Dracula (TV Movie 1974) Poster

(1974 TV Movie)

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Scary when I was 10; scary now!
mlevans29 September 2002
Few people remember that Jack Palance--better known as a rough Western character and elderly machismo cologne huckster--played Dracula. For any 10-11-year-olds in 1973, who saw this TV movie, however, his performance will never be forgotten!

I got a chance to see this version of the classic tale as adult a few years ago and found that it is still a fine film. Palance brings something unique to the vampire role. Somewhere between Max Schreck's hideous rat-like Count Orlok and the debonair Lugosi/Lee/Langela Dracula, Palance may well exude some sort of animal magnetism to women, but is still a hideous fanged beast on the prowl. The scene of him trying to get into the locked hotel room of the two women still gives me shivers. Few Draculas ever barred their fangs and hissed as Palance did--although this has seemed to be a popular move for female vampires.

Jack Palance will never be the first or second (or third) name associated with film vampires. For those who saw him in the role, though, it is hard to ever forget his Dracula. Watch it if you get the chance!
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Great Adaptation of Bram Stocker's Novel
claudio_carvalho28 July 2005
I am a great fan of vampire movies, and was really surprised how good this classic version of Bram Stocker's novel is. I am not fan of Jack Palance, but he is amazing in the role of Dracula, maybe better than Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi. He looks like a kind of "human animal", while Christopher Lee is a sort of gentleman vampire. Good direction, great performances of the cast, excellent locations and very few special effects make this film a worthwhile vampire movie. I noted a great flaw in the shooting, almost in the end of the story, when Jonathan Harker is thrown in a hole in the count's property in Transilvania: Arthur and Dr. Van Helsing are alone in the place and when they approach to see Jonathan's body, a third person can be seen in the back of Van Helsing. However, this mistake is irrelevant and does not decrease my rating of this movie. In the DVD released in Brazil, there are some problems with the colors along the first third of the film, with the black turning into green. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Drácula – O Demônio das Trevas" ("Dracula – The Demon of the Shadows")
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Jack Palance excels in a respectable made-for-TV version of Bram Stoker's classic novel
Woodyanders28 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Jack Palance brings a brooding intensity and snarling animal ferocity to the role of Dracula that totally works; Palance's fierce and intimidating vampire is both quite forceful and genuinely frightening (the scenes with Dracula using his superhuman strength against fragile mortals are especially potent and unsettling). Director Dan Curtis, working from an intelligent and absorbing script by Richard Matheson, relates the involving story at a steady pace, vividly evokes the flavorsome 19th century Victorian period setting, and stages the exciting climax with real flair. Moreover, the tip-top cast all contribute fine performances: Nigel Davenport makes for a restrained, believable, and authoritative Van Helsing, the ravishing Fiona Lewis impresses as the frail, doomed Lucy (in a surprisingly moving and inspired touch, she's the reincarnation of Dracula's past lover), plus there are sound turns by Simon Ward as the concerned Arthur, Penelope Horner as the sweet, vulnerable Mina, and Murray Brown as the likable, ill-fated Jonathan Harker. Virginia Wetherell, Barbara Lindley, and Sarah Douglas are pretty sexy and scary as Dracula's deadly, yet delectable vampire brides. Oswald Morris' lush cinematography boasts several graceful fades and a few nifty tilted camera angles. Bob Cobert's spirited shuddery score hits the spine-tingling spot. While not exactly a definitive adaptation of Stoker's book (the gloriously unhinged Renfield alas is nowhere to be seen), but still worth watching all the same.
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Venus-252 November 2001
Other fans of DARK SHADOWS will recognize the lost-love element as having come from Barnabas Collins' tragic situation in that series. It adds a magnificent new element to the Dracula story without diluting the original. Bob Cobert's music, also familiar to DARK SHADOWS fans, is the perfect accompaniment to the tale of the vampire count. I have watched this numerous times since it became available on tape.

The various film adaptations of DRACULA have covered probably most of the ways this can be interpreted, from implied sexual perversion (1931), raw sexuality (HORROR OF DRACULA), flagrant, swept-off-one's-feet romance (1979), to historical retrospective (1992), to modern revisionism (2000). This film takes elements of most of these in a neat TV package with an appropriately British supporting cast.

Watch every version anyway; Dracula is a unique addiction!
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The best Dracula
ghizzmoe9 May 2004
Jack Palance is arguably the best of the Draculas'. He is the only actor that ever gave me shivers when I watched, and to me that is one of my main criteria.....that I be scared! Yet I was also fascinated with the way he moved, sort of silent and deadly (as any vampire should). The very fact that his facial structure fit his character (as to his place of origin) was only a bonus. How could we not help but be witness to the dark and sinister side of Jack. His eyes were testament to something deep and mysterious hidden within. And yet are we not drawn to that which is dark and dreadful, that which makes us draw our hand to our mouth as if to stifle the sudden gasp of fear, as if it could protect us from that beautiful doom? Yes...Jack Palance as Dracula is all that and more to me.
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One of the best takes on Bram Stoker's Dracula Ever
mord3910 October 2000
MORD39 RATING: *** out of ****

At first glance, Jack Palance would seem to be the wrong type for the lead in this television version of DRACULA; but once the movie is well under way, he is purely magnificent in the role. He admittedly truly got "into" the character, so much so that he sometimes feared he might never be able to get out again!

In the disastrous 1990's we were fed Coppola's BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, which was a huge disappointment. It stole elements from this 1973 version, most notably the idea of Dracula as a more sympathetic character searching for the reincarnation of his old lover (here she's played by the stunning Fiona Lewis). But the 1992 version failed miserably because we grew to really like Dracula, and that should NEVER happen. But with this Dan Curtis production, we can feel sad for the Count's dilemma, yet still fear and despise him as the villain despite his tragedy. Palance's vampire comes off as a monster, but with just a hint of his past life of humanity which even he seems to miss.

The direction is sound, and the scenery is simple but atmospheric.

To this date, not one version of Stoker's novel has been adapted exactly as he intended it, including this one. There are liberties taken here, but it still remains a better choice than the Coppola film. This is a relatively unseen item that should be re-discovered.
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Scarecrow-8811 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A lot of folks I imagine will kind of giggle at the mere notion of Jack Palance in the role of Count Dracula, but I persist that he's one of the most fierce and menacing I've seen to date. Even as die hard a Palance fan as I am, he even surprised me because his Dracula is absolutely intense and quite passionate. One superb sequence has Dracula throwing men around like rag dolls while moving through a hotel looking for Mina, it completely works because Palance simply towers over his opposition. The final confrontation, as Van Helsing and Arthur intrude upon his castle("You're now in my domain, gentlemen. And, you shall not leave"), Dracula lifts Van Helsing in the air, hurling him into a suit of armor!

While director Dan Curtis' version of Dracula, based on a screenplay written by the great Richard Matheson, doesn't relish in bloody heart stakings, it does feature Dracula casting those that stand in his away to the side, clutching their throats with benevolent intent, moving them out his way. What I liked about this Dracula was his determination to achieve his aspirations in regards to finding and recovering Lucy(Fiona Lewis), who resembled identically a former love from his days as a mighty Hungarian warrior fighting armies..many attribute this romantic sub-plot(..nowhere even near as overbearing as it was in Coppola's film)to Curtis' own Dark Shadows, which he even admitted in an interview regarding the similarities of a vampire desiring to attain his true love through any means necessary.

There's a magnificent scene where Dracula calls for Lucy to come, not knowing that she had been put to rest by Van Helsing who relieved her vampire curse by ramming a stake into her heart, the result showing the Count going berserk, destroying objects in the mausoleum, including turning over her casket! Matheson's screenplay avoids major emphasis on Jonathan Harker's(Murray Brown)time with Dracula, opting instead to move from Transylvania to England where the Count eyes Lucy, Arthur(Simon Ward), her fiancé, calling on Van Helsing(..an impressive Nigel Davenport, who remains restrained and contained, not going over-the-top or creating a too eccentric scientist, firmly grounding his character into a dedicated pragmatist)to assist in determining what exactly is contributing to her anemia and sudden sickly nature. Penelope Horner's Mina isn't as richly presented, more of a supporting character whose endangered life(..Dracula, as revenge against Van Helsing and Arthur for the loss of Lucy, has Mina drink from his blood so he can control her)will need rescuing.

What I truly love about this production(..and the BBC version, featuring Louis Jordan as a more sophisticated, aristocratic Count)is the location shooting, evoking a totally different period by shooting in England, particularly the Castle Dracula, where Van Helsing and Arthur discover a pit and Iron Maiden, not to mention the coven of vampire brides in their coffins. Great jump scare where we find out about Harker's fate after being left behind by Dracula to become fodder for his brides. Unlike the Hammer Dracula films, this version shows that sunlight only paralyzes the Count, not burning his flesh. Another element not seen in other Dracula films is how the Count uses a mad dog to attack those he doesn't wish to bother with, and I was amused by how irritated he would get with those who would start up a row when he'd appear on the scene, trespassing, a contempt for mortals who thought they could harm him with pistols or fisticuffs.
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Something To Sink Your Teeth In
BaronBl00d14 April 2001
This seldom-seen, seldom-discussed Dracula film is all in all pretty entertaining. It is a fairly faithful adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, although it integrates the Vlad Tepes myth into the storyline as well. One definitely can see this film being an inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola's trashy film of the 90's. Jack Palance may not have been the best choice for the role of the toothsome lead. He does overact with his somewhat ludicrous sneers and temper tantrums, but that not withstanding the rest of the cast is quite good(all of them British coincidentally) with Nigel Davenport standing out in a Van Helsing role which I wish had been bigger and Fiona Lewis just being scrumptuous! Dan Curtis does a very competent job directing and the sets, costumes, props, etc... are lavish and beautiful. This is certainly an interesting film to see in the long line of Dracula films made.
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Great Dracula Movie
riotrr26 July 2004
I've watched this version of Dracula many times and each time I watch it I'm reminded again of how good it is. This is one of my favorite Dracula movies ever.

Made for television in the early 1970s, it's still capable of keeping me interested and still gives me a few chills.

Great acting abounds in this film. Nigel Davenport makes a very convincing Van Helsing. The talented Fiona Lewis is excellent as Lucy. Jack Palance is wonderful as Dracula. He is probably the most physically imposing Dracula ever. His Dracula doesn't shrink away and hide from those that might oppose him like many portrayals of Dracula seem to do. Jack's Dracula will confront his enemies with vicious super-human strength, often destroying them in the confrontations. I really like this physically dominating Dracula. He's a great physical danger to others as well as a spiritual one!

All in all, this is a great movie and I highly recommend it. 9 out of 10!
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A true image of a Vampire Lord
lordwillie23 February 2001
This is a review in retrospect, since it's been about 20+ years or so since I saw it on TV. However, despite the time passed might seem great, the overall impressions is still there, and for a reason. This is just simply one of the best visualizations of a Vampire Lord filmed.

Jack Palance moves through the story with absolute power and confidence - as it becomes him - being an Immortal creature. I remember being truly pleased by this one thing; at last, a movie that showed how this powerful creature a Vampire really is, also allowed it to behave like an Immortal being.

Palance is not the kind that lurks in the shadows waiting to stab it's unsuspecting prey in the back, he steps out and confronts his hunters in the open and laugh mercilessly at their despair. Of course these puny humans chasing him is nothing more than an itch to be scratched. Annoying, but nothing more...

This film makes a very believable depiction of what it would be like to have an undead Immortal Lord (or Count) crashing through your neighborhood...
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"I who commanded armies hundreds of years before you were born..."
patrick.hunter19 December 2001
Jack Palance is not the sexiest nor the spookiest Dracula, but he's a marvelous choice for many reasons--and he definitely stands out from the other (often memorable) performances. Only a couple of years before doing this movie, Palance starred in the film THE HORSEMAN, playing a legendary bukashi rider; it was only one of several such horseman-warrior roles Palance specialized in (including the part of Revak in an Italian film titled THE BARBARIANS). In fact, Palance is an actor who can claim to have played both Dracula AND Attila the Hun.

Some might wonder what that has do with the bloodsucking count, but at one point in the Stoker novel, Dracula says, "the blood of Attila flows through these veins." Though they didn't retain that particular line, the film-makers emphasize from beginning to end this particular Dracula is an ex-warrior--and Palance suggests a former, Magyar beserker brilliantly.

This is also the first version of the novel to have the motivation of Dracula travelling to England for the purpose of reclaiming his lost love--an idea that adds a touch of pathos. Perhaps Dan Curtis did simply re-use it from his DARK SHADOWS series, but I can't help but wonder, however, if the idea might also have sprung from this movie's adapter, Richard Matheson. A talented novelist in his own right, Matheson wrote the book (and the screenplay) of SOMEWHERE IN TIME, which also has a central character searching for his true love across the ages. In any case, it's an approach that adds a layer to Dracula's character and would be used again in the Coppola version. I think it will be used in future adaptations as well. In any case, for the record, this was the version that did it first.

All in all, this version isn't as stylish or as atmospheric as some others, but it's well worthwhile and is a must in any Dracula fan's library.
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A great version of the classic tale.
rob_h30 December 2000
Leave it to a film class student to come up with a ridiculous, negative review (see below)! The Dan Curtis _Dracula_ was the first version to add the variation of the long-lost love angle to the traditional vampire story. Curtis's variation seems to have worked; it's showed up in several other later versions. What's more, the adaptation of Stoker's novel "feels" right and is very faithful to the original. Jack Palance, far from looking constipated (see review below), brings an eerie ambiguity to the film with his odd expressions--is he in pain? Is he sad about what he does? We don't know, and that makes the film worth seeing again and again. As in Curtis's well-known series _Dark Shadows_, the suspenseful music (by the marvelous Robert Cobert) is made to tell a great deal of the story. And as always, the music fits the images like a glove. The supporting actors are _all_ fabulous--I'm a big fan of Nigel Davenport. And now that the film is available on DVD, one has a greater sense for Curtis's grand visual style. In short, this _Dracula_'s a keeper, one of the really great versions of Bram Stoker's wonderful novel.
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Still one of the scariest Dracula versions out there.
Boba_Fett113812 May 2008
It's the combination of the '70's- and dark horror atmosphere that makes this movie such an highly effective and great one. It's a real shame that this made for TV Dracula version, based on the Bram Stoker novel, is not any better known.

The movie has an amazing dark atmosphere that adds to the tension and horror of the movie. This is a true genuinely scary horror movie and definitely amongst scariest of all the Dracula movies out there.

The movie uses some great settings. Despite the fact that this is made for TV movie, it's not a cheap looking film. They did a real good job with this and its low budget can be seen nowhere back on screen.

It's certainly true that the movie uses a bit too many zooms into the characters faces and all but that all was part of '70's film-making when film-makers experimented a lot with cinematography. Perhaps it was also an homage to the old days of horror cinema. Technically its a fine made movie by TV director and horror expert Dan Curtis.

Too bad that the acting is also quite laughable at times. And no I'm not talking about Jack Palance as Dracula. I actually quite liked him in his role and I think he did a good job with his interpretation of the character. Too bad that he never played the famous count again after this movie, despite having several movie offers to do so. All the other actors in this movie aren't obviously amongst the most experienced or talented ones. I especially disliked the way Nigel Davenport portrayed the Dr. Van Helsing character.

It's not like this movie version is adding anything new with its story to the Dracula movie legacy. As a matter of fact it's rather leaving out stuff then putting in some new elements. For instance there is no Renfield character in this movie or any mentioning of him. If you're familiar with the Dracula story or any of its movies you'll notice that this is a movie version that runs pretty much by the book with its story.

A version truly worth seeing!


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Perfect storm of actor, writer and director
zink-paul5 December 2007
No point in going over the story, of course, since it's been filmed and staged for theater so many times. This production sticks close to the Bram Stoker novel, but adds an extra element of romance with a love story that in turn adds depth and texture to the character of Dracula.

Dan Curtis of "Dark Shadows" fame does a fine job of directing this -- as he did earlier with an outstanding version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (also with Jack Palance playing masterfully in the title role). And the script by the famed supernatural and fantasy writer Richard Matheson ("I Am Legend", etc.) is excellent. The sets and art direction -- right down to the bright red location captions -- are reminiscent of the Hammer Films' Dracula movies with Christopher Lee (which is not a bad thing), however, the soundtrack could have been better-composed in my opinion.

However, the most distinguishing aspect of this production of the Dracula story is Jack Palance. I have to believe that Jack Palance could have seemed ominous when buying a loaf of bread at the supermarket or putting a quarter in a parking meter, such is the man's presence. In contrast to the contemporaneous (and excellent, tho' different) Frank Langella version, Jack Palance makes the viewer believe instantly that the character of Dracula really was an ancient Warlord of Wallachia who commanded armies with his sheer presence and force of character -- something that would be a stretch for, say, Bela Lugosi to pull off. Palance gives the viewer a constant and riveting portrait of restless energy, enormous physical strength, singled-minded will and relentless focus.
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Not the best but one of the truer adaptations
Vigilante-4079 August 2000
This was actually the first Dracula movie I ever remember seeing, so Jack Palance was always identified with the role for me. I recently picked up the video, and while the movie is not the greatest, it does have its points.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. Van Helsing is lamely acted, and Jonathan Harker is a character that is just too English to really care about. The divergences in the story with Harker annoy me, but considering everything, it doesn't foul the adaptation much.

In actuality, I consider this to be one of the truest adaptations of Bram Stoker's story. You can see a lot of the imagery in this film revamped and reworked in Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula", which is probably the best adaptation to date (even considering the many changes and additions that were made to the story and the characters). Watch this Dracula, and then "Count Dracula" with Klaus Kinski and Christopher Lee to get a real feel for what the novel is...then watch the Coppola blockbuster and decide for yourself.
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very unusual retelling of the Dracula story
MartinHafer20 February 2006
This film is by Dan Curtis--the man most famous for bringing the world the TV show "Dark Shadows". However, following this show, Curtis made several excellent monster films--such as this Dracula as well as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I admire this film for trying to be different. Jack Palance as Dracula?! Well, it does work provided you are willing to accept a Dracula that looks and acts NOTHING like the one from Dracula (1931) or Nosferatu (1922). Instead of the monstrous Dracula or the weird Dracula, this Dracula is a combination of the vampire and the real-life Vlad the Impaler (who was named "Dracula"--literally, "son of the dragon"--a 15th century maniac who fought against the Muslim invasions of Europe). And, because it is so different, it does work. While not "earth shaking", it is very satisfying and fun to watch. After giving this a shot, also try to find a copy of Palance's earlier DR. JECKYL AND MR. HYDE. They're both pretty good.

By the way, look as Van Helsing is sinking a stake into the vampiress' heart late in the film. When she screams, you can clearly see several very modern fillings in her teeth.
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The best Dracula to date.
czarina-210 July 1999
I think the reviewer who watched this at film school was smoking something funny and definitely wasn't paying attention. Of all the Draculas to date, this was by far the best. I think that if there is a Dracula, it will look like Jack.
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henry8-310 January 2019
Fairly enjoyable but workmanlike version of the classic tale. Davenport is fine as Van Helsing but it's Palance everyone wants to see. He does ooze evil and in the final scenes carries a gravitas of an ancient warrior that few have brought to the screen - usually just sultry, sexy and dark. Unfortunately the role calls for most of his time to be spent staring / snarling or marching purposefully with cape a flapping, which is a shame.
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A nice compact 'Dracula' that gives you a little taste of Stoker... but you have to brace yourself for Jack Palance
DarthVoorhees20 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Bram Stoker's original novel is hard to adapt for film. I doubt we will ever get that truly faithful film adaptation just because Stoker tells the story through so many perspectives and methods. The Count himself is more of a presence than a character for much of the novel. I bring this up because with so many adaptations and reimaginings it is nice to see a screenwriter attempt to revisit Stoker because in truth his work gets neglected in the tellings and retellings. Adaptation is an art and the best thing about this 'Dracula' is Richard Matheson and how he took the epic horror masterpiece and it's best elements and turned it into an intimate effective thriller.

The film peaks in it's introductory sequences. It isn't surprising that these scenes are when the film is closest to the novel. Murray Brown is the best screen Jonathan Harker. Harker is really a thankless and tricky role to play. Even the best adaptations like 'Nosferatu' and the '31 classic clumsily deal with the character. He's portrayed as a doubter or naive to the point of being self destructive. Brown finds an effective middle ground, playing Harker as a little bit naive but mostly in awe of the strange world Dracula lures him to; not knowing whether to be fascinated or terrified. Brown isn't a milquetoast David Manners at all. He has screen presence and isn't overwhelmed in his interactions with Palance.

Palance kind of makes or breaks the film. He's creepy; whether or not it is intentional is up for debate as he kind of was a very creepy presence in everything he starred in! He could have been an amazing horror star had his career steered that way. Palance is a good Dracula, not a great one. I say this because he really doesn't fit the Dracula written in this story. As I mentioned earlier Matheson had a challenge as he wanted to stay quasi-faithful to Stoker's novel which the Count is absent from for quite a while. And so he creates the story of a Count pining for a lost love for centuries. Palance is not the kind of actor for this material. This is Langella/Lugosi material. Palance is the animal Dracula not the sexual one. He could have been a great Dracula had he starred in Dracula in the vein of a Nosferatu approach, showing vampirism as a curse.

The movie does a great job condensing everything and making it more intimate. Nigel Davenport is a serviceable Van Helsing as he rhapsodizes about vampirism in large ballrooms or caverns. He doesn't quite have the eccentric factor of a Cushing but he bears himself as a man of knowledge quite well. Simon Ward is completely wasted as Arthur. Murray Brown might have fared better. He just is meek and isn't able to match Davenport who completely overwhelms him. Fiona Lewis has the most hypnotic eyes, she is perfect as the doomed Lucy.

This 'Dracula' has it's moments. Your opinion of it will largely come down to what you think of Palance. The 1970's were a good decade for Dracula. The last two Lee Hammer films are highly entertaining. Kinski and Langella rank as two of the best Dracula's. Palance isn't quite in that territory in my opinion. Yet if we look at the screenplay and how it plays with Stoker I think we have something really special here. It makes me wish Matheson wasn't confined to a made forTV movie.
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A minor piece of flotsam
hung_fao_tweeze30 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The problem with Dracula or vampire movies these days is that there are so many of them and each clings to its various qualities (or lack of) so that watching a TV movie from 1974 and expecting it to register positively against this intimidating backdrop is probably too much to burden any single feature with. However, 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker', also a TV movie from 1974, exceeds expectations and still plays well with audiences today. So, when I mentioned to a fellow movie-buff that I had watched this Jack Palance vehicle, he had never heard of it but felt that it must somehow be awesome simply because of Jack's presence. Unfortunately, this does not hold true here and I had to tell him. Written by Richard Matheson, I was expecting something with a bit of a twist. He wrote 'Twilight Zone' episodes, after all! Perhaps my anticipation was not called for here. This is pretty much a straight-up retelling or alternate realization of the basic Bram Stoker character and tale. There are really no surprises unless one would want to call Dracula seeing a photo of a girl who resembles a woman he loved centuries ago and that becomes his raison d'etre for the rest of the film a surprise twist. Actually, that was a fairly common theme in the old TV show 'Dark Shadows'. Well, what a surprise. Old Dan Curtis is at the directorial helm here and is essentially rekindling ideas he has used previously. So, maybe the failure of this movie lies with the director? That is not to say that this movie is terrible. It is not. But as noted, the sheer prevalence of so many really good vampire movies shoves this one into obscurity as demonstrated by my movie-buff friend's complete ignorance of this film's existence. The bright spot in this limp production is Palance's performance. He is really great here. Without him there isn't much point in viewing this, quite frankly. Alas, gone is the vampire that changes into a bat, a wolf (dark German Shepherds, actually), or a cloud of fog. He still sleeps in a coffin by day, though. He can still be deterred by a crucifix and garlic. Thus, some of the reliable Hollywood vampire nuances are still present. Even the sunlight can be hazardous although he doesn't flake away like Christopher Lee. OK. We can deal with that. Yet, the one that is missing that seemed the most annoying is his ability to enter a household or residence without first getting permission to do so. (Handled superbly in 'Let The Right One In') Lugosi's Dracula, at least, schmoozed his way in and socialized providing dreadful anticipation of what is to become. Palance is much more direct and just crashes in. However, Jack does the absolute best with the material and occasionally transforms a couple of instances into very successful terror. Unfortunately, absolutely everyone else in this presentation is nearly instantly forgettable. In addition, one very annoying feature is the lack of detail to the general surroundings. I realize this was a TV movie and a very limited budget. Still, Dracula's 15th century castle's architecture was occasionally too modern and, in fact, sported catacomb arches built from a very modern brick and mortar painted over with lumpy white paint. It looked very much like any number of more recent basement crawlspaces. The outer facade was unconvincing as well looking frequently like some kind of smoothed stucco. The ambiance of the countryside tries to be mysterious but every now and then I halfway expected someone on a little motorbike to come putting through. Also noted previously are the stock German Shepherds substituting for wolves. Yet, should this film be faulted for resorting to this when so many other movies manage to do so and still chill? That is the problem, isn't it. This movie just didn't chill the way it could have. I am giving it a 6 mostly for Palance's performance. Watch for the way he tries to get around the crucifix held in his direction. He paced nervous and restless like a caged lion. Also, see the screaming rages he flies into. Some of those are surprisingly frightening. It is a shame the rest of the film couldn't keep up with Jack's performance.
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Dracula Revived For the 1970s
gavin69425 October 2012
Bistritz, Hungary, May 1897: Natives in Transylvania seem afraid when they learn solicitor Jonathan Harker (Murray Brown) is going to Castle Dracula.

Who thought that Jack Palance would make a good Dracula? Clearly director Dan Curtis, who had previously worked with Palance on "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", saw the potential. He has a very distinctive look, different from what might be called a traditional vampire look. And yet, Palance is amazing.

The rumor is that Palance turned down offers to play Dracula again. True or not, it would be no surprise if he received such offers -- his performance is incredible, and he really threw himself into the role. (He reportedly said he felt that he was "becoming" Dracula more than he wanted.)

The director? Dan Curtis. Already famous for "Dark Shadows", he would go on to become legendary. This film played no small role in that. Curtis is a horror legend that we were unfortunate to lose. Along with Bob Clark, these two directors came from a generation we cannot replicate.

"I Am Legend" novelist Richard Matheson co-wrote the script with Curtis. Matheson may be the greatest horror screenwriter ever, having done a fine job adapting Poe stories for Roger Corman, among others. While many adaptations of Dracula have been written and filmed, Curtis and Matheson still found a way to make the story fresh and new, focusing on a love interest that is not present in the source material.

All in all, this may be the best adaptation up to that point, most likely. A bold claim given the dozens of versions from Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee and beyond, but Palance delivers and the costumes and scenery really set the tone. Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992) is now the benchmark and overall superior, but even that does not match this film's tone.

MPI released the film on DVD in 2002 and again on Blu-Ray in 2014. The difference is unclear. If the picture and sound have been improved, the package makes no mention of that. The running time is decreased from 100 minutes to 98, which is probably a print clarification rather than an actual cut. The Blu-Ray adds outtakes and TV cuts, as well as a French audio track. Apparently, however, the French subtitles have been removed (or they still exist but are not worth mentioning). Both feature vintage interviews with Jack Palance and Dan Curtis.

Generally speaking, Blu-Ray releases are superior to older DVD versions. And if you own neither, the Blu-Ray is the only choice. That being said, if someone already has the DVD, an upgrade may not be in order... this is not a "special edition" and fans will gain little by buying the film again.
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From dark shadows...
poe4266 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Television pioneer Dan Curtis's take on that greatest of night stalkers, aided and abetted by maestro Richard Matheson, still chills the blood. While the "reincarnation" of Dracula's long-lost lady love was an idea Curtis lifted from his own DARK SHADOWS, it's Jack Palance's turn as The Lord of the Undead that is most memorable here. Like Charles MacCauley in BLACULA, Palance gives us a driven Dracula who is very much to be feared: he strides purposefully through castle and hotel hallway alike in pursuit of his goal and there is quite literally no one who can stop him. Palance (like MacCauley, and unlike many others) has the presence to pull this off. Christopher Lee was the alternative at the time and his, too, was a powerful presence- but there's something even darker and more dangerous about Palance. When he is confronted on a hotel stairway, he dispatches his assailant with what looks like an open-handed karate chop that sends the man heels over head over the bannister. This Dracula is clearly capable of great violence at a moment's notice. When he confronts the serviceable but oddly unemotional Simon Ward (along with Nigel Davenport) and steps up to the young man, there's a moment where one anticipates nothing less than a full-blown decapitation. It doesn't happen, but the threat there is palpable because of Palance's performance. (The shot of Palance, his craggy countenance pale and bloodless, standing on the beach next to the wreckage of the Demeter, is one of the most memorable images from this movie: one can easily imagine Palance overwhelming the ship's hapless crew...) Robert Cobert's score (as ever) strikes just the right chord(s), conveying a brooding sense of menace. The England and Yugoslavia locations through which these characters move are picture perfect and put to shame many of the stage-bound sets used in the Hammer films of the same period. Curtis and Matheson have reworked the story so that it's even better (and less cluttered) than in any other version and the final shot, of The Impaler impaled against an upturned tabletop before a Dorian Gray-like portrait of himself in battle (with distant cries of "Dracula, Dracula" echoing down through the ages), is brilliant. My pick for the best Dracula movie ever.
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A gem in the history of horror cinema
HHoffman-210 November 2006
Before Francis Ford Coppola brought us the lush colors and atmospheric music of his film, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Dark Shadows' creator, Dan Curtis, treated us to his own film of the same title.

Based moderately close to the novel from which its based, Bram Stoker's Dracula stars the late Jack Palance as the vampire count. Having a very Slavic-looking physique and powerful presence, Palance fits the role of a Romanian aristocrat perfectly. His mixture of emotions are acted appropriately, without much overacting (though he cringes a little too much).

The acting in general, however, is only standard fare; nothing phenomenal. Nigel Davenport's performance as Van Helsing is nowhere near as distinct as the acting of Peter Cushing, Anthony Hopkins, or Edward Van Sloan.

The production values reflect the quality of the film a great deal, and I'm happy to say that this film has quality. The sets look appropriate, rivaling that of Hammer Studios'. Robert Cobert's score effectively highlights the anguish of Dracula as well as showing the horror of vampirism and its effect on other characters.

There is little more I can say about this film other than it should be viewed for Jack Palance's excellent performance as Count Dracula and the haunting environment that the character inhabits.
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Scary then; Scary now.
lancaster277826 March 2006
This version was my first Dracula movie. I was a sheltered, impressionable young girl at the time I watched it on TV. I didn't know about Dracula or Jack Palance--or horror. I stayed awake that entire night expecting Dracula to appear in the bedroom doorway. This movie should have scared me then; I was 10. After I saw this movie, I felt different about things. I know that in the oncoming decades other versions were made; I've seen some of them. I had the opportunity to see this Dracula for the second time in my life a few months back; it scared me as it scared me decades ago. There's something about the way this movie 'tastes' that enables the horror within it to remain pure and palpable. The cast and crew captured the pure essence of Dracula's horror on film for future generations to experience. From the music to the surroundings to Jack Palance, everything about this movie lends itself to the viewer's experience of a true horror classic. Jack Palance's portrayal of The Count is sheer perfection. From the top of his black patent leather hair to the bottom of his black patent leather boots, he's diabolic horror personified. So, I invite you to get your hands on a copy of this version; sit down and let this movie wash over you. Just make sure it's in the middle of the day and all the lights are on in your 'pad'. Oh, this version isn't perfect, but--the--horror--within--it--is. Bela, watch out!
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Still the best Dracula movie ever made!
scott-scocar20 August 2007
First saw this movie the night it debuted on February 8, 1974 when I was 5 years old. At the time, I was reading The Tomb of Dracula (a Marvel comic book) and the movie brought it to life for me.

The director Dan Curtis said it best, "Jack Palance was the best Dracula there ever was." According to author Richard Matheson, the original version was 3 hours long but edited down to 1.5 hours. I wonder if the original footage is still available to re-create the original 3 hour version as Matheson and Curtis intended? Until that happens, fans will have to read the original Richard Matheson script available in his book, "Bloodlines" available from Amazon.com.
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