Episode of “Mystery and Imagination”
Article 4366 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Patrick Dromgoole
Featuring Denholm Elliott, Bernard Archard, Susan George
What it is: Adaptation of the Stoker novel
A mysterious count from abroad may be a vampire on the loose in London.
What we have here is a solid, good (if not great) adaptation of the Bram Stoker classic, and once again, I find myself focusing on the way the movie condenses the events and characters of the novel, which has always been a bit too sprawling to be adapted in its entirety. Since this is a feature-length episode of a TV series, it no doubt had a smaller budget than a theatrical release, so I’m not surprised that almost all of the action takes place in London; the only scene in Transylvania is during a highly stylized flashback. Once again, Lucy’s three suitors are reduced to one, and as usual, that one is Dr. Seward, as that character is the one most necessary for integrating both Renfield and Van Helsing into the plot. As in the Lugosi version of the story, Jonathan Harker and Renfield are combined into a single character; unlike that movie, it chooses to retain Harker and give him some of Renfield’s characteristics. The movie is well acted, if a bit on the dry side; however, it has some stylish moments, and some of the special effects are quite good, especially the disintegration scene near the end of the movie. The performances are quite good, and I like Denholm Elliott’s interesting take on the character. It’s not the best version of the story I’ve seen, but it is better than some of the theatrical versions.