Count Dracula (DVD)
This fan favorite three-part series from the BBC is now available on DVD for the first time! Louis Jourdan stars as the deliciously blood-thirsty Count Dracula in this version of Bram Stoker's horror classic. Keeping close to the original novel, the series begins with Jonathan Harker visiting the Count in Transylvania to help him with preparations to move to England. It is in the Count's castle that Jonathan becomes a prisoner, and discovers Dracula's true nature. Many scenes shot on location -- such as the Gothic graveyard of London's Highgate Cemetery -- add extra atmosphere to an already powerful production.
Devotees of vampire cinema have long esteemed this heretofore hard-to-see adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, made for BBC-TV in 1977. Count Dracula
puts Louis Jourdan in the fangs and cape, in a version subtitled--and played as--a Gothic romance. This is one of those 1970s TV productions that use film for exteriors and video for the interiors, a tactic that increases the general sense of cheapness about the whole thing (although the location stuff is good, including scenes on the cliffs of Whitby, the port town where Dracula comes to visit England). With 150 minutes to play with, the production has more of Stoker than many film versions include, although there's still some shuffling of the original. It's all a bit slow, and surprisingly cheesy at times, even with the occasional startling image: Dracula scooting bat-like down the side of his castle, or the vampire brides preparing to devour a baby (a scene cut from some subsequent showings of the series, but restored here). Frank Finlay makes a focused Van Helsing--a minimum of camping, thankfully--and Susan Penhaligon and Judi Bowker are respectively hot and cold as Lucy and Mina. Jourdan is effective, although he's off screen a lot and really gets his good bites in toward the end. You'll need some patience, but Jourdan drinks it dry. --Robert Horton