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El Conde Drácula / Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht / Il Conte Dracula

Count Dracula
Bram Stoker's Count Dracula / The Nights of Dracula / Les Nuits de Dracula / Dracula - Seine Küsse sind todlich / Dracula 71

Spain/West Germany/Italy/Liechtenstein 1970
produced by
Filmar Compagnia Cinematografica, Fénix Cooperativa Cinematográfica, Korona Film
directed by Jess Franco
starring Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski, Soledad Miranda, Maria Rohm, Fred Williams, Paul Muller, Jack Taylor, Jesús Puente, José Martínez Blanco, Jess Franco, Moisés Augusto Rocha, Emma Cohen, Jeannine Mestre, Colette Giacobine
screenplay by Erik Krohenke, Augusto Finocchi, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, music by Bruno Nicolai, edited by Bruno Mattei

Dracula, Dracula (Christopher Lee), Van Helsing

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jonathan Harker (Fred Williams), a young and hopeful lawyer's assistant) travels to Transylvania to sell a mansion near London to a wealthy client of the company he's working at, Count Dracula (Christopher Lee). Dracula welcomes him as an esteemed guest who is to teach him in British culture, but soon Harker notices he's nothing but Dracula's prisoner, and Dracula's three vampire brides are also after him. Especially one Dracula leaves for England, Harker's situation becomes so desperate that he throws himself out of a window to either escape or die trying ... and he's rather lucky it wasn't the latter, but eventually he wakes up in Van Helsing's (Herbert Lom) insane asylum back in the old UK, where he's treated for his shock. Van Helsing for whatever reason believes Harker's wild stories about vampires ...

Oh, and what nobody knows yet, Dracula has moved into the long abandoned mansion next to the asylum ...

Anyways, Harker's fiancée Mina (Maria Rohm) comes to visit him in the asylum together with her best friend Lucy (Soledad Miranda), and it seems from day one at the place, Lucy turns more and more bloodless ... which shouldn't surprise nobody, as Dracula comes for nightly visits. Van Helsing has sent for Lucy's fiancé Quincy Morris (Jack Taylor), but even he can't defend Lucy from Dracula, and thus he dies. Her death though bands together Morris, Harker, and Van Helsing's favourite among his doctors, Seward (Paul Muller), and together, the three of them set out to find and destroy Dracula. Dracula sees himself above the trio, but he's annoyed enough to lure Mina away from them and drain her body of quite a bit of blood, just as a warning. Eventually though, he sees it better to return to his ancestral castle in Transylvania ...

One of Van Helsing's patients is Renfield (Klaus Kinski), who is somehow mentally linked to Dracula, mostly to freak everyone out, but when Dracula releases him from his grip and thus kills him, Renfield is still able to mutter one last word - the port where Dracula and his belongings will land. Fortunately, there's a more direct way to his castle, and Herker, Seward and Morris rush there at once - so quickly that they miss out on Dracula trying to make Mina his consort but being chased away by Van Helsing with a burning cross.

Harker, Seward and Morris arrive at Castle Dracula well before the count, and kill all of his vampire brides, before attacking the gang of gypsies escorting Dracula back home and finally exposing him to the sun, upon which he burns to death ...

 

El Conde Dracula is without a doubt one of the closest adaptations of the well-known and often-filmed source material ... and it's also one of the most under-appreciated ones, mainly because it was made on a rather low budget (but with rather high profile stars delivering very solid performances), and because for the longest time it was fashionable to shun director Jess Franco (for his trashy movie topics and quite despite his qualities as a filmmaker). Now El Conde Dracula is very interesting for taking its source material seriously for a change, but then again, just like in the novel, the film lacks really interesting characters (apart from Dracula and Renfield), is not free from narrative letdowns (again, just like the novel), and Jess Franco seems to feel seriously limited in his cinematic opportunities when following someone else's story that closely.
In all, not a bad movie, and certainly a whole lot better than Francis Ford Coppola's very over-blown Dracula, which also tried to remain very faithful to the source, but neither one of my favourite Dracula adaptations nor one of my favourite Jess Franco movies.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD