Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a shame, but I like this movie anyway., January 11, 2001
This review is from: Dracula (DVD)
I bought this DVD, because I love horror films, and it was priced right at the time; I think I found one of the only remaining copies out there at SunCoast, now that Image has lost it's liscense to produce this movie. It was actually clearence-priced. As far as DVDs go, this one is a poor production. At first, I thought it had somehow become a black and white film since I first saw it on the big screen in the 80s, but then I fiddled with the color and contrast till I finally found some color and contrast. I've never seen this on any of the hundred or so DVDs I've got, but for some reason it begins playing in black and white and you HAVE to adjust it for color.

Hmm. Extras. There are none. I kept hitting the menu button, trying to find out how in hell the movie became black and white in past twenty years. Nothing but a scene access menue.

Sound. Good. Though I hear this version is missing some of the original music score because of legal complications. Too bad.

Now the movie. It really is the stage-play version, and not Bram Stoker's novel, that is brought to the screen. So, as always, it suffers from artsy interpretations that somehow confuse love with sex, and not very good sex if you happen to be the victim. I think Langella's performance was good. And I've always thought Kate Nelligan was a very beautiful actress. Donald Pleasence, one of my all-time favorite horror character actors, was nearly wasted here, because he's always had a strong presence that just wasn't allowed to come out here. Olivier is stout, and always gives a good performance, as he did here. But I felt his character needed more fleshing out. Still, I wanted to cry with him, after he had to stake his vampiric, half-decayed daughter through the heart; this scene better than all the others having to do with vampirism in the film, helps to illustrate the evil that is Dracula.

The ending. Too bad. I liked the kill scene, though it still doesn't top the one in Hammer's Horror of Dracula. But then they went and blew it by having an ambivelent moment at the very end, when Lucy looks up at the fluttering remains of Dracula, now "kiting" away from his scene of destruction, and we get a mysterious, dreamy smile, as if to say, hey, he'll be back, and it's okay if he wants to suck my blood and turn me into a fiend that kills babies and damns them to hell, sure, why not.

Now, why I still like the film. Badham did, I thought, a good job of bringing to the eighties a Hammer-style period piece. There's plenty of atmosphere here, and a wonderfully creepy scene in the graveyard, when Van Helsing has to crawl under his daughter's coffin to gain access to her secret tunnels, an abandoned mine that runs all through the underside of the town. I loved the castle, and I thought the scenes along the ocean front, where people milled about looking at the wreckage of the ship that brought Dracula to thier town, were beautiful.

I remember now, after watching the DVD, that I walked out of the theater back in the 80s feeling slighted, but still having enjoyed the film. I think Badham is a good director, I just think he relied too much on the stage-play version of this story, and should've gone back to the source, the novel. After all, the best movies are still the ones that follow our favorite books the closest.

Update: This movie has been re-released on DVD. It's reasonably priced, and if you are a Dracula Completest, as I sometimes feel I am, you'll want to get this newer release. Nice anamorphic widescreen transfer. Still the same picture, but a much nicer transfer.
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