“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make.”
Count Dracula (1970)
Directed by Jesse Franco
This is one of Jesse Franco’s more coherent films. It’s a somewhat faithful version of Bram Stokers Dracula, dripping with gothic atmosphere. It’s artistically lit with vibrant orange and blue tones contrasted with black shadows like a noir film. Suitably dramatic music score layers the mood, although the harpsichord main theme gets a bit monotonous. It is filmed and edited in late 60’s Euro style which portends its slow pacing.
It’s amazing how Lom’s portrayal of Van Helsing is mirrored by Hopkin’s version some thirty years later. Christopher Lee is gray-haired with a distinguished mustache in his portrayal of an aged Dracula. As he is inspired by a modern London (1800s) and feeds, he grows younger as the film progresses. This version spends more time with Renfield than others, but in an attempt to also be faithful to Stokers story, Klaus Kinski doesn’t have much substance to his part.
A few exceptional scenes break up the sluggish pace. The early scenes of Harker traveling the haunted woods of the Carpathian Mountains by stagecoach are as creepy as any film version. In one scene Dracula appears from the shadowed corner of Nina’s bedroom with Van Helsing as her guard. When Van Helsing makes the sign of the cross upon the floor, Dracula moves backward dissolving into the shadow.
It’s slow pacing and abrupt ending keep this from being a recommended vampire film. However, Dracula film aficionados and Lee completists will enjoy this for a few well crafted scenes and it’s gothic atmosphere.