Dracula (1979)

UK, USA, 1979
109m
35mm film, “filmed in Panavision” (anamorphic), “colour by Technicolor”, 2.35:1
“Recorded in Dolby Stereo”, English

A British/American horror film directed by John Badham.

Plot Summary

The schooner Demeter is wrecked off the coast of Whitby and the only survivor is Transylvanian aristocrat Count Dracula who moves into Carfax Abbey. He befriends Dr Seward who runs a nearby asylum and is attracted to his daughter Lucy. But Dracula is a vampire and before long Lucy’s friend Mina is dead from massive blood loss and Lucy is behaving strangely. Can vampire expert Professor Abraham Van Helsing save the day?

Credits

Crew
Directed by: John Badham
© MCMLXXIX [1979] by Universal Pictures Limited
The Mirisch Corporation presents a Walter Mirisch/John Badham production
Executive Producer: Marvin E. Mirisch
Produced by: Walter Mirisch
Associate Producer: Tom Pevsner
Screenplay by: W.D. Richter
Based on the Play by: Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston
And the novel “Dracula” by: Bram Stoker
Director of Photography: Gilbert Taylor
Edited by: John Bloom
Music Composed and Conducted by: John Williams
Sound Mixer: Robin Gregory
Costume Designed by: Julie Harris
Make Up [Supervisor]: Peter Robb-King
Hair [Supervisor]: Colin Jamison
Special Effects [Supervisor]: Roy Arbogast
Models: Brian Smithies
Special Visual Effects: Albert Whitlock
Production Designed by: Peter Murton

Cast
Frank Langella (Dracula)
Laurence Olivier (Van Helsing)
Donald Pleasence (Seward)
Kate Nelligan (Lucy)
Trevor Eve (Harker)
Jan Francis (Mina)
Janine Duvitski (Annie)
Tony Haygarth (Renfield)
Teddy Turner (Swales)
Sylveste McCoy [real name: Sylvester McCoy] (Walter)
Kristine Howarth (Mrs Galloway)
Joe Belcher (Tom Hindley)
Ted Carroll (Scarborough sailor)
Frank Birch (harbourmaster)
Gabor Vernon (captain of Demeter)
Frank Henson (Demeter sailor)
Peter Wallis (priest)

Press

1979
Variety 4 July 1979 p.24
“Traditionalists may find fault, but director John Badham and Frank Langella pull off a handsome, moody rendition, more romantic than menacing, while tossing in enough gore for an R rating. […] Oddly enough. “Dracula” is one of those pictures that’s never really as good as it seems to be at any given moment and when it’s over is a lot worse the more you think about it. But that’s to Badham’s credit, proving he has the audience in his grip throughout. As he was on stage, Langella is the key in coming up with one more interpretation of the vampire out of hundreds previously presented. More humanly seductive, he’s terrific with the ladies and the men would like him well-enough if he weren’t so good-looking and arrogant. All in all, a swell chap who happens to drink too much. […] [T]he ending is far from satisfactory, with Langella seeming to die an agonizing death one moment and flitting away into the skies the next, presumably more interested in setting up the sequel than returning to the fray and keeping Nelligan for himself. There are, in fact, lots of oddities throughout, like why Langella keeps climbing up the sides of houses when he can fly. Also, though it certainly isn’t Badham’s fault, the picture is haunted throughout by recollections of the Dracula satire that’s currently in release. […] All of the photography, effects and setwork are excellent throughout, except for some psychedelic nonsense that doesn’t fit in. […] The result is a commercial triumph that won’t replace Universal’s 1931 version in the hearts of Dracula fans. But they won’t dare miss it.” – from a review by Har

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.46 no.548 (September 1979) p.195
“The new Dracula is a triumphantly lurid creation that seems bound to be either under-valued for its circus effects or over-valued for the stylishness with which it steers between the reefs of camp and theatrical indulgence. […] Where the film does score […] is in the scenes which, instead of re-interpreting Dracula, simply cross him with other movie myths: Frank Langella effectively plays the Count as some super-charismatic matinee idol, his smouldering eyes barely giving him away with a demented flicker when a footman cuts his finger; a dinner-table sequence develops delightfully from nervous chat about the meaning of ‘nosferatu’ to a Valentino-ish seduction as Dracula dances Lucy off her feet and Jonathan jealously looks on. For the rest, the film justifies its profusion of effects by displaying them with a naivety that cancels their vulgarity […] In between its good, clean blood-and-thunder, Dracula’s plot occasionally shows very threadbare, and its other defects include the most unprepossessing Jonathan Harker yet and a ponderously accented Van Helsing from Laurence Olivier. But if it stirs no contemporary frisson (despite Lucy’s Women’s Lib attitudes) from this much raked-over myth, Dracula does manage to titillate with its tongue-in-cheek romanticism and (often despite itself, it seems) to amuse.” – from a review by Richard Combs

References

Periodicals

  • American Cinematographer vol.60 no.6 (June 1979) pp.566-569, 621-624 – illustrated interview with John Badham
  • Cinefantastique vol.9 no.1 (Autumn 1979) pp.41-42 – illustrated review
  • Fangoria no.164 (July 1997) pp.68-73, 82 – illustrated interview with John Badham (When Dracula rose again by Tom Weaver)
  • Fangoria no.239 (January 2005) pp.54-55 – illustrated DVD review (DVD Dungeon by M.K. [Matthew Kiernan])
  • Fantasynopsis no.4 pp.33-37 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Film Review vol.29 no.10 (October 1979) pp.24-25 – review
  • Film Score Monthly vol.3 no.9 (October/November 1998) pp.46-47 – DVD review (Hallowe’en horrors by Andy Dursin)
  • Films and Filming vol.25 no.12 (September 1979) pp.9-11, 36-38 – illustrated preview, review
  • Films in Review vol.30 no.8 (October 1979) pp.484-486 – soundtrack review
  • Films in Review vol.30 no.10 (December 1979) pp.577-599 – illustrated biography, filmography (Laurence Olivier: The Man and His Films by DeWitt Bodeen)
  • Flesh and Blood no.5 (September 1995) p.48, 49 – illustrated credits, review (1979 by Julian Grainger and John Hamilton)
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.253 no.43 (24 October 1978) p.10 – credits
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.46 no.548 (September 1979) p.195 – credits, synopsis, review (by Richard Combs)
  • New Musical Express 1 September 1979 p.21 – illustrated review (Silver screen: Drac’s back by Neil Norman)
  • Screen International no.161 (21 October 1978) p.102 – note
  • Screen International no.162 (28 October 1978) pp.16-17 – credits
  • Screen International no.173 (20 January 1979) p.15 – article
  • Screen International no.205 (1 September 1979) p.24 – review
  • Screen International no.229 (23 February-1 March 1980) p.4 – illustrated letter (Dracula’ lacks bite from R. Green)
  • The Tomb of Dracula no.1 (October 1979) pp.48-52 – illustrated article (The newest Dracula by Jason Thomas)
  • Variety 4 July 1979 p.24 – credits, review (by Har)

Books

  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.335 – credits, review
  • Cinematic Vampires by John L. Flynn pp.204-208
  • Count Dracula Goes to the Movies: Stoker’s Novel Adapted (3rd Edition) by Lyndon W. Joslin pp.101-109 – credits, synopsis production notes, review
  • Dracula in the Dark: The Dracula Film Adaptations by James Craig Holte pp.77-82, 117 – note
  • Dracula in Visual Media: Film, Television, Comic Book and Electronic Game Appearances, 1921-2010 by John Edgar Browning and Caroline Joan (Kay) Picart pp.66-67 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Encyclopedia of Novels Into Films second edition by John C. Tibbetts and James M. Welsh pp.105-109 – illustrated credits, review (by J.C.T. [John C. Tibbetts])
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.273
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.359
  • Hoffman’s Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.112 – credits, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.108-109 – credits
  • Horror Films of the 1970s by John Kenneth Muir pp.598-601 – credits, synopsis, review
  • The Illustrated Vampire Movie Guide by Stephen Jones p.72 – credits, review
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Sequels, Series, and Remakes by Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester p.153-155 – illustrated credits, review
  • Screen World vol.31 (1980) by John Willis p.55 – illustrated credits
  • Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between by Gary A. Smith pp.190-195; 208 – illustrated review; credits
  • The Vampire in Science Fiction Film and Literature by Paul Meehan p.161