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"Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

Old 09-26-22, 09:31 PM
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"Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge



Count Dracula (1970)




Selected by Travis McClain


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KANOPY

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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

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2022 DISCUSSION | 2022 LISTS

Last edited by Chad; 09-26-22 at 10:40 PM.
Old 10-01-22, 06:04 AM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

I picked this in large part because I've subscribed to Dracula Daily, and knew that this film's reputation was of strong fealty to Stoker's novel. In the commentary track, David Del Valle acknowledges that for the first 35-40 minutes, that's true and then the film begins taking liberties. I found it jarring when Jonathan Harker awakened from escaping Castle Dracula not in a convent somewhere in the Carpathians, as in the novel, but in a hospital outside London--a hospital run not by Dr. Seward, but by Van Helsing, at that! Honestly, I felt cheated in that one moment and the film never really redeemed itself thereafter. Del Valle and star Maria Rohm both agree that director Jess Franco simply lost interest partway into production and that it shows in the final product. They also share that Franco didn't really want to make the film in the first place, or at least not under the restrictions imposed on him by the investors, and that too shows. There's little momentum or energy. At times, it felt more like an anthology of adaptations of key passages from the novel than a cohesive work. (What exactly was the point of Van Helsing suffering an off-screen stroke, other than to sideline him from the action in the finale? Dude even stands up when confronted by Count Dracula!)

Also, I must confess my enjoyment was dampened somewhat by Severin's predictable absence of closed captions. I could understand most of the dialogue, thankfully, but there were some bits and pieces that I couldn't. That took me out of the movie as I tried to work out in my head what the missed words might have been. It was especially egregious that they didn't caption the 26 minute interview with Franco. I only caught 2/3 at most of what he said. As of this post, I've yet to get to any of the other special features, but intend to throughout the day. One thing that I did catch was Franco disputing a claim made by producer Harry Alan Towers (in an archival clip) and repeated by Rohm in her commentary remarks, that Klaus Kinski had been lied to and told he wasn't filming a Dracula movie because he refused to be in one. Franco laughs it off as absurd, noting of course he knew he was playing Renfield in a Dracula movie--he's clearly addressed as Renfield several times in his scenes by other characters.

The commentary track is also periodically obnoxious, as it seemed David Del Valle didn't understand when to quit talking and let his interviewee speak. Even after setting up his question, he would continue setting it up, or begin to answer it for her. Other times, she would give an answer and he would respond with something entirely antithetical to what she'd just said. For instance, he asked if she'd read any of the books written about Franco, her, or other key members of their circle. She replied no, and added that she had reservations about their veracity. Del Valle then launches into talking about--and quoting from--such a book, as though she'd just declared herself a big fan of those works. When she does get to speak, though, she's refreshingly candid. When asked what kind of sense of humor Franco had, she replied, "None." When asked about Romina Power, she replied, "I liked her mother [Linda Christian]" and proceeded to outline why Romina Power wasn't cut out to be an actress. There wasn't much blood in the movie, but Rohm splattered a good deal of it in the commentary!
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Old 10-01-22, 08:30 AM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

Count me disappointed. I’m not a big fan of Franco, but always enjoy Lee and, forgive my French, figured at least there’d be some boobies. But the version on Kanopy was completely tame, and Lee was pretty lifeless here.
Old 10-01-22, 08:46 AM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

Jess Franco's Dracula is one of the more faithful adaptations of Stoker's novel and has a powerful cast including Chris Lee, Klaus Kinski, Herbert Lom and the gorgous Solidad Miranda. The film is a workman like production, but overall it lacks a punch due to the film being flatly acted. An accomplished film, but devoid of tension. Also, i am not sure why Franco strayed from the book in the third act, particularly the ending, which seemed anticlimatic.

7/10
Old 10-01-22, 11:38 AM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

It was my first time seeing this which actually surprised me.
It was better than average I’d say and that’s really only because of Lee and Kinski.
Old 10-01-22, 12:09 PM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

Count Dracula (1970) features a dapper ranged Christopher Lee vampire. I watched this right after Scars of Dracula from the same year and the superior Lee turn at Dracula is startling here. Drector Franco pans or zooms in near every shot but nails a great muted fever dream eurohorror that feels faithful to source. It is funny how much Franco focuses on himself as the valet in some scenes creating a sort of weird silent character who seems more emphasized that his role, at first I thought he was a surprise henchmen. Soledad Miranda is too striking as Lucy but Kinski wasted. The taxidermy scene is unintentionally funny; way overkill on the stuffed creatures - like an extended slow mo fake jump scare. The colors were muted but that seemed to be a gritty artistic choice.

Im not a huge fan of Dracula because there are some many adaptations it's fatiguing but enjoyed this one probably more for the eccentricities and staging.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-01-22 at 01:18 PM.
Old 10-01-22, 04:46 PM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by Trevor
Count me disappointed. Iím not a big fan of Franco, but always enjoy Lee and, forgive my French, figured at least thereíd be some boobies. But the version on Kanopy was completely tame, and Lee was pretty lifeless here.
Yes, glad I'm not the only one. Got about 40 minutes in and it's just dragging. Taking a little break to do work and then powering the rest of it.
Old 10-01-22, 07:09 PM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by jacob_b
Yes, glad I'm not the only one. Got about 40 minutes in and it's just dragging. Taking a little break to do work and then powering the rest of it.
From what I gathered from the disc supplements, that's pretty much how Franco felt, too.
Old 10-01-22, 08:00 PM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

Over the years, Iíve managed to acquire 2 copies of this Severin disk. This movie was just dreadful. I have a tendency to rank my Draculas more by the Renfields. I have a soft spot for Dwight Frye, so I really love the Lugosi version. A non-speaking Renfield just seems like a real loss.

Like Travis, Iím also subscribed to Dracula daily. My summer was spent reading the novel and watching the Coppola and Herzog versions. The literary tossing of the baby to the Brides has always been quite horrifying, but it was represented in the Franco version, and to great effect.
Old 10-02-22, 01:41 AM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

Disappointing. I've seen so many versions of Dracula, and most of them have something to recommend them. I'd never seen this version and was excited about it. "Faithful"? Absolutely. It was completely straight-forward with nothing original or inventive about it. Now, I'll grant you, this was 1970. so perhaps not that many versions had been made at that point, but today doing such a flat interpretation feels really boring. The sets were bare. The lighting was all brightly lit leaving no mystery, no tension (for example in Lucy's room during her attacks. The lighting is so strong, when she goes to the door, you see her sharp shadow on the wall). Renfield is one of my favorites and I love seeing crazy versions of him. But Klaus Kinski did less than nothing with this role. Other than jumping up on the window a few times, he might as well have been in a coma. Where is crazy Renfield? Christopher Lee is the only good thing in this movie, but he's not in it enough to save it.

Having judged it so harshly (sorry to anyone who likes it!), I will say that I'm still glad I saw it. One to add to my list of Dracula versions I'd seen and it's also one of the few Lee movies I haven't seen, so it was a good pick for the theme night.
Old 10-02-22, 04:59 AM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

Although Jess Franco's script gives Christopher Lee's Dracula far more dialog than any Hammer film, this film is dull. 100% agreement with JHolmes, this movie is one big wasted opportunity.
Old 10-02-22, 09:54 PM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

I've been thinking it over, and I think I would dispute the film's claim to fealty to Stoker. It's a half-truth, in that most of what's in the movie is in the novel, but I don't feel the novel meaningfully made it onto the screen. (Arthur Holmwood would like a word about being faithful to Stoker, incidentally!) Yes, this Dracula has a mustache, a soliloquy about his ancestors, and de-ages as he escalates his preying. Christopher Lee may have appreciated these things, but these are ultimately only superficial elements. Consider the scene of Dracula giving the child to his brides, since that's been remarked on in this thread. It's rarely included in adaptations, true. But does it actually add anything to this film other than the novelty of putting it on screen? Here's the totality of the incident in the novel:
Spoiler:
MAY 16
"Are we to have nothing to-night?" said one of them, with a low laugh, as she pointed to the bag which he had thrown upon the floor, and which moved as though there were some living thing within it. For answer he nodded his head. One of the women jumped forward and opened it. If my ears did not deceive me there was a gasp and a low wail, as of a half-smothered child. The women closed round, whilst I was aghast with horror; but as I looked they disappeared, and with them the dreadful bag. There was no door near them, and they could not have passed me without my noticing. They simply seemed to fade into the rays of the moonlight and pass out through the window, for I could see outside the dim, shadowy forms for a moment before they entirely faded away.

JUNE 24

As I sat I heard a sound in the courtyard without—the agonised cry of a woman. I rushed to the window, and throwing it up, peered out between the bars. There, indeed, was a woman with dishevelled hair, holding her hands over her heart as one distressed with running. She was leaning against a corner of the gateway. When she saw my face at the window she threw herself forward, and shouted in a voice laden with menace:—

"Monster, give me my child!"

She threw herself on her knees, and raising up her hands, cried the same words in tones which wrung my heart. Then she tore her hair and beat her breast, and abandoned herself to all the violences of extravagant emotion. Finally, she threw herself forward, and, though I could not see her, I could hear the beating of her naked hands against the door.

Somewhere high overhead, probably on the tower, I heard the voice of the Count calling in his harsh, metallic whisper. His call seemed to be answered from far and wide by the howling of wolves. Before many minutes had passed a pack of them poured, like a pent-up dam when liberated, through the wide entrance into the courtyard.

There was no cry from the woman, and the howling of the wolves was but short. Before long they streamed away singly, licking their lips.

I could not pity her, for I knew now what had become of her child, and she was better dead.

What shall I do? what can I do? How can I escape from this dreadful thing of night and gloom and fear?


In this film, Dracula does chase away the three brides from Harker and mollifies them with the child. The mother does bang on the door and wail. But that's it. We don't learn anything about the extent to which Movie Harker has become consumed with terror and his spirit shattered, as those moments show us about Book Harker. Nor did this make Dracula any more menacing or ruthless for me.

I would also challenge the notion that the film was inherently doomed to feel rote because of its fealty to the novel. Hitchcock famously explained that the audience knowing what the characters do not was key to suspense. Us already knowing the story shouldn't nullify a film's capacity to engage us and build suspense. We should be thinking of Dracula whenever he's not onscreen. Stoker accomplished that by not providing us with any text from Dracula himself; only other characters' accounts of interactions with him. And as Hitchcock would have observed, we know Dracula is responsible for the various mysteries perplexing them, but our heroes don't because they don't have enough dots to connect. I spent all summer waiting for them to finally realize what was going on! Knowing as much as I already did was not a liability.

Speaking of already knowing things, I get that the film whisked Harker into the sanitarium in order to expedite things, but he's the guy who took Dracula the paperwork for Carfax Abbey. Why didn't he launch directly into shouting, "THERE IS A VAMPIRE NEXT DOOR!" until either being believed or sent to a room next to Renfield?
Old 10-03-22, 11:56 AM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

This was fairly lackluster. It took me a while to get over just how cheap things looked. The closeup of the wolves that were clearly German shepherds was a highlight. It kept reminding me of better films, and then it just ends. As usual, it was great to see Lee as Dracula. I was expecting more lunacy from Kinski.
Old 10-10-22, 08:53 PM
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Re: "Count Dracula" Reviews/Discussion - 2022 Horror Challenge

I watched this for a prior challenge. Lee is great as usual and the settings have a nice old world charm but this film is a squandered opportunity with Lee as Dracula.

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