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DVD cover
Directed by Dan Curtis
Produced by Dan Curtis
Written by Richard Matheson
Starring Jack Palance
Simon Ward
Nigel Davenport
Pamela Brown
Fiona Lewis
Penelope Horner
Music by Robert Cobert
Release date(s) 1973
Running time 100 min.
Country UK
Language English

Dracula is a 1973 television adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula written by Richard Matheson and directed by Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis.


Plot summary

"Bistritz, Hungary May 1897".

Natives in Transylvania seem afraid when they learn solicitor Jonathan Harker is going to Castle Dracula.

Jonathan shows up, and finds the Count abrupt and impatient to get things done. He reacts very strongly to a photograph of Harker's fiancee Mina and her best friend Lucy. After rescuing Harker from the Brides, he forces Harker to write a letter saying that he will be staying in Transylvania for a month. Harker climbs down the castle wall and finds Dracula's coffin, but is attacked and knocked out by one of Dracula's gypsy servants before he can stake Dracula. After Dracula leaves the Castle, the Brides attack Harker...

The Demeter runs aground carrying only Dracula and the dead captain lashed to the wheel.

Soon after, Lucy begins to fall ill. Her fiancee, Arthur Holmwood, is perplexed and calls in Dr. Van Helsing. The doctor begins to recognize what might be happening, especially after Lucy walks out of her home at Hillingham and is found, drained, under a tree the next morning. Dracula, meanwhile, has flashbacks about a time when he was alive, when his wife (who is also the dead image of Lucy) lay dead in her bed and men had to restrain Dracula in his grief and rage.

Lucy's mother is in the room with Mina when Dracula comes calling the last time, a wolf shattering the window. Lucy soon rises from the dead, and comes to the window of Arthur's home, begging to be let in. Arthur does so, delighted and amazed that she's alive. This very nearly gets him bitten, but Van Helsing interrupts with a cross. They go to Lucy's grave and drive a wooden stake into her heart. When Dracula comes to the tomb later and beckons to her, he goes berserk upon finding that she's truly dead.

Mina tells Van Helsing about the news story about the Demeter and the boxes of earth, and about Jonathan going to meet Dracula to sell him a house. From these clues, Van Helsing and Holmwood go about finding all but one of Dracula's "boxes of earth" (containing his native soil, in which a vampire must rest). But back at the hotel, the vampire hunters discover Dracula is there, out for revenge. He has bitten Mina, and before their eyes forces her to drink blood from a self-inflicted gash in his chest. All that they love, all that is theirs, he will take.

The tracking of Dracula back to his home commences with Van Helsing hypnotizing Mina. Via the bond of blood, she sees through Dracula's eyes and discovers where he is headed.

At the Castle, Van Helsing and Holmwood find and stake the Brides. Jonathan—now a vampire—attacks Arthur and Van Helsing, but in the struggle is knocked by Arthur into a pit of wooden spikes. Staked.

The final confrontation with Dracula takes place in what looks like a grand ballroom. The crosses wielded by the two men are something Dracula doesn't seem to want to look upon. Dracula gets the better of them, ridding them of their crosses. But one of them manages to pull down curtains from the windows, so sunlight pours in. Dracula is weakened, finally going dormant long enough for Van Helsing to pierce his heart with a long spear.

They leave him there. Before the portrait of a living warrior Dracula, with Lucy's lookalike in the background, a text scrolls across the screen, about a warlord lived in the area of Hungary known as Transylvania, and how it was said he had found a way to conquer death—a legend no one has ever disproven.


Deviations from the novel

  • Dracula does not "youthen".
  • Jonathan Harker is turned into a vampire. (The same fate befell this character in the 1958 version of Dracula.)
  • The characters of Quincey Morris, Dr. John Seward and Renfield are cut altogether.
  • Van Helsing seems to be English rather than Dutch.
  • Dracula believes Lucy to be the re-incarnation (or at least the physical twin) of his lost love. He is enraged when she is killed.
  • Upon rising, the undead Lucy immediately seeks out Arthur.
  • Dracula is killed by Van Helsing with a lance. Mina does not accompany Van Helsing and Holmwood to Transylvania. There is no "chase" to the castle.

Production notes

  • Several plot elements of this adaptation were also present in the storyline about Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows, specifically that Lucy was Dracula's lost love reborn. A similar idea was used in Bram Stoker's Dracula, but then it was Mina who became the reincarnation.
  • The initial broadcast in October, 1973 was pre-empted for an address by Richard Nixon. Instead it was broadcast in February, 1974.
  • Jack Palance also worked with Curtis in a television production of The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, which co-starred Denholm Elliott who also played Dracula in the BBC production of Dracula (1968).
  • The production re-used music from the Dark Shadows series as well.
  • Fiona Lewis also played a vampire victim in The Fearless Vampire Killers
  • Jack Palance admitted to being glad once the film was completed. A method actor, he felt that he was "becoming" Dracula more than he wanted.
  • According to the featurette on the DVD, Jack Palance had been offered the role of Dracula several more times after his first performance, but he turned them all down.

External links



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