Movie Review: Dracula (1979)

I’m only watching this one because it’s got Laurence Olivier  in it, and I feel like I need to get a Dracula movie in for this Halloween and the only other (color) option I have is the one with Keaneu Reeves in it, and it’s too early to drink. I’ve heard rumors.
John Williams did the score? I got Dr Loomis in this one as well? Bonus!

A storm is throwing a ship about, and tosses it up on shore. A woman runs down to the shore and finds an injured man. The next day Johnathan Harker salvages the cargo and find it odd that there are just crates of dirt among the wreckage. Meanwhile Dr Loomis is head of an insane asylum. dracula-1979-still
I have no idea if this is the house of a thousand maniacs but that would be awesome if you get the reference. Moving on, we get some argument about salvage rights that goes nowhere, but soon Dracula is at a dinner party, where the woman from the beginning Mina and a few other people. Dracula meets Lucy, the daughter of Loomis and  Jonathan Harker’s fiancee. This Dracula is the first time I’ve seen Frank Langella with non-grey hair, I love this dude, and in this role he is SERIOUSLY channeling Christopher Lee. I’m serious.
That night, Dracula shows up in Mina’s room and does a lil nibbling. The next day, Mina dies as she can’t breathe.

Not quite sure how Loomis was going to save her by yelling “Breathe” and slapping her. I know slapping the back is part of the process for clearing a blockage, but I must have missed where you slap them across the face.

Lawrence Olivier FINALLY shows up as Van Helsing is Mina’s dad. The meeting of Dracula and Olivier should be more epic to be honest with you. With it being over Mina’s grave it’s almost a letdown. Mina has risen, and she kills a baby. In the 70’s? That’s some Roe vs Wade stuff there.

Dracula and Lucy have some . . . uh, alone time before a red spinning wheel. I guess that is supposed to be how Dracula turned her.

Dracula and Van Helsing confront each other, but Van Helsing has a cross and is able to fend off Dracula. This Dracula does have the stare down to a T. Lucy is totally in the thrall of Dracula. Do they have enough time to stop Dracula before Lucy becomes a vampire and goes back to Romania?

So how is this version of Dracula?

dracula-79-lucyThis is a fairly simple version, the director really has an eye out for the 1931 Dracula version, even going so far as to almost move to Black and White to show the starkness of the scene. Whenever Dracula is on the screen with one of the ladies, you get that vision, and a good splash of red if at all possible. Some of these scenes run a really long time, and it can either make it prettier- or boring.

That problem does tend to run through the entire movie. We get a good run, then a fairly rough run. I do think this is a worthy version to watch, if you like the 70s type of psychedelic movies. Frank Langella has his working boots on and to be honest, without his performance, or if he pushed too far, then this film could have a serious problem. I was a bit disappointed with Laurence Olivier’s performance, but Olivier at 80% is better than most actors giving everything, especially in a horror movie. I’ll go 6 here. I can’t see bothering with going out of your way to watch this one, but if you see it on the schedule, and you like Dracula, throw it up there. There are FAR worse adaptations.

One bit o note on the end, but a quick warning.

So they hoist Dracula up into the sun, and he waves around and finally dies. Or whatever Vampires do. Then he hangs around for a bit, then the cape flies off. Again in the sunlight, doesn’t hit the water, or go down where it’s dark, just flies around the sky and credits. Lucy is lying there in the ship, and when she sees the cape, she gives a little smile. It’s pretty interesting ending, but it really dings the movie. So Laurence Olivier is dead, Loomis is next to useless, Mina is dead, and Dracula is still OK? Lucy is still in thrall? The ship is done, so it’s going back to England, Dracula is not flying all the way to Romania- he has to go back to what dirt is left that doesn’t have the vanilla wafers in it. The day after this movie, Dracula is killing everyone and STILL taking Lucy home with him.

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