IT WOULD BE forty-eight years before Universal would look to reboot the Dracula franchise for the silver screen.
A lot had changed in the world since then and because of that we’re presented with a much more sexually charged Dracula.
A far cry from Bela Lugosi’s representation.
I’d never seen this version before writing this review and upon watching this version, I saw so many images that were reflected twenty years on with Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola, including Gary Oldman’s hair.
But this was 1979 and Coppola’s version was not yet on his radar.
He was knee deep in Apocalypse Now terrain at the time.
In this instance, directorial duties fell to British-American John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, Blue Thunder, WarGames, Short Circuit).
His leading man would be Frank Langella, (Skeletor folks!!) who seems to carry such sinister presence on screen, whether he is portraying Nixon, Boris Balkan, or in this case, Dracula himself.
There’s actually a lot like in this version of the Dracula story.
With the Tagline “A Love Story”, the focus on romance suited Langella’s dashing stature alongside Kate Nelligan as Lucy, (not Mina in a decision where these roles would be switched from the novel).
The film would dive straight into the action too, jumping straight on board the ship Demeter, as it crashes of the coast of Whitby.
There is a lot of focus on Dracula’s transformative states, be it wolf or bat, to great effect for its time.
There are great support roles too with Trevor Eve’s stoic Jonathan Harker, Lawrence Olivier’s restrained performance of Van Helsing, and the always brilliant, Donald Pleasence as Dr Seward.
Yes it does take liberties with some of the choices narratively speaking but it’s an enjoyable movie all the same that comes highly recommended from the Surgeons team.
- Paul Farrell