Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula (1971)
(AKA Count Dracula, El Conde Dracula,
Il Conte Dracula, The Nights Of Dracula, Dracula 71)
Spain/Italy/West Germany
Director Jesus Franco
Cast, Christopher Lee, Klaus Kinski,
Soledad Miranda, Maria Rohm, Herbert Lom.

Ok Dracula, we all know the story! Jonathan Harker goes to Transylvania to close a property deal with the count, the count sucks some of his blood, sees the picture of Jonathan’s beloved Mina (Mary here, Soledad Miranda) and takes off on a ship to London to find her.
Dracula arrives in London, first seduces and vampirizes Mina’s friend Lucy, turning her into a vile creature of the night, (though it’s Maria Rohm, so she isn’t all that vile!).

Jonathan escapes from Dracula’s castle and rushes back to London to save Mina. Too late to save Lucy, but in time to save Mina. With the help of Van Helsing (a wonderful Van Helsing portrayed by Herbert Lom. Yes he of the Pink Panther movies) and a couple of Lucy’s admirers Dracula is hunted down, chased back to Transylvania where his stinking walking carcass is laid to rest once and for all.

And well that’s about the story, I guess I need not explain it more than that, since pretty much everybody today is familiar with it.

During the credit sequence this film claims to be the first faithful adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel. I know it is a reasonably faithful version, and memory does not remind me of one previous to this that was as faithful, but I could be wrong.  Not of course including F. W. Murnau’s silent expressionist masterpiece Nosferatu (1922), which is faithful enough as long as you don’t count (no pun intended) the fact that he changed the names, the locations and the ending

Klaus Kinski’s Renfield, is not the Renfield of the novel, but still I think is a wonderful performance by Kinski. Almost mute throughout, it is an understated but very powerful performance. Nothing similar to the annoying constant giggling of the Renfield in Werner Hertzog’s Nosferatu (1979). Someone there was obviously thinking that insanity should be portrayed using incessant giggling, when the only insanity this brings to mind is on the viewer from having to listen to it.

Though this adaptation is pretty faithful to the novel, and I enjoyed it. I do not think that it is as vibrant or as fast paced as Francis Ford Coppola’s Later adaptation, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), with Gary Oldman. I do like both versions, but feel that the Coppola version is more exciting, running at a faster pace like the heart of a beast beating away within your chest, where Franco’s one seems to lack fear and excitement (but I still love it!).

For those expecting to see a normal Jesus Franco movie, there are still little bits of it here. First of all though there is NO NUDITY, which even I was surprised at, this being a Jess Franco movie and all. There is no jazz soundtrack, but we are still left with those some times wonderful and sometimes crazy zooms. Though in this movie I no way felt that those zooms were out of place. They did not seem as intrusive on the flow of the narrative as they sometimes do in his other works.

… And well for Jesus Franco to do one of the most faithful adaptations of the Dracula novel frankly I think is wonderful.  No one was doing faithful adaptations at the time, certainly not Hammer films anyway and most of the vampire movies around at the time were exploitation films all blood and boobs. Not that there is anything wrong with blood and boobs! I think it is just refreshing to get a faithful version of the story for a change.  …And well for someone like Franco, who in the industry does not get the respect he deserves, to do a faithful and good adaptation of the novel, I think will be something that will be noticed and remembered eventually.

Review by Giovanni Pistachio, Giovanni can be contacted at:-

email:-  giovannip@pistachio-films.com
© Owned Giovanni Pistachio.


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