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Dracula (1974)
Movie Review by The Gravedigger

Dracula (1974) Jonathan Harker travels to Castle Dracula to sell the Count (Jack Palance) property in England. Dracula sees a photo he brought, which includes his fiance and her friend, Lucy Westenra. It turns out that she's the reincarnation of the woman he loved in the 1400's. He then informs Harker that he's to be a guest for a month--and locks him in his guest room. Harker escapes and explores the castle, coming across Dracula's coffin and a painting of him from the 1400's. Then, he turns around and there are the three vampire women. As they bare fangs and go to attack him Dracula comes in and saves him. He forces Harker to write a letter to his employer and to his fiance, saying he won't be returning to England for a while. He renders the man unconscious, when he tries to argue. Harker awakens in the morning, explores some more and comes across Dracula sleeping in his coffin. His groundskeepers prevent Harker from putting a shovel through him. Harker wakes up again, now faced with the same hungry vampire women...

Five weeks later, a ship with only one dead body tied to the wheel, washes ashore in England and we see Dracula on the beach. Weeks later, Lucy Westenra is sleep walking and looking very pale. Her fiance is concerned about the wound in her throat. Dr. Van Helsing is called in and he suspects a vampire. When Dracula summons her we see that he doesn't want to feed on her but can't help himself. He's torn.The next morning, her boyfriend and the doctor find her outside, barely alive. They give her a transfusion. Later, the Count releases a wolf from the zoo and sends it after the fiance, who manages to shoot it before he passes out. This is all a distraction while Dracula goes for Lucy. They find her dead, tears running down her cheeks. That night she comes back from the dead and tries to attack her boyfriend. Van Helsing comes in, just in time. During the day they go to her grave and run a stake through her heart. At night Dracula goes to her grave and is heartbroken when he finds her dead. He becomes enraged--and leaves England.

The showdown happens back at his castle in Transylvania--where they encounter poor Harker, who is now a vampire. And although the "good guys" win, it's a let-down. I find Jack Palance's DRACULA as vicious as Christopher Lee's, but he's still a sympathetic character because Van Helsing (Nigel Davenport) is portrayed as such an asshole. And, of course, if you're a fan of Barnabas from DARK SHADOWS you'll love this since Dan Curtis basically uses the reincarnation story from his own series. I clearly remember watching this when it premiered on CBS in the 70's--and it remains one of my favorite versions of the Dracula story. Also known as Dan Curtis' Dracula and Bram Stoker's Dracula.

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