The Dracula legend has been around for over a century and has been told and retold many, many times. As such, every filmmaker who puts the story onscreen puts his or her own spin on it. Because of this, the actual story has become distorted and therefore, unless you’ve read the book, you don’t know how true to the source material a film actually is.
From what I’ve read, Jess Franco’s take on Dracula is fairly accurate, although he took liberties here and there. But one thing is for certain: his decision to cast Christopher Lee as the titular character was an excellent choice. While COUNT DRACULA as a film itself is good, Lee’s portrayal of the vampire is uncanny and unsettling, a good enough reason alone to see what this movie has to offer.
If you are not familiar with COUNT DRACULA, here us the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films:
Completely Uncut & Re-Mastered In HD For The First Time Ever
In 1970, cult director Jess Franco and screen legend Christopher Lee collaborated on what they promised would be the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel ever filmed. From its remarkable performances – including Lee as the Count, Herbert Lom (MARK OF THE DEVIL) as Van Helsing, Soledad Miranda (VAMPYROS LESBOS) as Lucy, Maria Rohm (VENUS IN FURS) as Mina, and authentic madman Klaus Kinski as Renfield – to its lush locations and atmosphere of sinister sensuality, it remains perhaps the most spellbinding version of Dracula in movie history. Fred Williams (SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY) and Paul Muller (NIGHTMARE CASTLE) co-star in this “thrilling” (Twins Of Evil) and “fascinating” (Arrow In The Head) horror classic, now fully restored, loaded with all-new Bonus Features, and re-mastered in high-definition for the first time ever.
Now remember: this film was shot in 1970, therefore it is obviously dated. But Severin’s HD restoration looks amazing, and it gives the film a new look and feel.
As mentioned, the acting in COUNT DRACULA is excellent, with Lee solidifying his status as a horror icon with his portrayal of the Count. But following him up is Klaus Kinski as Renfield. Kinski appears truly mad in this role, and I had no trouble believing his character to be real. Also in the supporting cast is the incomparable Soledad Miranda, who Franco collaborated with several times prior to her death, and Herbert Lom as Van Helsing.
The story itself is nothing really new (as in, we have seen it before), but Franco does a great job of building a menacing atmosphere around the Count. There’s plenty of tension involved, and the ultimate climax of the story is satisfying and fitting.
COUNT DRACULA is a big win from yesteryear, and fans of classic horror will want to grab this one soon. I enjoyed this take on the legend, and I suggest you give it a shot. In addition to the restoration, the folks at Severin offer some nice Special Features on the Blu-ray that include:
* Audio Commentary with David Del Valle and Actress Maria Rohm
* Beloved Count – An Interview with Director Jess Franco
* A Conversation with Jack Taylor
* Handsome Harker – An Interview with Actor Fred Williams
* Christopher Lee Reads Bram Stoker’s Dracula
* Stake Holders – An Appreciation of Jess Franco’s COUNT DRACULA by French Director Christophe Gans
* German Trailer
* BONUS DISC: Cuadecuc Vampir- Pere Portabella’s Expressionistic Behind-The-Scenes Feature