Thursday, October 21, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 21 - Movie 1

I couldn't tell you how long ago I last saw the made for tv Dracula (1973) written by Richard Matheson and directed by Dan Curtis. Lodged in my memory as an excellent adaptation, I was pleased to discover that that standing did not diminish upon watching it again now. It has high production values, an excellent cast and some genuine chills, all the things not typically associated with the words "made for tv."

This may be the first version of Dracula to connect the vampire to historic Vlad Tepes. It also connects Lucy with Dracula's long dead wife. Jack Palance makes an excellent Dracula. His take on the character gives the lord of vampires some depth not often seen with Dracula. When we first meet him he is commanding, demanding, distant, rude, and strange. At other times he comes across as passionate, vile, animal-like, and his sense of loss when Lucy is taken from him and some of his boxes of earth are destroyed is profound. He also really looks the part. The rest of the cast is very good as well, but this version of the story really focuses on Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood, Lucy, Dracula, and for a time Jonathan Harker. Mina has a greatly reduced role, and the Sewards, Renfield and the others are left out completely. This reductionist version actually strengthens what's there and allows the story to breathe,  and you don't really notice the absence of the dropped content and characters.


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