Count Dracula (1969) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Jess Franco
Starring: Christopher Lee, Soledad Miranda, Herbert Lom, Maria Rohm, Klaus Kinski, Fred Williams
Rated: UR/Region A/1:33/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Severin Films
In 1970, cult director Jess Franco and screen legend Christopher Lee collaborated on what they promised would be the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel ever filmed. From its remarkable performances – including Lee as the Count, Herbert Lom (MARK OF THE DEVIL) as Van Helsing, Soledad Miranda (VAMPYROS LESBOS) as Lucy, Maria Rohm (VENUS IN FURS) as Mina, and authentic madman Klaus Kinski as Renfield – to its lush locations and atmosphere of sinister sensuality, it remains perhaps the most spellbinding version of Dracula in movie history. Fred Williams (SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY) and Paul Muller (NIGHTMARE CASTLE) co-star in this “thrilling” (Twins Of Evil) and “fascinating” (Arrow In The Head) horror classic, now fully restored, loaded with all-new Bonus Features, and re-mastered in high-definition for the first time ever.
Jess Franco remains a bit of a mystery to me. I think I’ve seen a good chunk of his stuff by this point, with mixed results. You get many different forms of Franco, from the sleazy to the more straight forward and I’ll admit that overall, I think I’ve yet to see the appeal. Still I went into his Count Dracula with high hopes. Knowing Christopher Lee is Dracula in something will do that to you. I sit to watch this one and I waited for something to happen to keep me interested, but I just don’t know if that moment ever really came. The movie is basically a re-telling of most Dracula stories you’ve seen on-screen. The only difference this time is Jess Franco directed it, you have Christopher Lee as Dracula, and we get a number of other familiar faces in roles. Only I don’t think anyone ever really achieves much in those roles other than just being there and sleepwalker through their performances. I’ve never been much of a fan of those sleazy Franco films, but if any movie could have used that sorta thing, it was this one.
While I’m sure the movie looks the best it has ever looked, it still isn’t that great looking. I mean, yes, when the camera is up-close on someone it looks great, and that could be said if a scene gets a lot of light. The thing is, most of the movie is pretty dark and that sort of kills any detail in the scene in question. Like I said, the transfer has its moments and I’m sure it has never looked better, but it isn’t eye-popping most the time either. So, if you are a hardcore fan of Jess Franco, Christopher Lee, or just want to try to get all the Dracula movies you can on Blu-ray, then I’m sure this one will be something you’ll be interested in. If you are just stumbling upon it and wanting to give it a watch, then you may be a bit underwhelmed by what you get with this release right here.
– Uncut Feature in HD (Includes Controversial Previously Deleted Baby Scene) at Franco’s Approved Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
– CUADECUC, VAMPIR (1970): Experimental ‘Making Of’ Feature By Pere Portabella
– Audio Commentary with horror historian David Del Valle and Actress Maria Rohm
– Beloved Count Interview with Director Jess Franco
– An Interview With Actor Jack Taylor
– ‘Handsome Harker’ Interview With Actor Fred Williams
– ‘Stake Holders’ An Appreciation By Filmmaker Christophe Gans
– German Trailer
Quality of Transfer: 70%