Dracula (1979)

R   |    |  Horror, Romance


Dracula (1979) Poster

In 1913, the charming, seductive and sinister vampire Count Dracula travels to England in search of an immortal bride.


6.5/10
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  • "Dracula" Frank Langella 1979 Universal
  • Frank Langella and Kate Nelligan in Dracula (1979)
  • Tony Haygarth in Dracula (1979)
  • Frank Langella and Kate Nelligan in Dracula (1979)
  • Dracula (1979)
  • Dracula (1979)

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14 September 2005 | ThomasHayden
8
| Underrated, classy take on the vampire legend
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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