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Friday, May 30, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Dan Curtis' Dracula

Now, I fancy myself a horror aficionado and I like to think I have a lot of knowledge about the genre but I do not by any means consider myself an encyclopedia. I have a lot to learn and experience in the genre, especially with the older classics, which thankfully I am able to see when they get blu-ray upgrades.

That said, I am a little surprised that I had absolutely zero knowledge of the existence of a Dracula movie directed by the creator of Dark Shadows, starring Jack Palance and written by the legendary Richard Matheson. Surely this kind of pedigree would make this a more well known film. Sure enough, it does exist and MPI has just released it on Blu-ray.

Click the RAWR for my thoughts on this 1974 classic!

If anyone would have told me that Jack Palance played Dracula I never would have believed you. The idea that he did it well, well, that would have been too much.

Truth be told, he does a nice job as Dracula and this Dan Curtis TV movie is a pretty good adaptation of the classic story. According to IMDB, Jack Palance was asked multiple times to take on the role again and he always declined, so he obviously did something right here.

The film is nicely directed by Dan Curtis and written by horror master Richard Matheson so the pedigree here is quite strong and in fact the movie is really well done.  Curtis does seem to like his zooms as he uses that trick a lot and there is one curious moment where one of the characters seems to look directly into the camera and confirm with viewers that he has a month to spend locked up in his room. It was...odd. That said, there are some really lovely shots here and Curtis was able to get a really great performance from Palance.  He drew out this quiet intensity from him, that at times when he is baring his teeth betrays some animalistic intentions.

MPI has given us a nice 2k transfer from the original 35mm and it looks pretty good on blu-ray. It does have a nice grain to it with some vibrant colors.

The thing I love about these older vampire movies, Hammer films especially which this isn't, (and I have said this before) are the great set pieces. They always seem to take such care in bringing the world to life, especially when we're talking old castles. I love that stuff.

The disc has a few special features but nothing really too write home about. We get an alternate ending, some interviews, and a trailer.

This is a story we've all seen a thousand times but it is a story that so many of us still enjoy seeing. It's nice to discover a version that, while not perfect, is a well done adaptation with a unique performance from a legendary actor.

Dan Curtis' Dracula is available now.

7 out of 10 Wooden Stakes

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