Thursday, January 7, 2010

Count Dracula (1970)



Count Dracula (German: Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht, At Night,
When Dracula Awakens) is a 1970 film, directed by Jesus Franco
and based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.



Although Count Dracula stars Christopher Lee in the title role,
it is not a Hammer production like his other Dracula films, but
was produced by Harry Alan Towers. Klaus Kinski, who would
play Dracula himself nine years later in Nosferatu the Vampyre,
is also featured in the film. Count Dracula was advertised as
the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel. Among
other details, it was the first film version of the novel in which
Dracula begins as an old man and becomes younger as he feeds
upon fresh blood.



Count Dracula was released also in Italy as Il conte Dracula and
Spain as El Conde Drácula.

>>Cast:

-Christopher Lee as Count Dracula
-Herbert Lom as Professor Van Helsing
-Klaus Kinski as Renfield
-Soledad Miranda as Lucy Westenra
-Maria Rohm as Mina Murray
-Fred Williams as Jonathan Harker
-Paul Mueller as Dr. Seward
-Jack Taylor as Quincey Morrisin




>>Plot summary:

The film starts with a shot of Count Dracula's castle and the
following text







Over fifty years ago, Bram Stoker wrote the greatest of all horror
stories. Now, for the first time, we retell exactly as he wrote, one
of the first — and still the best — tales of the macabre.



Jonathan Harker, a lawyer traveling from London to Transylvania to
secure property for Count Dracula, arrives at Bistritz to stay for the
night. There, he is warned by a concerned lady against continuing
his journey the following day. Harker believes that her concerns are
rooted in peasant superstition. He ignores her, but starts to feel
increasingly unnerved by the way everyone looks at him. Harker
sets off for the rest of his journey and arrives at the Borgo Pass
where he's picked up by the Count, though Harker doesn't realise
that it's him until much later.





Harker debarks at Castle Dracula, and the coach immediately rushes
off. Somewhat hesitantly, Harker approaches the main door,
whereupon a thin, tall, gaunt old man opens it. Harker asks, "Count
Dracula?" "I am Dracula, enter freely and of your own will," says the
man at the door (this dialog is taken straight from Bram Stoker's
book). Another detail from the book that is ignored by most film
adaptions is that Dracula first appears as an old man with a
moustache and clad entirely in black. Dracula takes Harker to his
bedchamber where Harker notices that Dracula casts no reflection.
In the following scene, Harker dines and tells the Count of London,
including more dialogue taken directly from the book.



Later, Harker goes to sleep in the bedroom assigned to him, then a
jump in continuity places him in a basement room where he is
seduced by three beautiful vampiresses. An enraged Dracula rushes
into the room and orders them to leave Harker alone. Dracula
explains, "This man belongs to me," then gives the vampiresses a
baby to feed on.



Harker realises he's now a prisoner and climbs out of his bedroom
window and finds Count Dracula and his three brides in coffins.
Harker runs out of a window screaming.



Quincey Morris, Lucy's fiancée, joins Drs. Seward and Van Helsing.
They give her a blood transfusion from Quincey but it doesn't seem
that Van Helsing makes any effort other than this to save Lucy.
Dracula gets younger while feeding off Lucy. Of growing interest
to the men, though, is one of the patients at the lunatic asylum,
R. M. Renfield, who is classed as a zoophagus. He eats flies and
insects in order to consume their life, believing that with each life
he consumes he gains that life. He seems to act violently whenever
Dracula is around.



Lucy eventually dies while her men look on. Lucy, thanks to Van
Helsing's sudden knowledge of vampires, is diagnosed as one.
Lucy feeds off the blood of a child, killing one and the men
destroy her in her tomb. Harker comes around and joins the
group who then ascertain that Count Dracula is their vampire.



Dracula then turns his attention to Mina and Van Helsing suddenly
has a stroke and remains in a wheel chair.



Count Dracula returns to Transylvania and is trailed by Harker and
Quincey who catch up with him, then set fire to his coffin. At the
same time, Dracula is approaching Mina many miles away (he is
appearing in two places at once — a feat that is not explained in
any way). As his coffin burns, Dracula turns back into an old man
and burns to death.

>>Deviations from the novel:

The film has very few changes from the novel, but there are some
notable ones. This list is not exhaustive, but intended to convey a
sense of the differences between the film and the novel:

Quincey Morris is combined with Arthur Holmwood's character.

Harker spends time in an asylum, run by Van Helsing, and is
treated by John Seward.

Lucy and Mina spend much of the film at the asylum looking after
Harker.

Van Helsing suffers a stroke which causes him to be in a
wheel-chair for one scene.

Dracula can appear in two places at once.



Mina and Van Helsing do not accompany Harker and Morris to
Transylvania.

Harker and Morris set fire to Dracula in his coffin (in the novel,
Dracula is killed by being sheared "through the throat" with a
Knife and stabbed in the heart with a Bowie knife).

>>Critical reaction:

Brett Cullum of DVD Verdict wrote, "For curious Dracula fans,
Jess Franco's Count Dracula is a neat find. It's a stellar cast
working under a low budget, and it comes off entertaining if
not a classic. It's a B-movie treatment at best, but ... Lee
comes off fiery and committed to making this Count one that
will be noticed." Brian Lindsey of Eccentric Cinema wrote,
"Upon weighing [the film's] pros and cons, Count Dracula
emerges a substantially flawed film. But I can still recommend
it to any fan of Lee, Franco, Miranda, and even of Stoker's
novel." George R. Reis of DVD Drive-In wrote, "Count Dracula
is flawed in many ways, but for fans of gothic horror, it’s still
irresistible ... Barcelona naturally allows for some truly
handsome scenery and an appropriate castle for Dracula to
dwell in, and the performances of the international cast are
above average."

Shawn McLoughlin of DVD In My Pants wrote, "The production
values aren’t stellar, and the imagery is stolen right out of the
Hammer films, but all the actors bring their stuff to the table
and it all works out together in the end." Dave Sindelar of
Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings wrote, "All in all, this
is an acceptable movie (both as a Franco movie and as an
adaptation of the novel), but not a particularly great one on
either level." Dracula scholar Leslie S. Klinger said "the picture
begins well, closely following the Stoker narrative account of
Harker's encounter with Dracula. The film rapidly proceeds
into banality, however, and except for the characterization of
Lee as an older Dracula and the brilliant Kinski, the film is
largely forgettable."


Jesus Franco.

>>DVD releases:

Count Dracula was released on DVD in 2007 by Dark Sky Films.
Special features include an interview with director Jess Franco,
a reading of Bram Stoker's Dracula novel by Christopher Lee,
and a text essay on the life of actress Soledad Miranda. The
DVD has come under criticism for omitting the scene in which
a distraught mother pleads for her baby's life at the door of
Dracula's castle.

Fonts: Wikipedia

3 comments:

cerebus660 said...

Hi Mandra! I've nominated you for an award at my blog: check it out...

Booksteve said...

Was so dissapointed when I finally saw this film but Lee looks so fantastic with the mustache in stills!

MANDRA said...

The Glass Walking-Stick:

Wow! Thank you so much my friend!! I feel flattered.

Booksteve:

Oh Yesss! Jess Franco's great in this film. And Lee and his mustache are awesome.