugenie) are that all star European cast I speak of.
All of the all star cast pull off fantastic acting performances, in particular Christopher Lee and Herbert Lom. Christopher Lee also provides his best performance as Dracula in this movie (better than the more over the top Hammer Dracula performances) and many will find it a treat to see Christopher Lee delivering Bram Stoker's dialogue word for word, in particular the 'children of the night' speech.
The atmosphere throughout this movie is incredible, as are the sets and music which is performed by the brilliant Bruno Nicolai. The only downfall concerning this movie, in my opinion is the budget, which was obviously low and this shows when it comes to the rather embarrassing scene when the stuffed animals come to life and are supposedly attempting to attack Harker, Morris, and Seward.
Overall Jess Franco's version of Count Dracula is a very good movie and if you are a fan of Dracula movies then this is one movie that your collection should not be without.