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Dracula
Graf Dracula

USA 1974
directed by Dan Curtis
starring Jack Palance, Nigel Davenport, Simon Ward, Fiona Lewis, Penelope Horner, Murray Brown, Pamela Brown
screenplay by Richard Matheson, based on the novel by Bram Stoker

Dracula, Van Helsing

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When real estate agent Jonathan Harker (Murray Brown) comes to Transylvania to fix a deal with Count Dracula (Jack Palance), little does he know that that man is a vampire who is interested in moving to London only because he wants to be near Lucy Wastenra (Fiona Lewis), an acquaintance of Jonathan's who Dracula thinks to be the reincarnation of his long lost love. So soon the vampire is off to England, while Jonathan is left behind as a snack for Dracula's vampire brides. Back in England, Lucy is soon falling sick, suffering from somnabulism & blood-loss '(& you know hat that means), & her fiancé Arthur Holmwood (Simon Ward) soon consults an expert, doctor Van Helsing (Nigel Davenport), whose theories of Lucy being attacked by a vampire seem just too outrageous to be true, but nevertheless, his advice of fighting the illness with garlic & cruzifixes & standing constant guard over her sleep seems to work. But Dracula is not a creature to be kept from a lady that easily & he soon attacks the house witht he help of a wolf he stole from the local zoo, & kidnaps & kills Lucy. But of course, her being bitten by a vampire, she won't stay dead & soon after her funeral comes back to bite Arthur in the neck, who is saved by Van Helsing in the nick of time. Finally, Arthur agrees with the doctor's outrageous theories & the 2 of them are off to the family crypt to stake Lucy. Then the 2 men decide to track down Dracula via the shipping records of his coffins, while Dracula, furious over the death of his loved Lucy, decides to go after Lucy's mother (Pamela Brown) & best friend Mina (Penelope Horner), who also happens to be Jonathan Harker's fianée. In the nick of time Arthur & Van Helsing manage to return to the 2 women & keep Dracula from killing them, but he has already forced Mina to drink his blood & enslave her, before fleeing the country. But our 2 heroes use Mina's state to their advatnage, acutally foreseeing Dracula's moves through her & arriving in his Transylvanian castle before him. After they kill off Jonathan, who has turned into a vampire of course, the 2 expose Dracula to the sun, robbing him of his supernatural powers, before staking him.

 

Having Jack Palance play the famous vampire might seen like an odd choice, but he acutally handles the role quite well with an air of otherworldly dignity. What does somewhat ruin the movie though is that it in some scenes is sticking to the letters of the book it is based on way too much while leaving out other large portions of it altogether, thus deriving many scenes that sprang from the novel of any necessity, instead only slowing down the proceedings & ruining any suspense. Also, in the book it might have worked to obscure the fact that Dracula is indeed a vampire from the reader for a while, but by the seventies the basic plot of the novel has entered common knowledge so it seems rather absurd to pretend Dracula would be anything but a vampire for the first 25 minutes. A slow moving, uninspired, even stagey direction with no sense for horror or suspense at all, & incedibly stilted, soulless dialogues do not help the film, either.

Director Dan Curtis actually was the man who, with his successful & long running (1966 - 1971) series Dark Shadows brought horror & vampirism to American daytime television, & by the late 60's/early 70's he saw fit to make some classic horror novels into tv-movies (besides Dracula also The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde (1968 - also with Palance) & Frankenstein (1973)  - these 2 only produced by Curtis).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
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