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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fangs for the memories!! My favourite Dracula so far!
I was around 9 or ten when I first encountered this version of Dracula. We had recorded it on the video. And, after my first watch, the video tape itself acquired an aura of pure, unadulterated, unspeakable evil! I can safely say that it has been one of the most influential movies of my life and, together with the first three Omen films and, even earlier, the...
Published on 28 Jan 2012 by chinhealer

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I have always enjoyed Badham's overblown Gothic romantic version of the Deane and ...
I have always enjoyed Badham's overblown Gothic romantic version of the Deane and Balderston stage play because it delivers mostly all it sets out to achieve, mood, music, romance, excitement, violence (but not the sex), and yet I have harboured a little negative ever since I saw it back in 1979... a small thing no less to my 54 year old sensibilities, but it illustrates...
Published 29 days ago by Don


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fangs for the memories!! My favourite Dracula so far!, 28 Jan 2012
By 
chinhealer "Chinhealer" (Staffs, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dracula (1979) (DVD)
I was around 9 or ten when I first encountered this version of Dracula. We had recorded it on the video. And, after my first watch, the video tape itself acquired an aura of pure, unadulterated, unspeakable evil! I can safely say that it has been one of the most influential movies of my life and, together with the first three Omen films and, even earlier, the astonishingly scary Into the Labyrinth children's TV programme, Bill Bixby's Incredible Hulk TV series and Space 1999, it engendered a knee-trembling fascination with horror in me.
Until I accidentally rewatched Dracula the other day on DVD after nearly three decades (I had no idea this was the version I was about to watch), my memories of it were generally vague, but a few, key aspects had been deeply imprinted on me. The dramatic, ship-in-a-storm arrival of the Count into Whitby in the opening scenes, the horrifying madness of the insect-and-arachnid-eating Renfield and, most terrifying of all, the transformation of the fragile Mina into a grotesque abomination of womanhood!
Once I realized that the film I was watching was the one that had so deeply affected me all those years ago, I steeled myself for the inevitable disappointment that watching it with adult eyes would bring. I was resigned to the fact that the effects would be laughable, that the acting would be hammy, that the pace and atmosphere would be lumbering and tedious... and, worst of all, that it would no longer scare the pants off a flea!
But I was amazed to discover that, not only did it stand up to adult scrutiny, it is actually an incredible work, many of whose subtleties and qualities I had overlooked as a child. Up until the other day, I have felt short-changed by almost all of the Dracula films I have seen. Christopher Lee, while being imperious and believable in the Hammer films, is far better than the material he had to work with. Gary Oldman's performance, while a lot of fun, was overwhelmed by the baroque tricksiness and technicolour cartoonishness of Coppola's version which had a unique charm of its own, but didn't actually scare me at all.
But practically every single element in John Badham's Dracula coheres into a wonderful, unified whole that captures the eerie menace and dark romance of the peerless source novel while taking great liberties with it. (There are no scenes in Transylvania, the characters of Lucy and Mina are switched etc...) The costume design, the cinematography, the gothic sets, the understated-but-highly-effective special effects, the score which, in its way, is as important to the film as the music in The Exorcist or Omen films, the intelligent and believable dialogue, the dark eroticism... there is so much to relish in this Dracula that sets it apart from all the others. And I haven't even mentioned any of the actors yet!
Frank Langella is a brooding, cultured, seductive and truly formidable Dracula. Tony Haygarth is a wonderful treat as the wretched Renfield. Donald Pleasance as Dr Seward, Laurence Olivier (no less!) armed with a dodgy Dutch accent as Abraham Van Helsing, a youthful Trevor Eve as Jonathan Harker... this is top-notch acting talent and it shows in the utterly committed and effortless performances. But the absolute revelation for me is the Canadian actress Kate Nelligan as Lucy. Beautiful, for sure, but so much more than just that. She absolutely commands every single scene that she is in. Her screen presence is, in turns, hugely endearing, hypnotic, swooningly romantic, spine-tingling and just, so, damn watchable! And I love her distinctly feminist interpretation of the character too! And her voice is like the finest Manuka Honey! I really can't think of an actress with better - and more bewitching - diction! I know most viewers are unlikely to be drawn to a Dracula film because of the character of Lucy. But, in this case, Lucy is the beating heart of the film and Kate Nelligan is the star attraction in a film bursting at the seams with great performances. (Oh, and the scene in the mine with Mina trying, unsubtly, to 'convert' her father (Van Helsing) to her vampiric point of view, is as gut-wrenchingly frightening as I remembered it from childhood!)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superior and intriguing failure, 21 Dec 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dracula [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
There's more than just a touch of disco to Frank Langella's costumes in John Badham's 1979 Dracula, and along with the copious amounts of dry ice accompanying his seductions and a Maurice Binder laser light love scene it occasionally hovers on the edge of turning into Saturday Bite Fever. But this is more of a lavishly mounted old-school interpretation, with W.D. Richter's screenplay reworking both the novel and the stage play to interesting effect: the film is set entirely in England, bracketed by two violent scenes at sea, and Dracula here is more of a serial seducer than a creature of the night. But by emphasizing the Byronic seductiveness of the role there's never an real sense of menace or threat: this Dracula is more like that smooth git who steals your girlfriend at a nightclub than the embodiment of evil, and it's only in the snarling violence of the finale that you get a sense of the animal beneath. That the forces of good are such a lifeless lot doesn't help much either: Laurence Olivier isn't quite as embarrassingly OTT as my memory had him, and Donald Pleasance's habit of eating in his every scene isn't as tiresome on the small screen as the large, but along with Trevor Eve's ey-upp lad northern lawyer type Jonathan Harker they don't exactly have you cheering them on. But despite the problems, the films is full of great little moments, such as the Count clawing away at the putty in a window to get to his first victim, boasts beautiful production design (the shipwreck and Carfax Abbey are particularly impressive) and has a wonderful romantic score by John Williams. The eagle-eyed will spot future Doctor Who and holder of the Guinness World Record for stuffing live ferrets down his trousers (it's genuine: look it up) Sylvester McCoy in a cough-and-a-spit part.

The transfer on both Universal's DVD and their subsequent Blu-ray release, sadly, loses the rich colour of the theatrical release for the prefered desaturated near-black and white look Badham originally wanted - one of those occasions where you can't help but agree with the studio, I'm afraid. Boosting the colour controls on your TV won't help either: parts of the film, like the establishing shot of Whitby Harbour, have no colour at all to boost, and the desaturation has been accompanied by a lack of background detail. The retrospective documentary on the Region 1 NTSC DVD and region-free Blu-ray is interesting and informative, but the photo gallery is poorly presented and the absence of the original trailer is disappointing.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great 1970's Dracula adaptation, 25 Oct 2006
By 
Claire Goodman (Tamworth, Staffs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dracula [DVD] (DVD)
I am so glad to see that this some times forgotten classic adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula has finally managed to make its way onto DVD. After growing up on the Hammer versions as a child my mother introduced me to this mainly british cast version of the story and in many ways this has stayed my favourite. The beautiful Frank Langella carries all the great attributes of his stage performance with him onto the big screen and gives an outstanding performance only re-inforced by the supporting cast. Never mind the Coppola version, if you are looking for the flamboyant extravagance of a stage production against the grittiness of a typical bristish costume drama than this is for you. Well worth a watch on too many levels to mention.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I have always enjoyed Badham's overblown Gothic romantic version of the Deane and ..., 22 Sep 2014
I have always enjoyed Badham's overblown Gothic romantic version of the Deane and Balderston stage play because it delivers mostly all it sets out to achieve, mood, music, romance, excitement, violence (but not the sex), and yet I have harboured a little negative ever since I saw it back in 1979... a small thing no less to my 54 year old sensibilities, but it illustrates quite vividly the ransacking of obscure classic works that are never given credit.

In 1977 I purchased a Corgi paperback entitled "The Rivals of Dracula" edited by Michel Parry and it includes a lost story from 1860 called "The Mysterious Stranger".

Badham's film-

Dracula (to Lucy) having invited her to his candlelit castle for dinner-
Dracula: "But I must warn you to take care."
Lucy: "Whatever for?"
Dracula: "If at any time my company does not please you, you will have only yourself to blame, for an acquaintance who seldom forces himself... but is difficult to be rid of." (Dracula can be forgiven his lazy English, in Stoker at least, for ending his sentence with a preposition, but screenwriter W. D. Richter cannot, and not only proves sloppy English but also plagiarism... or is that 'homage'?!)

Compare with the 1860 Anonymous story "The Mysterious Stranger"...

Franziska: "Well, since the moon is your sun, pray pay a frequent visit to our castle by the light of its rays. I think ... it will be very nice for us to be acquainted."
Knight Azzo: "If my company does not please you at any time, you will have only yourself to blame for an acquaintance with one who seldom forces himself, but is difficult to shake off."

There are so many similarities in "Dracula" to this almost forgotten Gothic gem that prove Stoker's inspiration, and for Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla" for that matter... just like when Argento ripped off De Quincey, yet it is almost sad that so often it is the case that there is no respectful acknowledgement for the source prose.

So the prose lives, and as far as I am aware, Badham's film is the only adaptation of Dracula to lift this dialogue.

That said, I look forward to the Bluray. It would be nice to think that the print being used was the original Technicolor one and not Badham's dull-toned 'muted' version that robs his romance of its lush vibrancy. Dreaming of course...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Washed Out Disappointment!, 9 Oct 2014
By 
D. Preston - See all my reviews
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Very disappointing that Universal have chosen to release the colour de-saturated version of this fine movie. The director stated that this was his preferred version. At times you will think that you are watching a black & white film. This is a great pity as the Blu Ray transfer is very good. Clarity and sharpness are excellent making you pine for the full coloured version originally shown in cinemas when it was first released. Increasing the colour and red tint to full on your TV will help a little. Technical issues aside this is a wonderful version of the oft told tale. Langella is magnetic as the Count and the supporting cast do not disappoint, with perhaps the exception of Laurence Olivier's Van Helsing.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dracula, 1 Dec 2004
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This review is from: Dracula [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Absolutly brilliant film. A romance for sure, but still a horror with great atmosphere in the right time scale; not these remakes in modern times, they just don't work.
Frank Langella is excellent as is every other famous actor in the cast. Buy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the real dracula for me, 24 May 2010
By 
Mrs. C. A. Harris "clooneyfan" (dorset, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dracula [DVD] (DVD)
First saw this film on television many years ago and fell in love with the most charismatic dracula i have ever seen in my life. He frightened and enthralled me both at the same time. The chills that went up my spine were not only from knowing he was a very dangerous creature, but also because he was so adoringly romantic. Who would not offer their neck to this glorious vampire. A fine actor is Frank Langella, he was once a truly handsome and seductive young man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Doesnt Suck, 10 Dec 2008
By 
G. R. Donaldson (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dracula [DVD] (DVD)
This version of the lusty count isnt bad. Frank Langella makes for a sympathetic count and its perhaps this element that stops it from being really frightening. As dashing as Frank is he exudes little in the way of menace. However the British locations are sumptuous and the supporting cast of Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasance,Trevor Eve and Tony Haygarth as an excellent Renfield are all good. One complaint is that the late Lord Olivier is perhaps a bit to old to play Van Helsing, as the role usually involves a tussle with the Count. I enjoyed this film more than say Ford Copollas 1993 Gary Oldman version. Despite these grumbles I would still put it in the worth watching category.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Real McCoy, 13 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Dracula [DVD] (DVD)
Like a lot of other psycho-sexually inadequate sickoes, I've had a pretty-much lifelong fascination with Vampires, so when this was released in 1979 I went along to see it. I was about 26 at the time, a more-or-less fully grown adult, with my own job and my own place, and (as I thought) enough experience of horror films to make me pretty immune to fright.
After I saw this film I spent the next four nights sleeping with the lights on.
It scared the living s**t out of me.
The film sticks only loosely to the overall plot of the book (I was disappointed at the end when it became clear that they wouldn't be going to Transylvania after all) and stays resolutely in Yorkshire. This is no bad thing in retrospect, however, as it concentrates the plot on the main elements of the story. It has wonderful touches, both of horror and humour. The scenes inside the Lunatic asylum are marvellously realised, with Laurence Olivier and Donald Pleasance grappling for screen-space and going gloriously over the top as Abraham Van Helsing and Dr. Seward respectively, while Tony Haygarth is simply wonderful as the simple-minded, querulous, bug-eating Renfield. The only less-than-perfect elements, to my mind, are the casting of Kate Nelligan as Lucy Seward, and Frank Langella as Dracula. Nelligan is too precious for words (as usual), while Langella (a good actor) is, to my mind, simply not right for the part, though he does his best and can be remarkably effective at times (see the part where he breaks into the asylum, kills Renfield - a really shocking moment - and makes off with Lucy).
The highlight of the film for me is where Van Helsing and Seward, having found that Van Helsing's niece Mina has been turned into a vampire by Dracula, unearth her coffin and find it empty. They go through a hole in the coffin's side into an old abandoned mine-working in search of her (Mine-workings don't appear in the original novel, but part of the film's ingenuity lies in making things like this add to the film's resonance and power). Van Helsing, searching the dark and dripping tunnels by flickering candlelight, drops his crucifix and, stooping to pick it up, catches sight of his niece reflected in a puddle at his feet. He looks up and sees what she has become. The beautiful Mina (played by the radiant Jan Francis) has become a thing of real horror, what a vampire would really be like if they actually existed - a loathsome, visceral fiend, living in the drains and feeding off rats and slugs. THIS is the bit that kept me awake for nights on end, and which still gives me the willies even now.
Though it takes liberties with the original novel, this is by far the very best film of the Dracula story ever to be committed to film. Its atmosphere is wonderful - dark, threatening and somehow real, with flashes of humour that make the shadows even deeper. If you want to run up your electric bill, watch this alone, with the lights off (and check behind the sofa first).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars romantic, but pale beside Hammer, 23 Oct 2011
By 
arbiter (Hamburg, Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dracula [DVD] (DVD)
This romantic version would have been 5-star material... but for one aspect

+ Rosamunde - Pilcher - landscape Cornwall is the location, the Excalibur-Hotel posing as a lunatic asylum is nicely ironic, and Saint Michael's Mount was virtually crying out for an undead lord of the manor.

+ Add to this Frank Langella, who has never been better. What he does with his hands few actors are able to do with their entire bodies.
+ The marriage by blood acquires a decidedly different tone than the written original; first, the lady consents, and second, it is underscored with romantic music and nice symbolism.
+ This is one of the few versions where we can see Dracula climbing walls (upside down!)
+ The identities of Mina and Lucy are switched which makes sense in terms of the plot, and will only irritate the purists.
+ There is even a secondary climax when Lucy in turn seduces her Jonathan - perhaps with even more eroticism than her scene with Dracula (gents, beware of that lady!).

Well, it could have been sooo nice!

I remember well the first TV broadcast... in luscious colours. Even Hammer's Christopher Lee was permitted to wallow in primary colours.

But this????

- As if someone had sucked out all the life of the literary source, no pun intended.
- This, however, drains the film of much of its passion
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