- Movie Rating -

Dracula (1979)

| July 20, 1979

With the production code safely gone, the 1970s became fertile ground for all manner of previously taboo content.  Nudity, violence, foul-language, scandalous situations – they are all on the table and every low-budget producer with a camera wanted to put something together just to feel his way.  This revolution fell on no genre quite like horror and insteps like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Exorcist, The Omen, Halloween and Alien put old reliable monsters like Dracula out to pasture.

That didn’t stop anyone from trying.  Christopher Lee was still showing up as Dracula even though his adventures were proving to be a little toothless.  The only way to bring Bram Stoker’s infamous bloodsucker in the modern era was to, well . . . bring him into the modern era.  The task fell to John Badham, hot off the success of Saturday Night Fever whose updating of Dracula was slick, sexy, and surprisingly modern.

Frank Langella possibly gives the most effective performance of Dracula since Bela Lugosi.  You can feel that this Dracula has experienced the oceans of time, lived dozens of lifetimes and loved more women then most men could ever dream.  He’s not the aged stiff here.  Langella’s Dracula is a creature that has lived long enough to know what sexy really is.  His performance stays just this side of parody.  He’s just serious enough to let us know that he’s not kidding the role but he overplays it just enough that we’re still smiling.

The only problem with this version of Dracula is that while the style and the character have been given a healthy upgrade, the story remains largely the same.  Drac years for his beloved Mina Harker.  Von Helsing knows what Drac is up to and intends to stop him no matter the stakes.  Laurence Olivier gives the exact same dottery old man performance as Van Helsing that he gave in The Boys From Brazil, A Little Romance and The Betsy.  It has gotten a little tired.

Still this is one of the best late-stage Dracula pictures, after the death of the Hammer pictures both in production and style.  Badham creates a film that is creepy, sexy, stylish and refreshingly up-to-date.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized