Count Dracula
Directed by Jesús Franco
Produced by Harry Alan Towers
Arturo Marcos
Written by Jesús Franco
Harry Alan Towers
Bram Stoker
Based on Dracula by
Bram Stoker
Starring Christopher Lee
Klaus Kinski
Maria Rohm
Herbert Lom
Fred Williams
Soledad Miranda
Jack Taylor
Paul Müller
Music by Bruno Nicolai
Release date(s) 1969
Running time 98 min / UK:97 min. / Sweden:91 min.
Country West Germany & Italy & Spain & Liechtenstein
Language English

Count Dracula (German: Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht, At Night, When Dracula Awakens, Spanish: El Conde Dracula) is a European horror film, directed by Jesús Franco and based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Although Count Dracula stars Christopher Lee in the title role, it is not a Hammer production like his other Dracula films, but was produced by Harry Alan Towers. Klaus Kinski, who would play Dracula himself nine years later in Nosferatu the Vampyre, is also featured in the film. Count Dracula was advertised as the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel.[1] Among other details, it was the first film version of the novel in which Dracula begins as an old man and becomes younger as he feeds upon fresh blood.

Count Dracula was released also in Italy as Il conte Dracula in Spain as El Conde Drácula, and in France as Les Nuits de Dracula.

Cast Edit

Plot summaryEdit

The film starts with a shot of Count Dracula's castle and the following text

Over fifty years ago, Bram Stoker wrote the greatest of all horror stories. Now, for the first time, we retell exactly as he wrote, one of the first — and still the best — tales of the macabre.

Jonathan Harker, a lawyer traveling from London to Transylvania to secure property for Count Dracula, arrives at Bistritz to stay for the night. There, he is warned by a concerned lady against continuing his journey the following day. Harker believes that her concerns are rooted in peasant superstition. He ignores her, but starts to feel increasingly unnerved by the way everyone looks at him. Harker sets off for the rest of his journey and arrives at the Borgo Pass where he's picked up by the Count's mysterious coachman.

Harker debarks at Castle Dracula, and the coach immediately rushes off. Somewhat hesitantly, Harker approaches the main door, whereupon a thin, tall, gaunt old man opens it. Harker asks, "Count Dracula?" "I am Dracula, enter freely and of your own will," says the man at the door. Dracula takes Harker to his bedchamber where Harker notices that Dracula casts no reflection.

Later, Harker goes to sleep, but wakes up only to find himself in an ancient crypt where he is seduced by three beautiful vampiresses. An enraged Dracula rushes into the room and orders them to leave Harker alone. Dracula explains, "This man belongs to me," then gives the vampiresses a baby to feed on. Harker wakes up screaming in his room and assumes it was a nightmare, but two small wounds on his neck say otherwise.

Harker soon comes to realise he's now a prisoner and tries to escape by climbing out of his bedroom window. He finds his way back to the crypt where he finds Count Dracula and his three brides in coffins. Harker runs out of the crypt, screaming in horror and jumps out of the castle's tower into the river below.

Harker wakes up once more, finding himself a patient in a private psychiatric clinic in the outskirts of London, owned by one Dr. Van Helsing, in the care of Dr. Seward. He is told he has been found delirious in a river near Budapest and, naturally, no one believes him about what happened at Castle Dracula until Van Helsing finds the two punctures on Harker's neck. Harker's fiancée Mina and her close friend Lucy also arrive at the hospital to help take care of him. Unbeknownst to them, Count Dracula has followed Harker back to England and now resides in an abandoned abbey close to the hospital.

As Mina nurses Harker back to health, her friend Lucy's health strangely declines. Dracula has been secretly appearing to her by night and drinking her blood, growing younger as he feeds off his victim. Quincey Morris, Lucy's fiancé, joins Drs. Seward and Van Helsing in an attempt to save Lucy by giving her a blood transfusion from Quincey.

One of the patients at the lunatic asylum becomes of considerable interest to the men; R. M. Renfield, who is classed as a zoophagus. He eats flies and insects in order to consume their life, believing that with each life he consumes he gains that life. He also seems to act violently whenever Dracula is around.

Lucy eventually dies while her men helplessly look on. As Van Helsing suspected, Lucy has become one of the undead and murders a young child, but the ordeal is put to an end when Quincey, Seward and Van Helsing ambush Lucy in her tomb, stake her through the heart and decapitate her. Harker, now in full health, comes around and joins the group who now are sure that Count Dracula is their vampire.

Dracula then turns his attention to Mina and begins corrupting her as well. Around this time, Van Helsing suddenly has a stroke and remains in a wheelchair. Dracula visits the weakened man, mocking his attempts to destroy him. Quincey, Harker and Seward track Dracula to an abandoned abbey, only to find out he has fled back to Transylvania with the aid of a traveling Gypsy band.

As Count Dracula's Gypsy servants take him back to his castle, he is trailed by Harker and Quincey. After battling the Gypsies, the two heroes find Dracula's coffin and set it on fire. Dracula, unable to save himself due to the sun still being up, is consumed by flames.

Critical reactionEdit

Brett Cullum of DVD Verdict wrote, "For curious Dracula fans, Jess Franco's Count Dracula is a neat find. It's a stellar cast working under a low budget, and it comes off entertaining if not a classic. It's a B-movie treatment at best, but ... Lee comes off fiery and committed to making this Count one that will be noticed."[2] Brian Lindsey of Eccentric Cinema wrote, "Upon weighing [the film's] pros and cons, Count Dracula emerges a substantially flawed film. But I can still recommend it to any fan of Lee, Franco, Miranda, and even of Stoker's novel."[3] George R. Reis of DVD Drive-In wrote, "Count Dracula is flawed in many ways, but for fans of gothic horror, it’s still irresistible ... Barcelona naturally allows for some truly handsome scenery and an appropriate castle for Dracula to dwell in, and the performances of the international cast are above average."[4]

Shawn McLoughlin of DVD In My Pants wrote, "The production values aren’t stellar, and the imagery is stolen right out of the Hammer films, but all the actors bring their stuff to the table and it all works out together in the end."[5] Dave Sindelar of Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings wrote, "All in all, this is an acceptable movie (both as a Franco movie and as an adaptation of the novel), but not a particularly great one on either level."[6] Dracula scholar Leslie S. Klinger said "the picture begins well, closely following the Stoker narrative account of Harker's encounter with Dracula. The film rapidly proceeds into banality, however, and except for the characterization of Lee as an older Dracula and the brilliant Kinski, the film is largely forgettable."[7]

DVD releasesEdit

Count Dracula was released on DVD in 2007 by Dark Sky Films. Special features include an interview with director Jesús Franco, a reading of Bram Stoker's Dracula novel by Christopher Lee, and a text essay on the life of actress Soledad Miranda.[2] The DVD has come under criticism for omitting the scene in which a distraught mother pleads for her baby's life at the door of Dracula's castle.[3] The DVD also uses the Italian credits for the film but with the French title card Les Nuits de Dracula.


External linksEdit

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