Count Dracula (1970)

aka Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht, Les Nuits de Dracula
Article 2530 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-8-2008
Posting Date: 7-16-2008
Directed by Jesus Franco
Featuring Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski
Country: Spain/West Germany/Italy/Liechtenstein

Dracula moves from Transylvania to London, and terrorizes Londoners.

This is often trotted forth as the truest cinematic version of the Bram Stoker novel, and there’s no reason to doubt the assertion. Most of the changes make sense in terms of keeping the movie to a manageable length; the combination of two of Lucy’s suitors into one is the most noticeable. I do miss my favorite part of the story (the voyage to England aboard the ship), but I can understand why it’s gone. Franco keeps his excesses in check here and manages to deliver a moody, coherent movie. Still, I find it detached and uninvolving; Franco’s style does make me feel like I’m watching the story from a distance, and this does little to build anything in the way of suspense. The characters only come across as interesting when I find the actors themselves familiar and interesting; consequently, the three most familiar names in the three most familiar roles (Christopher Lee as Dracula, Herbert Lom as Van Helsing and Klaus Kinski as Renfield) emerge as the most memorable characters. Even at that, I’m still a little disappointed; Kinski does little more than act silently crazy in a cell, which he does well, but which is only mildly interesting, and there’s never a really good face-off between Van Helsing and Dracula; in fact, omitting Van Helsing from the final scenes of the movie is just a plain question mark to me. All in all, this is an acceptable movie (both as a Franco movie and as an adaptation of the novel), but not a particularly great one on either level.



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