Count Dracula (1970 film): Wikis


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Count Dracula
Directed by Jesus Franco
Produced by Harry Alan Towers
Arturo Marcos
Written by Jesus Franco
Harry Alan Towers
Bram Stoker
Starring Christopher Lee
Klaus Kinski
Maria Rohm
Herbert Lom
Fred Williams
Soledad Miranda
Jack Taylor
Paul Müller
Music by Bruno Nicolai
Release date(s) 1970
Running time 98 min / UK:97 min. / Sweden:91 min.
Country West Germany & Italy & Spain & Liechtenstein
Language English

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.[1] 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 in Spain as El Conde Drácula.



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."[2] 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."[3] 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."[4]

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."[5] 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."[6] 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."[7]

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.[2] 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.[3]


External links

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