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Dracula (1979) - DVD - Universal Studios Print E-mail
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Written by Jay Creepy   
Friday, 29 August 2014
Severed Cinema DVD Reviews

Dracula (1979) DVD Cover Art from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema
BUY DRACULA DVD

AKA: Dracula – Eine Love Story, Komis Drakoulas: Fygi ap' ta Karpathia, Drakula, Dracula 79

Directed by:
John Badham
Written by:
W. D. Richter
Produced by:
Walter Mirisch, Marvin Mirisch
Cinematography by:
Gilbert Taylor
Editing by:
John Bloom
Music by:
John Williams, Herbert Spencer
Special Effects by:
Roy Arbogast, Eric Allwright, Jane Royle, Peter Robb-King
Cast:
Frank Langella, Donald Pleasence, Laurence Olivier, Kate Nelligan, Trevor Eve, Jan Francis
Year:
1979
Country:
USA/ UK
Language:
English
Color:
Color
Runtime:
1h 50min

Distributor: Universal Studios

There's something about vampires from the 70's that look and act so different from every other decade. There's Yorga, Mr. Barlow, Blacula, the one Kolchak faced, Khorda, etcetera, but then there's Dracula. Aside from the excellent turn by Jack Palance, Frank Langella created this wonderful image of the Count. This is my favourite Dracula movie above every other for many reasons, including a scene that occurs which scared the crap out of me when I was about ten years old. Where else can you find Laurence Olivier hamming up insanely alongside a twitching wide eyed Donald Pleasence? Not only that, there's gore, arty camera work, a giant musical score by John Williams (various Star Wars things, Superman III) and a cameo by the 7th Doctor Who, Sylvester Mccoy.

Indeed, Dracula has romance in its veins and a serious aim at being a work of art. However, it's a fun thrill ride and Langella carries the proceedings proudly.

We open with the famous ship of the tale, Demeter, caught in a storm whilst the crew heave a crate upwards onto the deck. The captain secures himself to the wheel whilst something growls from within the dirt filled crate. Suddenly a wolf leaps forth and tears into the crew.

On dry land, Donald Pleasence hurries around an asylum where the inmates are all in a panic due to the storm. Dr. Seward is Lucy's father and she works the wards with him, her best friend is quite sickly. From her room, Mina sees the ship out of control in the lashing waves. She runs out in the rain as it shatters against the rocks. From within the wreckage a wolf appears. She follows it to a cave where she finds a strange man laid down in a fur coat -- ok, I don't see the sense either, but the music makes it a very magical moment as their hands meet.

Tell them women t' get outa the way if they're not 'elpin,” The next morning comes and we've got a lot of rugged British accents around as people tidy the ship wreck. “Now our son, grab 'old of this.

A solicitor, Jonathan Harker, drives up in his new fancy car much to the curious eyes of the folks. He checks the damage but his main concern is a passenger and his luggage, called Count Dracula who his company has been dealing with regarding properties.

Meanwhile, a scruffy bearded bugger, Renfield, pulls Dracula's crate to the Count’s newly purchased castle unaware of the contents. Dracula wakes up hungry it seems because as Renfield heads off, Dracula transforms into a bat and attacks in a quite unexpected and random scene.

Count Dracula joins Dr. Seward, his daughter, Harker and Mini (who is extremely pale), for dinner. Dracula thanks Harker for arranging his new home. Frank Langella is an imposing man with huge eyes that pierce into everyone. They all discuss the Dementer's final log entry which simply states: “Nosferatu.” He debates the meaning when suddenly a servant with a full on “Ee by gum” accent cuts his finger open. Dracula's eyes flash like an animals.

I love to be frightened,” says Lucy. “Do you?” asks Dracula. His eyes remain on Lucy as she and Harker dance. He explains his reasons for arriving in England. As he talks to Mina, and with a slight movement of his hand, causes Mina to begin having a fainting episode of. Dracula succeeds hypnotising her to his will by suggestion. Harker makes obvious his dislike of the man, even more so when Lucy insists a dance with the count. It's all fine except that Trevor Eve, who plays Harker, is so bland that like or dislike is the same expression. How did this man go on decades later to head the long running TV drama Waking The Dead? Certainly not by showing this dire performance at the interview surely.

That night Dracula sees the couple kissing so he climbs down the building, in sinister slow motion, to Mina's room. She opens her blouse for him and the music blasts out.

Renfield wakes up, “Bloody 'ell that hurts.” he holds his back and notices a cockroach, then runs into his new Master. “I can reward you with a long and fruitful life, but I must have your loyalty.” he stares deep into Renfield's eyes.

By morning, Mina dies, unable to breath. Even a few slaps to the face from Dr. Seward doesn't help either. He finds two small holes in her neck, then contacts her father, Dr. Van Helsing. Lucy blames herself due to being with Harker instead of with Mina.

Soon afterwards, Harker is jumped by Renfield who wants help. Instead he is locked up in the asylum which he doesn't seem to mind, finding he has a taste for roaches now. After Mina's funeral, Van Helsing arrives by train (me and my Horror Soulmate were amused to hear that where the train was heading to afterwards included our home town; “Kingston Upon Hull.”

Meanwhile, Lucy accepts dinner with Dracula and the two grow closer as they talk. At one point they stand on his balcony listening to wolves. Aha yes, the famous line is spoken albeit altered ever so slightly.

Mina returns to the asylum and kills a baby, running into the night. Van Helsing meets Dracula by the graveyard and his suspicions are aroused. That night he, Seward and Sylvester McCoy fool about at Lucy's grave testing things, and the Count arrives to take the final bite from Lucy claiming her. The bite itself is marked by very cinematic special effects which reminded me of the final scenes from Disney's The Black Hole and for some reason Altered States as well. It is very powerful at first but grows rather tiresome quickly.

Van Helsing discovers upon digging up Mina's grave that she has smashed her way through into some disused mines under the town. He ventures through the hole and confronts his daughter. The makeup on Mina is Salem's Lot scary. It's simple but striking. In fact this was the scene that scared me as a kid and I can see why.

Afterwards finding Lucy drained of blood and requiring a transfusion, they go to war with Dracula who is going to try and escape with Lucy and return to his home country.

Laurence is good as Van Helsing but it's Frank Langella and Donald Pleasence who are the true stars and they light up this film. The sets are well constructed and creepy, so the film as a gothic play is a work of art. As I stated the music is dramatic and it all builds up to an unexpected finale that is different to the book and most films.

Garlic, stakes, removal of hearts, reflections -- most of the vampire laws are used. “I dislike mirrors, they are the playthings of man's vanity,” states Langella, having just smashed a mirror in front of Van Helsing. The ending is very exciting and has to be applauded, but it's not Cushing vs. Lee level of cool.

There's beauty, there's thrills, there's some blood dashing about here and there. This Dracula hasn't dated too much in the hands of John Badham, who also helmed Saturday Night Fever, Short Circuit, Drop Zone and many more. However, the bat is simply awful as is Jonathan Harker. I think I trashed him enough beforehand. Based on a play, Dracula has totally converted to the big screen and is highly recommended.

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

Dracula (1979) DVD Screenshot from Universal Studios on Severed Cinema

 RATING:
 VIDEO: 1 
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 AUDIO: 1 
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 DVD: 1 
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 MOVIE: 1 
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 DVD SPECS:
 Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
 Region: NTSC 1
 Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0


 SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
 - Commentary by John Badham
 - The Revamping of Dracula Documentary
 - Photo Gallery

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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