Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Count Dracula (1970)

Big leap ahead to 1970 with another more accurate depiction of the novel.

Now obviously it's not a perfect adaptation, but Jesus Franco delivered a good enough adaptation of Bram Stoker's work. It's an interesting example of cinema, and I'll freely admit this is my first Jesus Franco film and the style is unique to me but also gives the film it's own personal feel. So we start off with Jonathan Harker making his way to the Borgo Pass to convene with the Count over the purchase of property in London, and it follows the book fairly well for that first section, hell it gets a giant gold sticky star for being the only adaptation of Dracula that fits the description of the count in the book, but this being a barely over 90 minute movie we move swiftly on to London as we are introduced to the rest of the characters. Jonathan's fiancee Mina, her best friend Lucy, Dr. John Seward residing physician at a mental hospital, Quincey Morris the love interest of Lucy, and Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. We're still following the no frills outline of the book and keep a steady pace, and not to go into the depths of detail and spoilers because you know this story, so let's talk about some details instead. I appreciate it being a period piece and the look of the movie while minimalistic works very well! The camera is the most interesting factor, you get a lot of handheld stuff, so many zooms it would be a dangerous drinking game, and panning shots which shows off the full scope of the sets and location. I've heard conflicting opinions on whether this was shot in Franco's native country of Spain or in Italy, but either way the castle, the classy interiors, and the distinctly old fashioned yet creepy exteriors look lovely. Easily, far and away, hands down, best Christopher Lee performance as Dracula, I was so taken aback by the amount of dialogue he had because it's a well known fact he refused to speak the dialogue in subsequent Hammer films, and it makes a world of difference. Speaking of Hammer, Herbert Lom is Van Helsing in this and it took me a good bit before I realized it was The Phantom Of The Opera before he got scarred by acid, a very serious and well spoken iteration of the character but not much else. I feel like an ass when I say stuff like this but...if Quincey Morris ain't texan then he ain't Quincey Morris, now am I saying I need this thick kountree accent or more southern idioms than you can shake a stick at? No sirree, but goddamn it that would tickle me pink and put a huge smile on my face because he is easily my favorite character in the entire book. Not to even slightly say the cast didn't do fine work, they did all the way through. It's not one of the most examplary versions of this classic literary character, but if you're a fan of vampire movies or more foreign-y films or movies of an older caliber it is worth seeing. They made a solid attempt at bringing the book to life, and did it in an interesting and entertaining way. So it's definitely a good movie, and if you don't want to take my word for it Christopher Lee himself said it was a fine effort. I give it 3 stars, 7/10, and Coppola's Dracula is next.

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