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Hrabe Drakula

Czechoslovakia 1971
produced by
Ceskoslovenská Televize
directed by Anna Procházková
starring Ilja Racek, Jan Schánilec, Klára Jerneková, Jirí Zahajský, Hana Maciuchová, Ota Sklencka, Václav Mares, Olga Jirouskova, Marie Joanovicová, Vera Kresadlová, Bozena Böhmová, Marie Brozová, Frantisek Holar, Bohumil Seda, Nora Krcmárová
screenplay by Oldrich Zelezný, Anna Procházková, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, music by Milos Holecek

Dracula, Van Helsing

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jonathan Harker (Jan Schálinec) travels to Transylvania to sell a London property to a certain Count Dracula (Ilja Racek) ... and is somehow made the count's prisoner, learns that the cound it a vampire, and only escapes by jumping out of a window to his almost-certain death ... but he survives, and miraculously makes it to the next town, alive but amnesiac.

Back in London, one of Harker's friends, Lucy (Hana Maciushová), is suffering from severe bloodloss - and not even a blood transfusion can save her from dying ... but enter professor Van Helsing (Ota Sklencka), who claims Lucy has not died but has been turned into a vampire, and Van Helsing, Harker and friends visit her grave, unearth her coffin and find it empty. And when Lucy returns, they stake and behead her. The shock brings Harker's memory back, and he tells about Dracula the vampire, and how he has come to London, so the friends set out to hunt him down ... as he has set out to make Harker's wife Mina (Klára Jerneková) his slave by letting her drink his blood. Eventually though, our heroes have destroyed all of Dracula's coffins but one, which he needs to flee back to Transylvania.

Our heroes now use Mina as a psychic link to Dracula to follow him to his castle, and despite all of Dracula's trickery, he's ultimately destroyed and Harker and Mina have a happy ending.

 

Even if it simplifies the proceedings to cram them into a mere 75 minutes, Hrabe Drakula remains remarkably close to Bram Stoker's source novel - which is not only a good thing, as the characters in Stoker's novel are anything but well-defined, and this made-for-TV movie does little to improve on that. Also the film does rather poorly in the atmosphere and suspense department, the direction is somewhat on the static side, and the key roles (Dracula and Van Helsing) fail to transmit much charisma. The result is a somewhat lifeless literature adaptation which book-bound Stoker-fans will probably enjoy because of it's closeness to the novel - for everyone else though it's a rather forgettable piece of curiosity.

 

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