Of the 40+ Dracula movies, some are of considerably more interest than others, as reflected in their treatment below. A complete listing is probably impossible.
1. Nosferatu (ot Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens; reconstructed with sound vt Die Zwölfte Stunde – Eine Nacht des Grauens 1930; other vts include Dracula; Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror; Nosferatu, The Vampire; Nosferatur, Eine Symphonie des Grauens; Eine Symphonie des Grauens) German movie (1922). Prana. Dir F W Murnau. Screenplay Henrik Galeen. Plagiarized from Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker. Starring John Gottowt (Professor Bulwer), Alexander Granach (Knock), Max Schreck (Graf Orlok), Greta Schröder (Ellen), Gustav von Wangenheim (Hutter). circa 63-circa 80 mins (varies with projection speed), with a 1984 retinted restoration running to 105 mins. B/w plus tints. Silent.
Bremen, 1838. Crazed estate agent Knock sends employee Hutter upriver into darkest Germany to the castle of Graf Orlok on the pretext of selling him a house in Bremen. Hutter finds both castle and count spooky but tolerable, until he cuts his thumb on a table-knife and the count insists on licking the blood. Next morning Hutter awakes assuming he has had bad dreams and that the bites on his neck have been made by spiders or mosquitoes. But that day he reads The Book of Vampires, and at sunset he sees Orlok in full vampiric splendour. He swoons and is about to be bled by Orlok when, back home in Bremen, his wife Ellen calls a warning to him via clairvoyant Dream. Next day he discovers Orlok's coffin, with Orlok senseless within it, and that night he witnesses Orlok – now infatuated by a miniature of Ellen – departing with a batch of coffins. Determined to warn Bremen, Hutter makes his slow way home on horseback; Orlok travels by river on the Demeter, whose crew he murders. Orlok can manifest himself as hordes of rats and, wherever the ship calls, plague spreads. Knock, now in an insane asylum, talks of his Master's coming; he slays a keeper and briefly escapes. Ellen, reunited with Hutter, despite his warnings reads The Book of the Vampires and discovers that the evil of the Nosferatu can be assuaged only if a chaste woman freely gives her blood to it and stays with it until dawn. She lures Orlok; he feeds eagerly until cockcrow, when the dawn sunlight causes him to vanish in a puff of smoke.
N, the first Vampire movie, was obviously stolen from Stoker; Stoker's widow Florence sued, and in 1925 gained an order forcing Murnau to destroy all copies. However, pirated prints survived. Moreover, in 1930 Murnau – by now in Hollywood – produced with Waldemar Ronger a reconstructed version, Die Zwölfte Stunde ["The Twelfth Hour"], including some scenes excised from the original.
Seen today, N is a curious mixture of the risible and the visually impressive, the latter almost exclusively when Orlok (or, importantly, his Shadow) is on screen. N was emulated in 34; its cine-historical importance can hardly be exaggerated. [JG]
2. Dracula (1931) US movie. Universal. Pr Carl Laemmle Jr. Dir Tod Browning. Screenplay Garrett Fort. Based on the play by Hamilton Deane and John L Balderston (although Stoker's novel is given main credit). Starring Herbert Bunston (Dr Seward), Helen Chandler (Mina Seward), Frances Dade (Lucy Weston), Dwight Frye (Renfield), Bela Lugosi (Dracula), David Manners (John Harker), Edward Van Sloan (Van Helsing). 84 mins. B/w.
Priggish young English estate agent Renfield travels in Transylvania to pass over to Count Dracula the title deeds to Carfax Abbey, near Whitby; although the occupants of a local inn try to stop him, he continues to Borgo Pass, where the count's weird coachman picks him up to transport him the rest of the way to Castle Dracula. Dracula welcomes his guest, displaying animation only when Renfield cuts his finger on a paperclip. Renfield collapses, his wine having been drugged; Dracula waves off his three "wives" as they advance on the unconscious form and himself vampirizes the man. Soon Dracula and the enslaved Renfield are aboard the Vesta, taking with them three crates of Transylvanian soil to England; on arrival Renfield, the vessel's sole survivor, is raving, and is incarcerated as a lunatic in the sanitarium of Dr Seward, near Whitby. Dracula, in London, gains an introduction to Seward, his daughter Mina, her fiancé John Harker and her friend Lucy Weston – who is much taken with the exotic foreigner. Entering Lucy's bedroom as a bat, Dracula vampirizes her. Her mysterious death is investigated by Van Helsing, who immediately realizes a Vampire is at work. Next Dracula goes for Mina, mixing his blood with hers in what she at first thinks is a Dream. Van Helsing, seeing Dracula has no reflection in a Mirror, identifies him as the villain, and moves to protect Mina. Dracula hypnotizes Mina's nurse in order to gain access to the sleeping woman, and carries her to ruined Carfax Abbey. Van Helsing and Harker find Dracula's sleeping form, and Van Helsing stakes him; Mina is tormented by the pain, but "cured"; and she and Harker are reunited.
This first US movie version of the tale is interestingly skewed from most others, notably in that Renfield is a central character, with Harker more or less sidelined. Peasantish comedy scenes were introduced to entertain the masses; overall, it is not only the coffin-lids that creak. [JG]
3. Dracula's Daughter US movie (1936). Universal. Pr E M Asher. Dir Lambert Hillyer. Spfx John P Fulton. Screenplay Garrett Fort. Starring Marguerite Churchill (Janet Blake), Gilbert Emery (Sir Basil Humphrey), Nan Gray (Lili), Gloria Holden (Countess Marya Zaleska), Otto Kruger (Jeffrey Garth), Irving Pichel (Sandor), Edward Van Sloan (Van Helsing). 70 mins. B/w.
The story picks up immediately after 2's end. Van Helsing is arrested for the murders of Renfield and Dracula. As he languishes, Countess Zaleska, Dracula's daughter, steals with the aid of her manservant Sandor the body of her father, which she cremates in an act of Exorcism, hoping thereby to free herself from the curse of vampirism. But there is no such "cure", and soon she preys on a stranger in the London fog. Called in by his old tutor Van Helsing to help the defence, Scotland Yard psychiatrist Garth meets and is attracted by Zaleska. She explains her problem in vague part, and Garth advises that, like an alcoholic, she should put the temptation in front of herself and fight the craving face-on; accordingly, she has Sandor bring a girl, Lili, as an "artist's model" – but is unable to resist the craving . . .
DD is, like 2, much marred by buffoonish "light relief". Yet the performances of Holden and (in her small part) Gray carry the whole thing off: there are some moments of genuine power, particularly in the final shot of Zaleska's lifeless, still beautiful face. DD is widely preferred to its predecessor and often regarded as a classic of the Vampire genre. [JG]
4. Son of Dracula US movie (1943). Universal. Pr Ford Beebe. Dir Robert Siodmak. Spfx George Robinson. Screenplay Eric Taylor. Starring Lon Chaney Jr (Alucard). 80 mins. B/w.
Alucard – "Dracula" backwards – arrives on a Southern US plantation and does some vampirizing. A B-movie that didn't try too hard. [JG]
5. House of Dracula US movie (1945). Universal. Pr Paul Malvern. Exec pr Joe Gershenson. Dir Erle C Kenton. Spfx John P Fulton. Screenplay Edward T Lowe. Starring John Carradine (Dracula), Lon Chaney (Larry Talbot, the Wolf Man), Glenn Strange (Frankenstein Monster). 67 mins. B/w.
A Monster team-up of little interest. Universal seemed determined to squander the Icons they had created in Frankenstein (1931), 2, 3 and The Wolf Man (1940). House of Frankenstein (1944; > Frankenstein Movies) was every bit as bad. [JG]
6. Blood of Dracula US movie (1957). American International/James H Nicholson & Samuel Z Arkoff. Pr Herman Cohen. Dir Herbert L Strock. Mufx Philip Scheer. Screenplay Ralph Thornton. Starring Mary Adams (Mrs Thorndyke), Heather Ames (Nola), Jerry Blaine (Tab), Don Devlin (Eddie), Gail Ganley (Myra), Sandra Harrison (Nancy Perkins), Louise Lewis (Miss Branding). 68 mins. B/w.
A crude matching of the Psychological Thriller with an attempt to give vampirism a Technofantasy rationale, all bundled up in a contemporary teen movie that has little to do with Dracula. Teenage fireball Nancy, dumped in exclusive Sherwood School for Girls, is lured by dotty chemistry teacher Branding, who sees vampirism as the feminist counter to the A-bomb. Nancy accordingly vampirizes people. [JG]
7. Dracula (vt The Horror of Dracula US) UK movie (1958). Hammer/Universal. Pr Anthony Hinds (1922-2013). Exec pr Michael Carreras. Assoc pr Anthony Nelson-Keys. Dir Terence Fisher. Mufx Phil Leakey. Screenplay Jimmy Sangster. Based on Stoker's novel and 2. Starring Peter Cushing (Van Helsing), Michael Gough (Arthur Holmwood), Christopher Lee (Dracula), Carol Marsh (Lucy Holmwood), Charles Lloyd Pack (Dr Seward), Melissa Stribling (Mina Holmwood), John Van Eyssen (Jonathan Harker). 82 mins. Colour.
The first of the Hammer Dracula movies. Englishman Harker arrives at Castle Dracula to work as a librarian. He soon realizes his employer is a Vampire, a fact that much interests his friend Van Helsing, who comes to the local village, Klausenburg, with the express purpose of destroying Dracula. A beautiful vampire woman tries to bite Harker's neck; he is saved from this by the Count, but Dracula then vampirizes him himself. As Dracula goes to London to continue his depredations – starting with Lucy Holmwood, to whom Harker was engaged – Van Helsing arrives at Castle Dracula to discover Harker "sleeping" in a coffin; reluctantly, he stakes him. Mina, the wife of Lucy's brother Arthur, asks Van Helsing for help; but by now Lucy has been fully vampirized, and she rejects his stratagems. Dracula visits her room one last time to kill her. She is put in the family vault but is later seen "alive" and must be staked by Van Helsing, aided by Holmwood. Next Dracula works on Mina, who has to be given a blood transfusion from Holmwood to avoid succumbing to vampirism. Dracula kidnaps her, but this time Van Helsing and Holmwood follow, and eventually succeed in forcing the vampire into the sunlight, where he perishes.
Gory and unabashedly sensual, this short movie is one of the definitive Cinema versions of the tale. Its genesis was fraught. Universal had drawn up an exclusive contract with Stoker's estate for the rights in the character (much later it was discovered that, through an oversight of Stoker's, the character was in fact out of copyright), and initially resisted attempts by Hammer to make the movie; the eventual agreement was that Universal should have distribution rights. Almost overnight Christopher Lee became the iconic image of Dracula in the popular mind: all subsequent Draculas have been matched against him. [JG]
8. Return of Dracula, The (vt The Fantastic Disappearing Man UK) US movie (1958). Gramercy/ United Artists. Pr Arthur Gardner, Jules V Levy. Dir Paul Landres. Mufx Stanley Smith. Screenplay Pat Fielder. Starring Norma Eberhardt (Rachel), Francis Lederer (Dracula). 77 mins. B/w.
Fleeing the "European Police Authority", Dracula comes to Carleton, California, adopting the identity of an emigrant he has despatched en route. The Mayburg family welcome the weird "long-lost cousin Belac", and tolerate his unusual ways, until . . . TROD is a not-bad movie. We are shown the shapeshifted Dracula not as a bat but as a cloud of smoke, out of which the human form materializes; this was presumably for the sake of cheapness, but the effect, especially in b/w, adds considerably to the atmosphere of this neatly made trifle. [JG]
9. Brides of Dracula, The UK movie (1960). Hammer-Hotspur/Universal. Pr Anthony Hinds (1922-2013). Exec pr Michael Carreras. Assoc pr Anthony Nelson-Keys. Dir Terence Fisher. Spfx Sydney Pearson. Mufx Roy Ashton. Screenplay Peter Bryan, Edward Percy, Jimmy Sangster. Novelization The Brides of Dracula * (1960) by Dean Owen (Dudley Dean McGaughy). Starring Victor Brooks (Hans), Peter Cushing (Van Helsing), Yvonne Monlaur (Marianne Danielle), Martita Hunt (Baroness Meinster), Freda Jackson (Greta), Fred Johnson (Curé), Miles Malleson (Dr Tobler), Andree Melly (Gina), Yvonne Monlaur (Marianne Danielle), Henry Oscar (Herr Lang), David Peel (Baron Meinster), Mona Washbourne (Frau Lang). 85 mins. Colour.
Despite its title, not really a Dracula movie – and certainly not Hammer's expected sequel to 7. Young Marianne Danielle is travelling to be a teacher at the Lang Academy in Badstein. En route she stops off at the castle of the Meinster family, where she discovers to her horror that the grotesque old Baroness is keeping the young Baron locked up. Marianne sympathetically releases him, little realizing that in fact the Baroness has confined him because she knows he is a Vampire. [JG]
10. Billy the Kid versus Dracula (vt Billy the Kid vs Dracula) US movie (1965). Circle/Embassy. Pr Carroll Case. Dir William Beaudine. Photographic fx Cinema Research. Screenplay Carl Hittleman. Starring John Carradine (Dracula), Virginia Christine (Eva Auster), Chuck Courtney (Billy the Kid), Melinda Plowman (Betty Bentley). 89 mins. Colour.
Pretending to be her uncle, Dracula inveigles his way into the Wild West household of Betty, whose fiancé is the reformed Billy the Kid. Like everyone else, Billy scoffs at the idea this weird stranger could be a Vampire, but he wakes up to the truth in time to stake Dracula through the heart. This was Beaudine's last movie; earlier the same year he had made the more entertaining Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1965), which tried the same Horror/Western mix (> Frankenstein Movies). [JG]
11. Dracula, Prince of Darkness UK movie (1966). Warner/Hammer/Seven Arts. Pr Anthony Nelson-Keys. Dir Terence Fisher. Spfx Bowie Films Ltd. Mufx Roy Ashton. Screenplay John Sansom. Novelization Dracula, Prince of Darkness * (1967) by John Burke. Starring Suzan Farmer (Diana Kent), Andrew Keir (Father Sandor), Philip Latham (Klove), Christopher Lee (Dracula), Francis Matthews (Charles Kent), Barbara Shelley (Helen Kent), Charles Tingwell (Alan Kent), Thorley Walters (Ludwig). 90 mins. Colour.
Although Hammer had released 9 in 1960, this was the first proper sequel to the enormously popular 7. Curiously, given that Lee had already become the archetypal image of Dracula, he is on-screen only briefly, Latham being the primary figure of Evil in the movie. As finally released, this movie had been heftily axed by the censor.
The Kents – Helen and husband Alan, Diana and husband Charles – are on holiday in Transylvania. The Abbot of Kleinberg, Father Sandor, warns them of the danger of their plans, but inevitably they end up in Castle Dracula, where the sinister butler Klove welcomes them – only to murder Alan that night and sprinkle his blood on Dracula's ashes, reviving the Vampire. Dracula promptly vampirizes Helen, and the two pursue Diana, the Count's real target. Sandor soon stakes Helen. Charles and Dracula prepare to fight it out on the castle's frozen-over moat. Quick-thinking Sandor fires his gun to crack the ice; Dracula falls into the running water and is destroyed. [JG]
12. Dracula Has Risen from the Grave UK movie (1968). Hammer/Warner-Seven Arts. Pr Aida Young. Dir Freddie Francis. Spfx Frank George. Mufx Rosemarie McDonald-Peattie, Heather Nurse. Screenplay John Elder (Anthony Hinds 1922-2013). Starring Barry Andrews (Paul), Norman Bacon (Mute Boy), Veronica Carlson (Maria Müller), George A Cooper (Landlord), Rupert Davies (Monsignor Ernst Müller), Barbara Ewing (Zena), Ewan Hooper (Priest), Christopher Lee (Dracula), Marion Mathie (Anna Müller), Michael Ripper (Max). 92 mins. Colour.
This has one of the very best Hammer openings. The church of a remote village in the shadow of Castle Dracula is desecrated when one of the Vampire's victims is discovered dead in its bell; thereafter Dracula is cast by the villagers into a frozen stream and presumed dead. But no. DHRFHG is, despite its great start, not so much bad as somehow unnecessary. [JG]
13. Taste the Blood of Dracula UK movie (1969). Hammer/Warner. Pr Aida Young. Dir Peter Sasdy. Spfx Brian Johncock. Mufx Gerry Fletcher. Screenplay John Elder (Anthony Hinds 1922-2013). Starring Ralph Bates (Courtley), Isla Blair (Lucy Paxton), John Carson (Jonathan Secker), Anthony Corlan (Paul Paxton), Linda Hayden (Alice Hargood), Russell Hunter (Felix), Martin Jarvis (Jeremy Secker), Geoffrey Keen (William Hargood), Roy Kinnear (Weller), Christopher Lee (Dracula), Michael Ripper (Cobb), Peter Sallis (Samuel Paxton), Gwen Watford (Martha Hargood). 95 mins. Colour.
Three "virtuous" Victorian gentlemen (Hargood, Samuel Paxton and Jonathan Secker) secretly conduct a life of Decadence. They are persuaded by disinherited aristocrat Courtley (who has sold his Soul to the Devil) to buy the effects of Dracula from curio-dealer Weller, who witnessed the vampire dying with a stake through his heart in Transylvania. At a form of Black Mass with the trio, Courtley ingests his own blood tainted with that of Dracula; he begins a Metamorphosis, and, horrified, they kill him. From his corpse arises Dracula in person, who swears Vengeance; he vampirizes Hargood's daughter Alice and Paxton's daughter Lucy, who kill their fathers; Lucy vampirizes young Jeremy Secker, who kills his father. Paul Paxton, who loves Alice, finally kills Dracula, saving her from vampirism.
In TTBOD Hammer made the equation between Sex and vampirism clearer than ever before; there are, too, hints of incest in the relationship between Hargood and Alice, so the movie is often seen in cut form. Certainly it is more ambitious than customary for Hammer, as indicated by the long list of principals. Corlan, after changing his name to Higgins, became internationally celebrated for movies like The Draughtsman's Contract (1982). [JG]
14. Countess Dracula UK movie (1970). Rank/Hammer. Pr Alexander Paal. Dir Peter Sasdy. Spfx Bert Luxford. Mufx Tom Smith. Screenplay Jeremy Paul. Novelization Countess Dracula * (1970) by Michel Parry. Starring Patience Collier (Julie), Maurice Denham (Fabio), Lesley-Anne Down (Ilona), Sandor Elès (Imre Toth), Nigel Green (Captain Dobi), Peter Jeffery (Captain Balogh), Peter May (Janco), Ingrid Pitt (Countess Elisabeth Nadarosdy). 93 mins. Colour.
Recently widowed, the elderly Countess Elisabeth discovers fortuitously that contact with a young woman's blood restores her youth. Based not on Vlad the Impaler but on the Polish Countess Elizabeth de Báthory (1560-1614), found guilty in 1611 of ordering the murders of countless young women so she might maintain youth by bathing in their blood, CD is effective. [JG]
15. Scars of Dracula UK movie (1970). Hammer/EMI. Pr Aida Young. Dir Roy Ward Baker. Spfx Roger Dicken. Mufx Wally Schneiderman. Screenplay John Elder (Anthony Hinds 1922-2013). Novelization The Scars of Dracula * (1971) by Angus Hall. Starring Jenny Hanley (Sarah), Anouska Hempel (Tania), Christopher Lee (Dracula), Christopher Matthews (Paul Carlson), Patrick Troughton (Klove), Dennis Waterman (Simon). 96 mins. Colour.
After a peasant girl is slain by Dracula, the local villagers fire the castle. Their glee is short-lived: Dracula retaliates with a plague of biting bats, and the villagers are returned to their oppressed state. A while later, Paul comes to Castle Dracula and is welcomed by the weird woman Tania, whom he later discovers – as she creeps into his bed that night – is a vampire. She tries to kill him; a furious Dracula kills her, but, threatened by the dawn, abruptly departs. Paul's brother Simon and lover Sarah come to the castle in search of him and are seized by Dracula; Dracula's butler Klove (a relic from 11) sets them free. After this lacklustre effort, Hammer Dracula movies were shifted into the contemporary world (> 20 and 25). [JG]
16. Dracula versus Frankenstein (vt Blood of Frankenstein; vt Revenge of Dracula; vt They're Coming to Get You) US movie (1971). Dir Al Adamson. Starring Lon Chaney Jr (Groton the Mad Zombie), Zandor Vorkov (Dracula). 90 mins. Colour.
This began life as The Blood Seekers – a black comic Technofantasy about drug-crazed hippies and a mad scientist – and was largely made before Dracula and the Frankenstein monster were grafted on. The two Horror-Movie icons come to an agreement to guarantee their supplies of fresh blood. This was Chaney's last movie. Not to be confused with the Spanish/German/Italian movie Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971; ot El Hombre que Vino del Ummo, dir Tulio Demichelli, 87 mins, colour), released the same year, which sees aliens attempting to conquer Earth by reviving various cinematic monsters, including the title two. [JG]
17. Guess What Happened to Count Dracula? US movie (1971). Dir Laurence Merrick. Starring Claudia Barron, Des Roberts. 80 mins. Colour.
A comedy in which Dracula terrorizes Hollywood. By all accounts this is rather good. [JG]
18. Blacula US movie (1972). AIP. Pr Joseph T Naar. Dir William Crain. Screenplay Raymond Koenig, Joan Torres. Starring Elisha Cook Jr, Vonetta McGee, Charles Macauly (Dracula), William Marshall (Blacula), Denise Nicholas. 93 mins. Colour.
In the wake of Shaft (1971) Hollywood was keen to produce "black" movies, and this was one result. A Caribbean freedom-fighter is vampirized and, centuries later, tries to find his reincarnated wife in Los Angeles so that he can vampirize her and "live" with her happily ever after. B was a critical disaster but was promptly sequelled by Scream, Blacula, Scream (1972).. [JG]
19. Count Dracula's Great Love (ot El Gran Amor del Conde Dracula; vt Cemetery Girls; Dracula's Great Love; vt Dracula's Love; vt Dracula's Virgin Lovers) Spanish movie (1972). Dir Javier Aguirre. Starring Paul Naschy (Dracula). 91 mins. Colour.
A group of travellers are vampirized by Dracula – all except a young woman with whom he has fallen in love. Rather than submit herself to voluntary vampirization, she suicides. [JG]
20. Dracula A.D. 1972 UK movie (1972). Hammer/ Warner. Pr Josephine Douglas. Dir Alan Gibson. Spfx Les Bowie. Mufx Jil (sic) Carpenter. Screenplay Don Houghton. Starring Stephanie Beacham (Jessica Van Helsing), Peter Cushing (Lawrence Van Helsing/Lorimer Van Helsing), William Ellis (Joe Mitcham), Marsha Hunt (Gaynor Keating), Janet Key (Anna Bryant), Michael Kitchen (Greg Pullar), Christopher Lee (Dracula), Philip Miller (Bob Tarrant), Caroline Munro (Laura Bellowes), Christopher Neame (Johnny Alucard). 95 mins. Colour.
In 1872 Lawrence Van Helsing died in London's Chelsea staking Dracula, who crumbled to ash; an acolyte of the vampire collected Dracula's Ring, a vial of ash and the stake and reburied the latter two items near St Bartolph's Church. Now, in 1972, Johnny Alucard, a descendant of that acolyte, infiltrates the swingin' crowd surrounding Jessica, granddaughter of Professor Lorimer Van Helsing, Lawrence's grandson. Alucard persuades the others to partake in what he claims is a mock Black Mass; in fact, he performs a blood Sacrifice to raise Dracula from the dead. The vampire seeks to avenge himself on the Van Helsing line by wedding Jessica.
Despite the title, this is a very 1960s movie, and its cool, trendy dialogue makes the rest hard to take seriously. [JG]
21. Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (ot Drácula contra Frankenstein; vt Dracula, Prisonnier de Frankenstein; vt The Screaming Dead) Spanish/French movie (1972). Interfilme/Fenix/Profif ETS. Dir Jesús Franco (1930-2013). Starring Dennis Price (Frankenstein), Howard Vernon (Dracula). 85 mins. Colour.
A bizarre, almost dialogue-free movie in which Frankenstein resuscitates Dracula in order to vampirize and thus conquer the world. Some critics regard it all as a mess, others as a triumph of Surrealism. [JG]
22. Dracula Saga, The (ot La Saga de los Dracula; vt Dracula: The Bloodline Continues; vt Dracula's Saga; vt The Saga of Dracula; vt The Saga of the Draculas) Spanish movie (1972). Dir Leon Klimovsky. Starring Tony Isbert (Dracula). 92 mins. Colour.
Dracula's son is a shambling misfit, unworthy to carry on the line, so the Count invites his pregnant granddaughter to the castle in hopes that her baby will prove a better successor. [JG]
23. Dracula (vt Bram Stoker's Dracula) US/UK movie (1973 tvm). Universal. Pr Dan Curtis. Dir Curtis. Spfx Kit West. Screenplay Richard Matheson. Starring Murray Brown (Jonathan), Nigel Davenport (1928-2013) (Van Helsing), Penelope Horner (Mina), Fiona Lewis (Lucy), Jack Palance (Dracula). 97 mins. Colour.
A reasonably faithful adaptation of Stoker's novel, this suffers for that very reason: the movie is imbued with a sense of overrespectfulness, so that both script and direction tend to default to pomposity. Worse still, Palance proves totally incapable of portraying a Central European in either accent or mannerism. Keanu Reeves had an analogous difficulty in 40, but he was playing merely the part of Harker so it did not matter so much.
Not to be confused with the Spanish/Italian/West German/Liechtenstein movie Bram Stoker's Count Dracula (1970; ot El Conde Dracula; vt Dracula '71; dir Jesús Franco, 98 mins, colour), which has Christopher Lee as the Count, plus Herbert Lom and Klaus Kinski; despite the cast, this unambitious movie reveals its low budget at every turn. One much-loved moment sees a "rock" bounce off a horse's head on its way to completely crushing a bystander. [JG]
24. Satanic Rites of Dracula, The (vt Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride US) UK movie (1973). Hammer. Pr Roy Skeggs. Assoc pr Don Houghton. Dir Alan Gibson. Spfx Les Bowie. Mufx George Blackler. Screenplay Houghton. Starring Patrick Barr (Lord Carradine), Michael Coles (Inspector Murray), Peter Cushing (Lorimer Van Helsing), William Franklyn (Torrence), Freddie Jones (Julian Keeley), Christopher Lee (Dracula/D D Denham), Barbara Yu Ling (Chin Yang), Joanna Lumley (Jessica Van Helsing), Richard Vernon (Matthews). 88 mins. Colour.
A reprise for present-day Lorimer Van Helsing and his granddaughter Jessica (see 20), the latter played by a fresh actress, this is more of a dark Technofantasy than the usual Hammer fare. Dracula (in the guise of Howard Hughes-style recluse D D Denham) intends to relaunch bubonic plague into the world. He desires Jessica and seizes her; Lorimer saves her, destroys the bacillus, and impales "Denham" on thorns before staking him with a handy fencepost.
This was the last of the Hammer Dracula movies, for the simple reason that Lee refused to play the part any longer. From the very first he had been uneasy about Hammer's attitude towards the Vampire – notably the way in which he could be revived at will despite having been comprehensively destroyed in each previous movie. Lee must also have observed that, during the 15 years in which he had been playing the part, audiences had become more sophisticated and wanted something new: the close-up views of his eyes becoming bloodshot now provoked giggles rather than frissons. [JG]
25. Blood for Dracula (vt Andy Warhol's Dracula; vt Dracula Cerca Sangue di Vergine e . . . Mori di Sete; vt Dracula Vuole Vivere: Cerca Sangue di Vergine!) French/Italian movie (1974). CC Champion & 1/Bryanston. Pr Andrew Braunsberg, Carlo Ponti, Jean-Pierre Rassam, Jean Yanne. Dir Paul Morrissey, Antonio Margheriti. Spfx Roberto Arcangeli, Carlo Rambaldi. Screenplay Morrissey. Starring Stefania Casini (Rubinia), Joe Dallessandro (Mario), Dominique Darel (Saphiria), Silvia Dionisio (Perla), Arno Juerging (Anton), Udo Kier (Dracula), Maxime McKendry (Marquisa), Roman Polanski (a villager), Vittorio De Sica (Marquis), Milena Vukotic (Esmeralda). 103 mins. Colour.
A comedy variant. Dracula can survive only on the blood of virgins (> Virginity), and there is a scarcity in Transylvania; he thus goes with valet Anton to Italy – a Catholic country should be littered with virgins. He is welcomed by a seedy Marquis eager to marry off his four daughters; alas, as Dracula discovers to his nausea on biting, the lusty gardener, Mario, has in each case got there first. [JG]
26. Vampira (vt Old Dracula) UK movie (1974). Columbia/World Film. Pr Jack H Wiener. Dir Clive Donner. Screenplay Jeremy Lloyd. Starring David Niven (Dracula). 88 mins. Colour.
A silly comedy in which Dracula takes samples of blood from beauty-contest finalists in order to resuscitate his dead wife. On revival, however, she proves to be black rather than white – oh, horrors! – and he tries to sort this out. [JG]
27. The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone US Animated Movie (1977 tvm). Hanna-Barbera. Voice actors Gay Auterson (Betty Rubble), Mel Blanc (Barney Rubble), Ted Cassidy (Frankenstone), Henry Corden (Fred Flintstone), John Stephenson (Count Rockula), Jean VanderPyl (Wilma Flintstone). 50 mins. Colour.
Above-average Saturday-morning fare in which the Flintstones and the Rubbles win a game-show and have a free holiday in a certain castle in Rocksylvania. [JG]
28. Count Dracula UK movie (1977 tvm). BBC. Pr Morris Barry. Dir Philip Saville. Screenplay Gerald Savory. Starring Mark Burns (Jonathan), Frank Finlay (Van Helsing), Louis Jourdan (Dracula), Susan Penhaligon (Lucy), Jack Shepherd (Renfield). 155 mins. Colour.
As far as one can tell, the adaptation of Stoker's original is reasonably faithful; the reason for the doubt is that this is one of the most unusual renditions of the tale, rendered often more in the form of an LSD trip than a straight narrative. Visually very exciting, making adventurous use of film and video combined, this version is not one for chill-seekers. Jourdan is unexpectedly good in the title role. [JG]
29. Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (vt Dracula's Dog; vt Zoltan, Hound of Hell) US movie (1977). Albert Band/Frank Ray Perilli/Vic Productions. Pr Albert Band, Frank Ray Perilli. Dir Band. Spfx Sam Shaw. Screenplay Perilli. Novelization Zoltan Hound of Dracula * (1977; vt Hounds of Dracula US; vt Dracula's Dog US) by Kenneth R Johnson. Starring José Ferrer (Inspector Branco), Arlene Martell (Major Hessle), Reggie Nalder (Veidt Smit), Michael Pataki (Michael Drake/Count Igor Dracula), Jan Shutan (Marla Drake). 88 mins. Colour.
A Romanian Army troop, blasting, uncovers a Dracula family tomb, and a recruit is left as overnight guard. In the darkness, the earth shakes and two coffins eject from their slots. Foolishly the guard pulls the stake from the heart of one, and is slain by the giant dog that erupts, the luminous-eyed Zoltan. The dog pulls the stake from the heart of its master, Smit – a servant of the Dracula slain by the mob in 1927. The part-vampirized Smit can endure daylight and has no craving for blood, but cannot survive without a Vampire master. The revived pair set off in search of Mikhail Dracula, the last of the Dracula line, smuggled out of the country in infancy and now, ignorant of his past, living in California as Michael Drake . . .
Bearing in mind that the fear of large, savage dogs, if nothing else, should make Z,HOD a nailbiter, the movie is surprisingly dull. Most of the human cast are wooden: the dogs are good. [JG]
30. Dracula Sucks US movie (1978; vt Love at First Bite). Dir Philip Marshak. Starring Jamie Gillis, John C Holmes. 91 mins. Colour.
A porn version, with much gore interspersed among the sex. Not to be confused with the US movie Dracula: The Dirty Old Man (1969; dir William Edwards, 87 mins, colour), which contains a similar but less explicit mixture. [JG]
31. Dracula US movie (1979). Universal/Mirisch. Pr Walter Mirisch. Dir John Badham. Spfx Roy Arbogast. Screenplay W Richter. Based on the play by Hamilton Deane and John L Balderston. Starring Trevor Eve (Jonathan), Jan Francis (Mina Van Helsing), Tony Hagarth (Renfield), Frank Langella (Dracula), Kate Nelligan (Lucy Seward), Laurence Olivier (Abraham Van Helsing), Donald Pleasence (Jack Seward). 112 mins. Colour.
A sumptuous production with dazzling spfx and some superb performances (Langella, who had also played the part in a Broadway revival, has been described as the best of all screen Draculas; alas, Olivier chose to ham), this reasonably faithful interpretation of the play has become a "lost" movie. As a Horror Movie it fails; as a romance, with a just-hidden layer of eroticism, it succeeds splendidly. [JG]
32. Dracula's Last Rites (vt Last Rites) US movie (1979). Dir Dominic Paris. Starring Patricia Lee Hammond, Gerald Fielding, Mimi Weddell. 88 mins. Colour.
A vampiric undertaker vampirizes a mother and daughter. This has little to do with the Dracula oeuvre aside from its title, and is by all accounts very bad. [JG]
33. Love at First Bite US movie (1979). American International. Pr Joel Freeman. Dir Stan Dragoti. Mufx William Tuttle. Screenplay Robert Kaufman. Starring Richard Benjamin (Jeff Rosenberg), George Hamilton (Dracula), Arte Johnson (Renfield), Susan Saint James (Cindy Sondheim), Dick Shawn (Lt Ferguson). 96 mins. Colour.
An often very funny comedy. Dispossessed of his Romanian castle by the communists, Dracula goes to New York, home of fashion model Cindy Sondheim, over whose pictures he has for years drooled, recognizing her as his one true, ageless love. With dwarfish, cackling, insect-eating servant Renfield, he soon tracks Sondheim down and, undeterred by her hardbitten promiscuity, makes romantic – and in due course carnal – love to her, to the distress of her psychiatrist and would-be bedmate Rosenberg, a descendant of Fritz von (sic) Helsing. The centuries-outmoded Dracula fails to adapt to the mores of modern NY – a failing that naturally increases his appeal to Sondheim, who incredulously discovers she has fallen in love.
The spfx are appalling – particularly the rubber bat into which Dracula periodically shapeshifts, always just off-camera – but, curiously, this adds to LAFB's attraction. A memorable feature is Hamilton's portrayal of Dracula, assisted by subtly unsubtle make-up done by Tuttle, responsible decades earlier for Lugosi's make-up in 2. [JG]
34. Nosferatu the Vampyre (ot Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) German/French movie (1979). Werner Herzog Filmproduktion/Gaumont/20th Century-Fox. Pr Werner Herzog. Exec pr Walter Saxer. Dir Herzog. Spfx Cornelius Siegel. Screenplay Herzog. Based on Stoker's Dracula and 1. Novelization Nosferatu * (1979) by Paul Monette. Starring Isabelle Adjani (Lucy Harker), Bruno Ganz (Jonathan Harker), Klaus Kinski (Dracula), Walter Ladengast (Van Helsing), Roland Topor (Renfield). 107 mins. Colour.
For the first two-thirds this is a remake of 1, although with the characters' names altered to approximate those in Stoker's novel and with the omission of most of the scenes aboard the Demeter and the subplot concerning Renfield's incarceration and temporary escape; the emulation extends to the physical appearances of the major characters, notably Dracula himself – although Kinski, largely responsible for his own image, claimed that he had not seen 1 before devising it. In this earlier section, however, there is a dimension missing from 1: the possibility is explicitly stated that Dracula and his castle have no physical Reality but are, rather, creations of the human mind.
The story diverges later in the movie. On arrival home Harker is insane, and it soon becomes clear he is now himself a Vampire. Dracula comes to Lucy and sadly confesses that he wishes he could die, but is instead condemned to Immortality, as is Harker; he would sacrifice everything to feed on the Love that Lucy and Harker share. But Lucy, a much more dominant personality than in 1, brusquely rejects him, and equates him with the plague infesting the city, which plague she in turn identifies, on witnessing the Dance of Death in the town square, as one not of disease but of Evil (Herzog himself drew the analogy with the plague of Nazism). Crumbling consecrated wafers to form a ring of crumbs around Harker, thereby imprisoning him, she lures Dracula as in 1; the eroticism of his feeding on her is here made profound, although not explicit. The dawn light brings not immediate death but protracted agony and collapse to Dracula; Lucy herself dies, her task fulfilled. Van Helsing, arriving on the scene, stakes Dracula and is arrested for the murder. Harker persuades a maid to sweep away the imprisoning crumbs, reveals himself as a vampire, and sets forth to spread the plague across the world.
This is a meticulously crafted, exquisitely conjured, finely paced and visually rich piece of moviemaking, and almost certainly the most beautiful version of Dracula. [JG]
35. Mamma Dracula Belgian-French movie (1980). Dir Boris Szulzinger. Starring Louise Fletcher, Maria Schneider. 80 mins. Colour.
Based, like 14, on the crimes of Countess Elizabeth de Báthory rather than Stoker's creation, this occasionally amusing comedy, set in the present, sees a vampiress employing a scientist to make artificial virgins' blood for her to bathe in. [JG]
36. Dracula Exotica US movie (1981). Dir Warren Evans. Starring Jamie Gillis (Dracula). 78 mins. Colour.
A porn variant set in New York, this starts off with a plot but soon loses it amid turmoiling buttocks. [JG]
37. Vampire of Venice (ot Nosferatu a Venezia; vt Vampires in Venice; vt The Vampires of Venice) Italian movie (1988). Scena/Reteitalia. Pr Augusto Caminito. Exec pr Carlo Alberto Alfieri. Dir Caminito. Screenplay Caminito. Starring Elvire Audrey (Uta), Ciunga (Queen of the Gypsies), Maria C Cumani (Matilde Camins), Barbara De Rossi (Countess Helietta Canins/Letitia), Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu), Donald Pleasence (Don Alvise), Christopher Plummer (Paris Catalano). 106 mins. Colour.
Set in the present day, with Plummer as a Van Helsing figure, VOV is frequently listed as a sequel to 34, which it is not, despite having Kinski and (a much changed) Nosferatu in common. The disjointed tale devolves too easily into a series of Plot Coupons interlaced with graphic sex scenes. There are strong echoes of The Exorcist (1973) in the confrontations with Nosferatu and of Don't Look Now (1973) in the sensuous evocation of Venice, while the direction and the (beautiful) cinematography clearly owe much to 34. [JG]
38. Dracula's Widow US movie (1989). Dir Christopher Coppola. Starring Sylvia Kristal. 86 mins. Colour.
Just three years before his father entered the Dracula arena (> 40), Christopher Coppola tried his directorial hand for the first time with this very minor, would-be erotic version. Hiding out in a Hollywood wax museum, Mrs Dracula vampirizes people. [JG]
39. Rockula US movie (1990). Dir Luca Bercovici. Starring Toni Basil, Dean Cameron. 91 mins. Colour.
A vampire becomes a rock star in order to regain his reincarnated lover. [JG]
40. Bram Stoker's Dracula US movie (1992). Columbia/American Zoetrope-Osiris. Pr Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Fuchs, Charles Mulvehill. Exec pr Michael Apted, Robert O'Connor. Dir Francis Ford Coppola. Vfx Roman Coppola, Fantasy II Film Effects, 4-Ward Productions, Gary Gutierrez, Alison Savitch. Mufx Greg Cannom. Screenplay James V Hart. Novelization Bram Stoker's Dracula * (1992) by Fred Saberhagen and James V Hart. Starring Bill Campbell (Quincey P Morris), Cary Elwes (Arthur Holmwood), Sadie Frost (Lucy Wessenra), Richard E Grant (Jack Seward), Anthony Hopkins (Abraham Van Helsing), Gary Oldman (Dracula), Keanu Reeves (Jonathan Harker), Winona Ryder (Elisabeta/ Wilhelmina [Mina] Murray), Tom Waits (Renfield). 123 mins. Colour.
The stated aim of BSD was to return to Stoker's original story, ignoring the countless fresh layers that had been added to the myth by earlier Horror Movies. The plot is therefore both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. The 15th-century Prince Vlad fought doughtily, impaling thousands, for the sake of the Roman Catholic Church; yet, when his beloved wife Elisabeta, believing him dead, suicided, the Church said her Soul was damned. Vlad, furious, took a blood oath to return from the dead and, in league with the powers of darkness, avenge this verdict. Now, in 1897, young Jonathan Harker is sent by his company from London to Transylvania. The centuries-old count behaves towards Harker with a mixture of aggression and unpleasant affection, realizing Harker's fiancée Mina Murray is a Reincarnation of Elisabeta. Arranging for himself and a couple of dozen trunks of earth to be sent to Carfax Abbey, he enslaves Harker among a trio of Succubi, the Brides, and sets himself to seduce Mina, currently staying at Hillingham with the rich family of her friend Lucy Wessenra. En route to London, Dracula transmutes into a vicious beast, destroying the crew and then, on land, savagely debauching Lucy, recently affianced to Lord Arthur Holmwood. Dr Jack Seward, superintendent of the asylum and infatuated with Lucy, unable to treat her consequent medical condition, sends for his old mentor, blood-disease expert Professor Abraham Van Helsing (a richly comic performance by Hopkins), who deduces the presence of a Vampire. Dracula returns to Lucy's invalid bed and, as a wolf, in a climactic scene kills her. Van Helsing, Holmwood, Seward and another swain of Lucy's, Quincey P Morris, confront her undead form and finally stake and behead it. Harker, meantime, has escaped the Brides and sends from Transylvania for Mina; they wed and return to London. But before her departure she was infatuated by the rejuvenated Prince Vlad, and the pleasure of her guilty love lingers. When he comes to her and partakes of her blood she (knowing through her Dreams that she is indeed his beloved Elisabeta, and thus loving him) seduces him further, drinking his blood and thereby infecting herself with vampirism. Led by Van Helsing and Jonathan (now grey-haired, despite his youth), and using a divided-self Mina (> Multiple Personality) as first guide and then decoy, the friends track the fleeing Dracula back to his castle, where they wound him grievously. However, at the last Van Helsing stays their hands: it is the duty of Elisabeta/Mina, with her ancient husband's consent, to drive the blade through his heart and cleave his head from his shoulders, thereby releasing him and lifting the vampiric Curse from herself.
BSD is a hard movie to assess. Coppola seems to revel in old-fashioned narrative techniques. Few superstitions concerning vampires are left untouched: Mirrors shatter rather than bear Dracula's reflection, and flowers wilt at his passing; he can defy gravity, alter the weather and project his semblance over distance, so that Mina and Lucy see him in Visions; crucifixes, the ritual of Exorcism, holy water and garlic hamper him, but little more than that. There is also much play with Shadows, which need not move in parallel with their casters; Dracula often pantomimes his unrealized desires. All told, though, this BSD generates a powerful portrayal. [JG]
41. Dracula Rising US/Bulgarian movie (1992). New Horizons. Pr Roger Corman. Assoc pr Steven Rabiner. Co-pr Mary Ann Fisher. Dir Fred Gallo. Spfx dir John Eppolito. Mufx Everett Burrell, John Vulich. Screenplay Rodman Flender, Daniella Purcell. Starring Christopher Atkins (Vlad), Stacey Travis (Theresa), Zahari Vatahov (Vlad the Impaler), Doug Wert (Alec). 87 mins. Colour.
Picture restorer Theresa is captivated by mysterious foreign visitor Vlad. Subsequently she is summoned to a creepy Transylvanian monastery to restore a portrait of Vlad the Impaler, and finds Vlad there, as well as vile abbot Alec. Subsequently she undergoes a series of Timeslips, whereby she learns she is the Reincarnation of a 15th-century peasant girl, burnt as a Witch at Alec's instigation because of her carnal affair with the monk Vlad, the nonvampiric son of the Impaler. On her death, Vlad renounced the Church; his father persuaded him that through becoming a vampire he could achieve Immortality and wait for Theresa to be incarnated once more. Director Gallo does wonders with his budget. [JG]
further reading: House of Horror: The Complete Hammer Films Story (1973; rev with Jack Hunter 1994; rev 1995) by Robert Adkinson, Allen Eyles and Nicholas Fry gives good coverage of all the Hammer Dracula movies and a reasonable survey of the others; The Annotated Dracula (1975) by Leonard Wolf is helpful; Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of "Dracula" from Novel to Stage to Screen (1990) by David J Skal; Bram Stoker's Dracula: The Film and the Legend (1992) by Francis Ford Coppola and James V Hart is good on 40; The Monster Show (1993) by David J Skal contains much of relevant interest.