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Much better than I'd heard.
dr_foreman6 March 2007
For years, I've listened to horror fans talk trash about the 1979 "Dracula." It's not faithful to the book, they'd complain, it's not scary, it's only made for the sake of middle-aged ladies who fancy Frank Langella, etc. etc.

Well, I'm happy to report that the horror fans are way off base this time. This "Dracula" is a classy, creepy, and sometimes downright exciting production. Sure, the script doesn't follow the events of the book exactly - the whole thing takes place in England! - but it makes the most of its limitations, so to speak.

Langella makes a very classy Dracula. He apparently refused to wear fangs or demon eyes for the role, focusing instead on making the count more "human" - not to mention arrogant, intelligent, and, I suppose, sexy (for me and other guy viewers, though, the eye candy in this movie is Kate Nelligan). Perhaps Langella is a little too "normal," and his big hair is slightly amusing, but on the whole I think he plays the role with dignity, inhabiting Dracula in a far more convincing way than the likes of Gary Oldman.

The rest of the cast is pretty good, too. Nelligan makes a lovely, capable heroine, and Trevor Eve is an OK (if underused) Jonathan Harker. Laurence Olivier's Van Helsing is a lot better than most people say he is - he comes across as smart, brave and an overall worthy opponent for Dracula. Reviewers tend to mock his Dutch accent, but I don't get too wrapped up in stuff like that; it sounds fine to me. I certainly think the cast here is much better than the parade of wooden actors and crazy hams in the Coppola version.

I like the production values of this film, too. The special effects are mostly photographic tricks but they look cool, and they aren't overbearing like modern CGI effects. The sets and locations are attractive, though the designers went a bit overboard with the Gothic ruin of Carfax Abbey (probably because they wanted to make it a substitute for the absent Castle Dracula). And, of course, the eerie John Williams score is a treat, and rightly praised by most critics.

Another plus is that the movie features a number of very powerful scenes - I love Dracula's confrontation with Van Helsing in the study, and the terrifying moment when Van Helsing encounters his vampire daughter in the mine shaft. Creepy stuff; no wonder this movie freaked me out when I was a kid!

On the downside, I found Dr. Seward, as played by Donald Pleasence, slightly too grotesque and lame to be believed. And, as usual for these Dracula adaptations, Renfield seemed borderline extraneous. The plotting flakes apart a bit at the end, too, with the car chase scene coming across as silly - and what, exactly, does the final image in the film mean? It's slightly too enigmatic for my tastes. I am supposed to be rooting for Dracula to survive or something?

Still, this is one of the better Draculas. The 1977 BBC version is more faithful and probably better. But this is arguably the best adaptation of the story to come out of Hollywood.
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Underrated adaptation of Stoker's classic
Libretio16 February 2005

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound format: Dolby Stereo

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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Underrated, classy take on the vampire legend
ThomasHayden14 September 2005
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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Vastly Underrated in it's day but a stylish Victorian Version.
ozthegreatat4233028 March 2007
Frank Langella essays an excellent portrayal of the suave and commanding Count Dracula. And he is surrounded with a powerhouse cast, including Sir Laurence Olivier as van Helsing and Donald Pleseance as Dr, Seward. helped by the magnificent English scenery and splendid sets, such as the Carfax Abbey set with it's thousands of candles when Mina comes to dine. Also the character of Renfield is much more of a sympathetic creature in this version. This production, as was the 1931 Universal version, was taken by the Hamilton dean play, with quite a few script additions. And I agree with the young woman who said that she could understand how this Dracula, with his oozing sensuality, could so easily draw women to him. Of all the screen Draculas Langella is the one with the most sex appeal. Finally to round out the charms of this film is the fantastic sound score created by John Williams. (Where does he find the time to do all these film scores? And all of them so great.) Surprisingly, when it first opened this film version was a flop, which I feel was undeserved. But time has shown it to be a much better film than deemed.
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Langella's portrayal outdoes them all. Sexy, charming.
oprlvr30 January 2004
I have seen many different DRACULA films since I could ride a bike, and I have to say that this movie, was by far, the best of them all.

Okay, call me a sensitive, (lusting) hopeless romantic - if you will. But Frank Langella's exquisite performance was a new twist on the horrid, vengeful, bloodsucker from the classic Stoker novel.

For over two decades, women have found Langella's portrayal to be the most erotic, sexy and desirable by comparison, because of his physique, masculinity, voice, and natural charisma. In fact, to me - Frank Langella IS/WAS Dracula, not just an actor who played the role.

But, I wholly credit the film makers for opting to steer THIS film into a more romantic, passionate, sexual approach. With the dozens of DRACULA films produced---the flavor does begin to stagnate. After all, how many other (Dracula) films have flopped? Not just due to the poor casting, bad direction or writing either. A film goer can only stand to see exact or similar performances for so long---(remember the "FRIDAY THE 13TH" series?)

Also, the special effects used in this film were very impressive, for 1979. Most of the Dracula/wolf morph scenes were pulled off convincing, as was the Dracula/bat changes during the VAN-HELSING / HARKER / DRACULA scene at Carfax Abbey. I was duly impressed by the 'invisible man' door opening effect (after Lucy's seduction) when DRACULA pays VAN-HELSING a "surprise" visit -

"...I did not hear you come in, Count..."

In addition, Frank Langella's natural astigmatism or "dancing eyes" only completed an intensifying, dramatic effect, that no effort of modern technology could possibly recreate.

MOVING ON TO THE FILM: what woman doesn't dream of being kissed as Dracula kisses Lucy during (you know what scene I'm talking about). At first, they are standing atop the balcony, commenting about "the children of the night". Well, Dracula would have swept me off my feet too! And then, later in the bedroom scene, when Dracula seduces Lucy---well, what more can I say?

Stepping backward, if you please, to the intermediate `Seward Dinner', following the opening scene; when Count Dracula finally makes his first bold appearance. I felt as though I were actually watching the drama unfold on a live stage, in front of me!

Yes, Hollywood has been producing DRACULA films for nearly a century. However, the film producers really put the monster in a whole new, more human perspective - as only Frank Langella could do - with perfection.

In fact, it was Langella's stunning Off-Broadway performance that sparked the film maker's idea to adapt this script to the big screen.

Alongside a stellar cast of fine performances from Nelligan and veterans Olivier and Sutherland, this film deeply portrays DRACULA; at first as an alluring, romantic, sexy, suave Monarch. But then, gradually untwists to reveal the true lusting, hideous, destructive 'creature of the night'.

That's my say [for now]

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A Gothic masterpiece. The quintessential vampire movie.
budmassey3 December 2002
After so many years, Lugosi's performance of Dracula wilts into camp, and the overblown Coppola version, while visually stimulating, comes across as so much hyperbole. Oldman was brilliant, but a few of his lines were poorly delivered, almost laughably so.

But Langella was the master of all vampires. His performance reels with sexual presence and a charm and sophistication that renders all other Dracula movies null and void. And why not? He had countless performances on Broadway to perfect his character, and perfect it he did. He insisted on touches, such as never wearing fangs, or never appearing with blood on his face, that added class to the vampire legend and places this version a cut above the rest.

Kate Nelligan (Prince of Tides) was so young and beautiful then and it was easy to believe that she could inspire a love that could transcend death and time. Olivier was already a ghost, and many of the scenes that involved activity no more strenuous than walking actually had to be shot with a stand in. It is rumored that Sir Larry's performance was so frail that impressionist Rich Little actually had to be called in to dub some of Olivier's lines, as he had done for David Niven in his final Pink Panther film, because the originals were virtually unintelligible given the poor health of the actors.

The brooding and regal score by John Williams drives the movie quite nicely. The film was edited by John Bloom, who a couple of years later would edit The French Lieutenant's Woman with a similar feel, and shot by Gil Taylor who shot, among other greats, the original Star Wars. Stoker would have been proud of the final result, particularly so with Langella's masterful and groundbreaking performance that launched a career. Dracula is a Gothic masterpiece that has never been given its due.

In 2004 director Badham decided to release a version in which the color had been drained from the movie, in much the same way as its central character drained color, blood and life from his victims, perhaps an intentional comparison. The "making of" featurette is delightful, and producer Mirisch's hilarious tongue in cheek observation of the "holy water" effect has already been misquoted by earnest IMDb reviewers. The remake is nice, but it was gilding the lily. And although the film was indeed improved by this modification, it had already surpassed any of its would be peers and remains the quintessential vampire movie.
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Sexually dangerous Dracula
Smells_Like_Cheese16 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure why but when people discuss Dracula films, Frank Langella is often looked over. He's my personal favorite Dracula, to me at least he captures everything that Dracula is supposed to be. In the book, he doesn't have an accent, he's just a charming gentleman who happens to be a monster that will turn on you and destroy anything that will get in his path of what he wants. So what makes this Dracula so different from the previous two? The first Dracula played by Bela was suave, but he was bent on making others into his slave. The second Dracula played by Christopher Lee was charming but a true monster in every sense of the word as well as a sexual predator. Frank Langella brings class, charm, chills and oozes sex appeal. He's the first real romantic Dracula who doesn't just bite the cutest girl next to him but actually falls in love with someone. It's one of the rare times where we look at Dracula not just as a monster but that he was human once and he still has emotions, perhaps never lost from his mortal life. Good actors and a chilling atmosphere gives this Dracula something special and that should be looked at more often.

Count Dracula arrives from Transylvania to England one night through ship. Mina Van Helsing, who is visiting her friend Lucy Seward, discovers Dracula's body after his ship has run aground. After praising her as his "Savior," the Count visits Mina and her friends at the household of Lucy's father, Dr. Jack Seward, whose mansion also serves as the local asylum. At dinner, he proves to be a charming guest and leaves a strong impression on the hosts, Lucy especially. Less charmed by this handsome Romanian count is Jonathan Harker, Lucy's fiancé. Dracula later reveals his true nature as he descends upon Mina to drink her blood. The following morning, Lucy finds Mina awake in bed struggling for breath. At a loss for the cause of death, Dr. Seward calls for Mina's father, Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing suspects what might have killed his daughter: a vampire. Seward and Van Helsing investigate their suspicions and discover a makeshift tunnel within Mina's coffin which leads to the local mines. It is there that they encounter the ghastly form of an undead Mina, and it is up to a distraught Van Helsing to destroy what remains of his own daughter. Lucy meanwhile has been summoned to Carfax Abbey, Dracula's new home, and soon she reveals herself to be in love with this foreign prince and openly offers herself to him as his bride. Now the men are determined to save her from Dracula before losing her forever like Mina.

My one complaint about the film is that it is dated with the weird James Bond like style of the love scene between Lucy and Dracula. It's very odd and not well placed with the style of the film. Lucy and Mina's names being switched didn't bother me at all, they're still part of the story. Honestly, I gave up a Dracula movie being 100% faithful to the novel years ago, it's just not going to happen, at least for a while. Dracula does not have fangs in this film, but Frank's performance is still very chilling and hypnotic. Mina as a vampire was just horrifying and gave me nightmares as a child. While the film could be considered slow paced, I still love this movie. I was watching the making of this film and the director mentioned how Dracula wasn't taken so seriously because that year Love at first Bite was also released, a clever parody on Dracula that I also happen to love, but that's sad that this Dracula has always been over looked. It's a very good movie and incredibly under rated. Come on, we have Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, and Donald Pleasence, you can't do any better than that.

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This is the sexiest Dracula ever made.
fastflo1st3 November 2003
Having seen almost all the Dracula and vampire movies ever made, I have to say this one is my modern favorite. I never understood why all those women went so willingly with Bela Lugosi. I mean, he scares me to death. But Frank Langella. Well. What can I say? He's so beautiful and suave, I started taking iron just in case he dropped by for a sip. About 1 hour into the movie is the sexiest scene I have ever watched. And there is NO nudity. All the women I know who have seen this movie know exactly where and when this scene is. Anything else that needs to taken care of is done BEFORE this scene plays. It is always very quiet while it plays and we always watch that it more than once.
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To my mind, the best of all Draculas
integralesixteenvalve24 September 2007
Now, I'm going to forward a controversial comment. This is the BEST adaptation of Dracula yet seen and miles better than Coppola's version.

I liked this adaptation because it was a subtle take on the old legend, needing neither the overblown pretension of Coppola's rather lurid and purple-prosy presentation, nor the schlocky elements of the Hammer versions (as good as they are).

Frank Langella really was the definitive Count. He carried the role off with charm and calculation, making him far more rounded a character than Oldman did (but maybe not with the poignancy). What makes the difference though, is that Langella gets first-class back-up while (with the exception of Anthony Hopkins) Oldman was left on his own by the woodenly gruesome performances of the supporting cast (Wynona Ryder and especially Keanu Reeves were the chief culprits here). Kate Nelligan, Sir Larry and Donald Pleasance were in fine form and Trevor Eve made more of the Jonathan Harker character than Reeves ever could. Jan Francis made a believably frail Mina.

What really makes this film so good though is the superbly Gothic atmosphere. The set for the Count's castle was suitably creepy and the cinematography added to the feel of the period. Technically, Badham's version shows how much has now been lost by the reliance on CGI and digital add-ons.

That this Dracula takes it's cue from the stage adaptation rather than Stoker's original book adds a welcome element of variety. So what if it's not faithful? Does it matter? Very few films these days have this level of class and genuine skill injected into them. John Badham's version has been criminally underrated for years and slagged off by far too many ill-informed pedants. Judge for yourself. Maybe you will disagree about which adaptation is best but , pound to a penny, you won't regret watching it.
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The best of the Dracula's
mccspqr16 November 2004
Having been privileged to see Mr. Langella in the Broadway production several times, This film is the best in the series. Mr. Langella is one of only a handful of actors and actresses whose persona is very keenly transferred to film. The film contained the same romance, suspense, horror and humor as the play, holding true to the Edwin Gory staging where possible. Mr. Langella's eyes danced, his stature towered and powered, and his presence was awesome. I was happy to read that there is a new DVD release from Universal. For anyone who has not seen a Dracula film, this one with Mr. Langella's fine performance is a must, to experience some of the more subtleties of the psyche of Dracula.
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Beautiful Cinematography, Wonderful Cast, but This Is not My Favorite Adaptation of Bram Stocker's Novel
claudio_carvalho1 February 2015
In Whitby, England, the sick Mina Van Helsing (Jan Francis) is spending some days with her friend Lucy Seward (Kate Nelligan) and her father Dr. Jack Seward (Donald Pleasence) in their house that is also an asylum at the seaside. When a ship wrecks on the coast, all the crew is dead and Mina helps the only survivor Count Dracula (Frank Langella), who has just bought the Fairfax Abbey through Lucy's fiancé Jonathan Harker (Trevor Eve). Soon Dracula drinks Mina's blood killing her. Dr. Seward summons Mina's father Prof. Abraham Van Helsing (Laurence Olivier) for the funeral but he arrives late. On the next night, the son of the patient Annie (Janine Duvitski) is attacked by Mina. Prof. Van Helsing discovers that his daughter is undead and the Count Dracula is a vampire. Now Van Helsing, Dr. Seward and Jonathan have to protect Lucy from the powerful vampire.

"Dracula" (1979) is an adaptation of Bram Stocker's novel with beautiful cinematography, haunting music score and a wonderful cast. However this is not my favorite adaptation of the novel. I prefer Werner Herzog "Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht" of the same year and Francis Ford Coppola's version that was made thirteen years later (1992). My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): Not Available on DVD or Blu-Ray
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Not for those seeking the same-old, same old.
FlyFlyStarling22 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Let me ramble a bit here: Personally I'm a bit offended when I hear people describe this version of Dracula as nothing more than an on screen Harlequin romance. One wonders if the individual speaking those words has ever read one of those trashy novels.

What the director manages in this movie is to present us with, instead of a flat out gory horror movie, a psychological look into what is truly horrible. Here we have, for all intents and purposes, an alien -the last of his kind, so he says- desperately clinging to life. The viewer is intended to empathize with him.

Even in his cool, refined, gentlemanly state there is a sense of Dracula's urgency. He has to breed offspring (which, if you read pre-Stoker actual vampire lore is mentioned and common-- not only could vampires have sex and reproduce, they could also reproduce with humans. In fact, one of the ways a male vampire could be spotted to be such would be opening the coffin and finding the corpse sprouting a "chubby".) in whatever manner he can-- he has to. His people are gone. In a way, this makes the human characters in the story more horrible than Dracula-- it would be akin to the last tiger being hunted down for being a tiger and desperately attempting to make other tigers.

It is this predatory vitality that Langella communicates beautifully in this film. All the other male characters are ineffectual, aged, insane, or duplicitous (Harker)-- though they are not played badly, Dracula himself stands as sort of a dark mirror of them all-- and yet with virtues none of the other males possess. In a way, the death of Dracula at the end is the death of the "primal man". All that is left, in the wake, is the "modern man"-- the duplicitous and shallow Harker... and the hope of the primal man's return (the cape floating away on the wind).

Lucy is right, Dracula is the saddest and kindest of all the men there. He could have murdered everyone and taken what he wanted (he demonstrates such powers that I can believe him to be completely able to do such a thing. He can slaughter an entire ship's crew of healthy strapping men-- how are lunatics, two old doctors and a solicitor going to stand up to him if he really wanted to kill them? He's already been "invited"-- he could have destroyed them all at any conceivable time...)-- but he did not. He was a gentleman. It is this nobility, which none of the men (including Van Helsing-- remember the line about sacrilege?) possess, that ends up destroying him. He gives them all chances to look the other way- he does not want to hurt them. In fact, the times Dracula kills in this movie are few. He kills to preserve his own existence (which all of us would do), to feed (which we all, again, do- even vegetarians), to change (enabling procreation, also important) and he kills those who betray him and endanger him (Renfield, the driver of the cart who was trying to slow the horses).

No, I think the reason this selection doesn't appeal to most isn't the romance (though that is what's usually blamed) -- it is the uncomfortable feeling (put forth by the instances I described above) that Humanity holds the real monsters (for various reasons).

And that brings us to Mina. Mina was not crazy and monstrous because she was a vampire. Nor was she crazed because she was already insane before being "tainted" like Renfield. Lucy and Dracula also prove to us that it is quite easy to be sane and be a vampire. Mina, at least in this version, appears to be insane because she awoke inside a coffin- in the dark and had to claw her way out. Anyone who has ever read an account of being entombed alive and then having to dig one's way out knows that this can and does drive people to madness. How much worse would it be to suddenly discover, on top of that, that you are no longer human? ---As far as her reflecting in water-- vampires DO reflect in water according to folklore. They do not reflect in mirrors because, once upon a time, mirrors were actually "silvered" (a mixture of mercury and silver, if I remember correctly) and silver and undead do not mix well.-- The double destruction (stake to paralyze, then heart removal) is also mentioned in folklore and is not unusual in the slightest.

In all, I believe this needs to be taken as a psychological piece of social commentary more than a romance or a "true" adaptation of Stoker's work (even then that's up for grabs. I've read the book myself many times and my interpretation of it is quite different than what would be expected as 'standard'). To call it a Harlequin Romance seems a blanket statement not at all suited for the overall depth of the piece-- it is a work of horror, but I believe it is the horror for mankind's destruction of its own sense of mystery rather than the campy gore slash fest normally associated with that title. I highly recommend it.
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Strange approach to an over-worked story. Doesn't work especially well as it prioritises stylishness while neglecting the scares.
barnabyrudge22 February 2005
Fresh from directing Saturday Night Fever, John Badham here tries to give the Dracula story a stylish makeover. However, in taking this fantastic tale of terror and smearing it with romance, elegance and charm, Badham has stripped the concept of its horror and its spooky atmosphere. Of all the Dracula films ever made, this one might well have the best photography but it also has probably the worst chill factor. I've seen "U" rated movies scarier than this. That probably explains why the film divides critics so much - there are those who rate it highly because of its sumptuous style, while others come away bitterly disappointed as a result of its total disregard for the "horror" side of the story. I must admit I'm not a great fan of this version - I'm a content-over-style man, and this one just doesn't deliver for me.

There's little point going into detail about the plot. Bram Stoker's story has been read and dramatised so many times that everyone knows how it goes. However, this version makes some changes to the source novel (it is based, actually, on a stage play by Balderston and Deane). For instance, Van Helsing is not merely a vampire expert, he is also the father of one of Dracula's earliest victims. Dracula himself is a sexy, charming society-gentleman as opposed to a reclusive, mysterious and creepy figure. These little changes freshen up the plot a little but are not in any other way beneficial to the film.

Performance-wise, the film is variable. Frank Langella plays Dracula quite well (he'd had plenty of practise after performing the role for months on Broadway); Donald Pleasance is great as Dr. Seward; Trevor Eve seems stiff and unconvincing as Jonathan Harker; and Laurence Olivier overacts hideously as Van Helsing. At this point of his career, Olivier was going through a phase of uncontrolled, hammy displays (see The Betsy, Inchon, The Jazz Singer and Clash of the Titans to see what I mean). One has to wonder if someone a little more restrained - say, John Mills or James Mason - might have made a better Van Helsing in 1979. There's great cinematography by Gilbert Taylor, making this a film most assuredly intended for the wide screen, and John Williams adds another memorable score to his list of impeccable film music from the '70s.

Dracula is an OK film, loved by some, detested by others, but it really needed more attention to the frightening aspects. After all, a great-looking horror film is rather a pointless thing if it lacks the ability to spook your mind or jolt you out of your seat.
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Good Dracula Movie For 1979
rj6510 July 2005
I rate this movie a 7 out of 10. I believe that the movie is good for its time. Although it doesn't follow the book 100%(What movie ever does?) it is entertaining. The acting by Langella is as good as you can get and the others did a good job as well. Sir Laurence Olivier is considered the greatest actor to ever live and did a great job as Van Helsing. Donald Pleasance does a good job also but I would rather have seen another actor in this role but maybe its because I still think of his character in The Great Escape. The actor who plays Jonathan Harker is a bit flat. The scenes, screenplay, cinematography and the special effects are all very good for 1979. I also really like the ending of this movie. The music is outstanding but what would you expect from John Williams?
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Romanticized & Beautiful Dracula Film - Underrated
Rainey-Dawn4 November 2016
I don't understand why the ratings on this version of the story of Dracula is so low. It is one of the most beautiful Dracula films on the market. Not quite true to Bram Stoker's book, but then again none of the Dracula films are. This particular version is so romantic, thrilling and exotic in it's way. Lovely Gothic imagery, well acted, awesome casting and a good script/story. Why are the ratings so low? I'll never know.

Maybe it's just me but I find this one of the best Dracula films I've ever seen. Hypnotizing from start to finish. Suspenseful - even if you know the story of Dracula you can still find suspense in this film.

I don't feel I have to give a brief over view of what the story is about because I think almost all of us know the basic story already - so no need to rehash it for this review.

Highly recommended for viewing to Vampire/Dracula lovers.

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Rare and Delicate Beauty!
markhaazen1 May 2012
This is by far the best production of Dracula I have ever seen! The images are beautiful, and the background music flatters the perfect scenery well. Langella is frighteningly charming as the evil Dracula. (Often evil is attractive.) There is real terror in how we are gradually exposed to the full extent of his evil. Eve and Pleasence are fine. Olivier is over the top as Dracula's virtuous enemy. I am not sure this was the author's intention, but it is a powerful tool when an actor like Olivier is introduced in the 2nd half. Comic relief is well placed. (Donald Pleasence is always eating.)

These are two of the greatest things I can say about this masterpiece. (1) The movie is terrifying without a huge amount of blood or effects. Even the characters do not raise their voices much. BUT, the intensity of the situations and dialogues is what can strike fear into us. (2) Like the heroes in Charles Dickens' books, Olivier, Eve, and Pleasence are NOT supermen. They are regular people who rise to face and defeat an evil presence in their setting. The end is done with superb skill. The conversations stop, and the final fight begins. Even the symphony music for the end credits seems to flatter this end well. This is one of those rare movies that I CAN NOT say enough good things about. After you have seen this version of Dracula, NO OTHER version even comes close!
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A dark, sensual and brilliant version of a horror classic Warning: Spoilers
I love Bram Stoker's "Dracula". Not only is it one of my favourite books, its one of the few classic horror novels that remains both gripping and scary. Over the years it has been adapted more times, directly or indirectly, than pretty much any other book, and I've seen most of them from the fantastic (Herzog's "Nosferatu") to the good but flawed (Coppolas version), the bloodily entertaining (most of Hammer's efforts) and the shockingly bad ("Blood for Dracula", "Dracula 2000" and "Blade Trinity" are the standouts here). In terms of my personal preference, I think Herzog's version of "Nosferatu" is my favourite (I far prefer it to the original), while my favourite Count is Christopher Lee.

It seems weird then that I've never seen this film, though that probably can be attributed to both the fact that it's hardly ever shown on TV, and the fact that reviews tend to emphasise the romantic aspects of the film, making it sound sufficiently like an Anne Rice novel for me to have very little interest in it. Actually, this appraisal is quite quite wrong, as Badham's film is as much about dark Gothic horror as it is about sex, much as Stoker's original novel is.

In fact, this is a very dark and full-blooded approach to the much recounted tale, which strips down the novel to its iconic bits then proceeds like a blood-drinking, throat-tearing juggernaut to its violent conclusion. Opening with the shipwreck of the Demeter in Whitby, sailors ripped to pieces by a mysterious evil as the storm lashes against them, inmates of Dr Seward's asylum screaming like wild animals and the sickly Mina (unaccountably swapped for Lucy) discovers a lone survivor, the rakish Count Dracula, on the beach. After recovering, the Count kills Mina, and then turns his attention to corrupting Lucy instead...

The film is romantic, but it is foremost a Gothic piece, a dark twisted tale in which love and death are intertwined, as much a kind of "Wuthering Heights" as a "Dracula". Moments of utmost grisly horror are dotted throughout, particularly when the vampire hunters encounter the hideous creature that Mina has become in the caves beneath the graveyard, or the final battle with the count.

It should be noted that the set design, direction and cinematography are excellent, from the cobweb caked ruins of Dracula's castle to the nightmare of Seward's asylum, Badham creates a nightmarish, almost Dickensian Victorian setting, which utilises some beautiful Cornish coastal landscape. (slightly puzzling to be honest, as its supposed to be Whitby and looks absolutely nothing like it. I'm curious why they didn't just shoot it in Whitby, especially as it is very proud of its Dracula connection and still looks creepy and Victorian). The cinematography is great as well, with some really lush Technicolour scenes that recall Terence Fisher's work for Hammer (which I would argue, is a clear aesthetic influence) but, because of the superior script and acting, it all comes off much better.

There are some liberties taken with the novel, such as confining the action to Whitby and trimming the number of characters, but that doesn't really matter as all the important elements are there, and the tone of the original work is totally nailed, with the contrasting Freudian and Jungian interpretations of Dracula as both a symbol of sex and death, and a symbol of rebirth given full development and exploration by the ambitious script.

The cast is also very good, Langella portrays the count as a kind of rakish figure who can alternate between sexy and sinister and probably is the best Dracula since Lee, while he is offered excellent support by Donald Pleasance as an oddball Dr Seward, Tony Haygarth as a brutish Renfield and Trevor Eve as an exasperated Jonathan Harker. Oddly, the weakest link in the cast is Olivier as Van Helsing, who puts on a stupid accent and hams it up atrociously.

Overall though, this is a terrific version of the oft recounted tale, suffusing rich Gothic imagery with a dark sensuality. Nosferatu aside, this is certainly the best adaptation of Dracula that I have seen.
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A great film!
Movie Nuttball17 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Minor Spoilers

This Dracula in MY opinion is really ahead of it`s time. It is really like a new film dispite it`s year it came out. Frank Langella is just perfect as the Count. He does everything so superb with his eyes dancing,the way he moves his fingers, he is a big man and that makes his presence very haunting. His performance is flawless! There has been many versions of Dracula including the legendary Bela Lugosi but Langella is arguably the best one of them all! This film also co-stars legendary actors Laurence Olivier and Donald Pleasence. The scenery is just beautiful with fog. The score by John Williams is arguably his best! If you are for into love stories this Dracula film has a great one although at times it can be sad and especialy at the end. I recommend all Dracula and Frank Langella fans see this soon and be sure to watch it after sunset:)
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Kirpianuscus18 November 2016
first, for the cast. to meet, together, Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasence and Frank Langella is a real delight. then - for the nuances who reminds, after so many experiments, the original novel. and not the last, the fascinating Dracula by Frank Langella who is more a seducer than the monster. the atmosphere reminds old fashion Gothic literature. the acting preserves the delicacy of tension and gives force and beautiful sparkles to a story who seems be well - known. maybe it is not exactly the best adaptation. but it remains a must see. maybe for the emotions and for the special feeling to discover hide zones of a novel who remains great source of inspiration for the horrors. and this is the great good point of this film - it is the perfect mixture between thriller, mystery and crime, ignoring the rules of horror for a beautiful story who use in wise manner great cinematography.
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This one is called the romanticized version, but seemed horror at its core
Aaron137517 October 2015
I had never seen this version of Dracula, but I had heard things about it. Apparently, I still haven't seen the version most people remember as it was filmed in more vibrant colors than what I had gotten with my DVD that I happened to stumble upon and decided to buy. This version of Dracula I rather enjoyed, more so, than the 1992 version (I liked that one too). This one was said to be the more romanticized Dracula, but I think the 92 version was the one that was a bit too romantic. Here people's throats get ripped out right from the get go and there are cool scenes of undead creatures residing under the cemetery. Sure, Frank Langella's Dracula is a bit of a smooth talker, but at his core is a darkness and arrogance that feels that the men have no power to stop him as he takes the women from their lives and threatens to end their pitiful existence. There are things that are changed from the novel, but I do not find a problem with that, in fact, it made for a surprise as I thought Mina was going to be the object of Dracula's desire. This one did Van Helsing a bit differently too as the cast of this one did a great job for the most part.

The story has a ship trying to get rid of one of its boxes of cargo. Surprise, it gets stuck and one of the crew's throat is ripped out. The residents of a mental asylum are restless and Mina goes out and finds a man who has seemingly survived a terrible boat crash. Seems his name is Count Dracula and he is soon invited to dine at the doctor in charge of the mental asylum, Seward. He arrives and seems very polite and charming and he is not there five minutes before putting the moves on both ladies present. There is something dark about him, and why try to hide it, he is going to try to have some blood.

The cast sets this Dracula apart as Frank Langella does a great job as the count, though Christopher Lee is my favorite all time Dracula. He was a monster, plain and simple, while in this one he is a charmer with a darkness about him. I read where Langella's eyes have a hard time focusing and in scenes I saw them moving, but I did not know of this condition so I just assumed he was doing it purposely as it actually made his stare more unsettling. Laurence Olivier plays Van Helsing and he is rather good, like Cushing best, but I like how he was presented here. He was a father who had lost his daughter and he wanted his revenge. They did a much better job making he and Dracula enemies than they did in the 92 version. However, I thought Donald Pleasence as Doctor Jack Seward was a more interesting character than Van Helsing. a bit of an odd man who was very helpful as he saved Van Helsing and Johnathon Harker! I read where he turned down the role of Van Helsing because he felt it was too close to Dr. Loomis, but the character he did choose, ran the mental institution. Johnathon Harker was okay, they usually miscast the character and here is no exception. I did not think he did as bad as others do, but he was a bit weak. The two girls were okay too, neither really exploding on screen though.

So, all in all, a rather good retelling of the Dracula story. Granted, it does deviate from the book and while I wish they had just gone all out and made Dracula the monster he is, I still found this portrayal interesting. The movie ends on an ambiguous note that could have lead to a sequel which never occurred, which is probably for the best as it is not too long after this film that Langella kind of aged quickly. Who knows? Perhaps he was Dracula and the sun he was exposed to at the end aged him quickly or something. Seriously, I had never seen Langella look this young on screen and I had seen him in movies from the 80's! All in all a rather good Dracula film that you can really sink your teeth into...and yes, I went there!
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The Romantic Dracula
KatharineFanatic17 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"I wanted to restore the character as a pure, romantic, dignified and elegant man, one who really does want to find one special woman. And as most women want to find one special man... if you're lucky enough ever to have that in your life, you realize how much better it is than anything else." – Frank Langella

That, essentially, is the crux of this adaptation of Dracula. No, it is not entirely accurate to the book. It is not even somewhat accurate to the book. It barely resembles the book except in the names of the characters (and even those have been changed around) and the fact that the Count is in fact a vampire. And don't get me wrong, I love the book for its subtleties and for providing a fascinating glimpse into a Victorian mindset through its symbolism, but only one Dracula movie stands out for me, and this is it.

It is a shame in some regards that the film has become dated, that it was moved into the Edwardian era instead of remaining Victorian, and did not land a bigger budget, because frankly, without some of the cheesy special effects and 70's style of film making, it would improve greatly. I am well aware of its faults, even known to make intentional fun at them, but it's true… I simply love it.

Prior to taking on this role, Langella was performing the same character on stage on Broadway and creating a sensation. Women simply loved him. I actually knew a woman who used to work in the theater and she said she has never seen such a reaction in a female audience before or since those performances. Langella had such tremendous stage presence that most of the women in the audience were madly in love with him before the end of the first act. The movie gives us a taste of this, because Langella embodies something very few men possess –- natural sensuality. It's never forced, it's never aggressive, it's never overbearing or overtly sexual; it's demure eroticism underneath a cravat. He is one of the most elegant men I have ever seen, the kind where you are consciously aware of him in a room even if he is not the central focus of the camera. It is Langella that makes the film –- without him, for all intensive purposes it would be rubbish, a forgettable foray into the lackluster productions that marked the latter half of the 1970's.

Langella approached the project differently from any actor before or since –- he wanted to make the Count a lonely individual who arrives in England suspecting nothing will change, that he will remain indifferent and amused by mere mortals, and instead is powerfully drawn to a woman. It is love that ensnares him and makes him careless, while at the same time Lucy discovers an intensity, a gentlemanly quality, a charm in him that is absent from her aggressive suitor. There's no sensitivity in Jonathan, no lingering caresses, which is not the case with Dracula. The Count makes it all about her, and that makes all the difference.

It's an unusual film in certain regards since it does make the audience naturally side with him, but also does not shy away from enforcing the view that Dracula is indeed evil. He is responsible for death and insanity. He does represent sin and temptation, but at the same time when his end comes about, we are sad. We are angry. We do not want to see him suffer like that. Not that beautiful, charming, mild-mannered Count who, well, just has this tiny flaw of being a vampire. (It's forgivable... isn't it?)

What I like about this film is that it intentionally appeals to women by respecting their boundaries. It's tasteful. There is a little bit of gore, true, but the overall approach is unique and tinged with romanticism. Dracula never reveals fangs. He never has blood on his mouth. The "love scene" is not explicit and contains nothing to detract from its emotional connection. I saw it for the first time at age seventeen and have seen it hundreds of times in the years since. It is not an award-winning film but it doesn't have to be… it makes me delightfully happy and that's all that matters.
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Saw the Broadway Production/Movie Doesn't Disappoint
Hitchcoc26 December 2016
I read Bram Stoker's book when I was in sixth grade (that would be around 1959). I had seen most of the Dracula movies that existed at the time on television. I had watch the 1931 effort at least ten times. So after all the Hammer films and a host of others, I became somewhat of a connoisseur. One problem for me (as with Conan-Doyle's, "Hound of the Baskervilles") is that the book's plot, which was perfectly OK, was messed around with. I've never seen "Dracula" or "The Hound" done with integrity on the screen. Why change names? Why expand the plot to include peripheral characters? While Frank Langella's performance is wonderful, they had to do it again. They had to mess with the women. They did away with all kinds of elements. I know it's based on a state play (I actually saw the Broadway production), but why is there a need to mess with success. Of course, since I loved many of the others, I forgive them for this. I'm hoping that before I'm gone, someone will take on the task of a reasonable adaptation of Stoker's book. The Gary Oldman had the title but once again didn't follow through.
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"Good Version Of Vampire Classic!"
gwnightscream30 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, Kate Nelligan, Trevor Eve, Jan Francis and Donald Pleasence star in this 1979 horror film based on Bram Stoker's novel. This begins on a dark and stormy night with a ship arriving in London. Soon, we meet Count Dracula (Langella) who seduces young woman, Mina Van Helsing (Francis). He gets to know his new neighbors, Jack Seward (Pleasence), a doctor who runs an asylum, his daughter, Lucy (Nelligan), Lucy's beau, Jonathan Harker (Eve) and scientist, Abraham Van Helsing (Olivier). Mina becomes a vampire and soon, Dracula sets his sights on Lucy to make her his bride. Jack, Abraham and Jonathan eventually learn what Dracula is and attempt to destroy him. This is a good version, Langella is great as the vampire fiend, the rest of the cast is great as well and John Williams' score is excellent as usual. I recommend this.
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I'm in LOVE!
jlpenn3222 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I have ALWAYS had a thing for vampires. I have seen many movies over the years "trying" to portray what I imagined Dracula should be like...this film got it right! I was reluctant to watch it at first because it is an older movie, and I try to keep up with all the newer horror movie releases. But, this film taught me a lesson...sometimes older IS better! The music really added to scenes as well, rising and falling during climatic scenes perfectly. I was even a little startled at times, and amazingly there wasn't any blood, guts, gore. Very classy movie. My favorite part though is when Dracula comes to "take" Lucy. Just how I have imagined Dracula coming to me...The windows open, the curtains blow in, and there in all his manly glory, surrounded by fog, is Dracula. sigh....I have to say too, one of THE most passionate and romantic sex scenes I have EVER seen in vampire movie. I'm so sorry Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell, and Gerard Butler, I have a new favorite vampire... Frank Langella!
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Purists might scoff, though the film promises to be a sumptuous spread...and on that it delivers!
moonspinner5524 April 2011
An imposing Count draws a beautiful young woman into his web; she's unaware this castle-dwelling Casanova is really a vampire who feeds on human blood. Based more on the Hamilton Deane-John L. Balderston play (specifically the 1970s Broadway revival starring Frank Langella) rather than Bram Stoker's novel or Tod Browning's 1931 film, this gorgeously-designed Gothic is imminently watchable if not overtly exciting. Langella smolders appropriately as Dracula, but he's perhaps too glossy and blown-dry (and this appears entirely intentional). Laurence Olivier's Van Helsing is also a disappointment (and the professor is treated unceremoniously by the finale), though Kate Nelligan is luminous (and yet fierce) as Lucy, with Donald Pleasence perfect as her father. The film's design and art direction (in bloodless grays and sudden fiery reds) are captured vividly by cinematographer Gilbert Taylor, and John Badham directs dryly, without too much camp. It isn't scary, though a mild chill runs through it, and the tastefulness is surprising coming from a horror film released in 1979. **1/2 from ****
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