Bram Stoker's Dracula (1973 film)
Dracula, also known as Bram Stoker's Dracula and Dan Curtis' Dracula, is a 1974 British made-for-television horror film and adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula. It was written by Richard Matheson and directed by Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis, with Jack Palance in the title role. It was the second collaboration for Curtis and Palance after the TV film The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968 film).
"Bistritz, Hungary May 1897": natives in Transylvania seem afraid when they learn solicitor Jonathan Harker is going to Castle Dracula. Jonathan finds the Count abrupt and impatient to get things done. Dracula reacts very strongly to a photograph of Harker's fiancée Mina and her best friend Lucy. After preventing his brides from devouring Harker, he forces the young solicitor to write a letter saying that he will be staying in Transylvania for a month. Harker climbs down the castle wall and finds Dracula's coffin, but is attacked and knocked out by one of Dracula's gypsy servants before he can stake Dracula. They later throw him in the lower levels of the crypt, where the brides attack him again.
The Demeter runs aground carrying only Dracula and the dead captain lashed to the wheel. Soon after, Lucy begins to fall ill. Her fiancé, Arthur Holmwood, is perplexed and calls in Dr. Van Helsing. The doctor begins to recognize what might be happening, especially after Lucy walks out of her home at Hillingham and is found, drained of blood, under a tree the next morning. Dracula has flashbacks of his wife - of whom Lucy is the spitting image - on her deathbed centuries earlier.
Lucy's mother is in the room with Mina when Dracula comes calling the last time, a wolf shattering the window. Lucy soon rises from the dead, and comes to the window of Arthur's home, begging to be let in. Arthur does so, delighted and amazed that she's alive, unaware that she is now a vampire under Dracula's control. This very nearly gets him bitten, but Van Helsing interrupts with a cross causing her to flee. They go to Lucy's grave and drive a wooden stake into her heart. When Dracula comes to the tomb later and beckons to her, he goes berserk upon finding that she's truly dead.
Mina tells Van Helsing about the news story about the Demeter and the boxes of earth, and about Jonathan going to meet Dracula to sell him a house. From these clues, Van Helsing and Holmwood go about finding all but one of Dracula's "boxes of earth" (containing his native soil, in which a vampire must rest). But back at the hotel, the vampire hunters discover Dracula is there seeking revenge. He has bitten Mina, and before their eyes forces her to drink blood from a self-inflicted gash in his chest. All that they love, all that is theirs, he will take, he says.
The tracking of Dracula back to his home commences with Van Helsing Hypnosis|hypnotizing Mina. Via the bond of blood, she sees through Dracula's eyes and discovers where he is headed. At the castle, Van Helsing and Holmwood find and stake the brides. Jonathan, now a rabid and bloodthirsty vampire, attacks Arthur and Van Helsing, but in the struggle is knocked by Arthur into a pit of spikes and killed. The final confrontation with Dracula takes place in what looks like a grand ballroom. The crosses wielded by the two men are something Dracula doesn't seem to want to look upon. Dracula gets the better of them, ridding them of their crosses. Van Helsing pulls down the window curtains and sunlight pours in. Dracula is weakened, finally going dormant long enough for Van Helsing to pierce his heart with a long spear.
They leave him there. Before the portrait of a living warrior Dracula, with Lucy's lookalike in the background, a text scrolls across the screen, about a warlord who lived in the area of Hungary known as Transylvania, and how it was said he had found a way to conquer death—a legend no one has ever disproven.
- Jack Palance as Count Dracula / Vlad III the Impaler
- Simon Ward as Arthur Holmwood
- Nigel Davenport as Abraham Van Helsing
- Fiona Lewis as Lucy Westenra / Maria, Dracula's deceased wife
- Murray Brown as Jonathan Harker
- Penelope Horner as Mina Murray
- Pamela Brown as Mrs. Westenra
- Sarah Douglas as one of Dracula's wives
- Virginia Wetherell as one of Dracula's wives
- Barbara Lindley as one of Dracula's wives
- George Pravda as Innkeeper
- Hana Maria Pravda as Innkeeper's wife
- Reg Lye as Zookeeper
- John Pennington as shipping clerk
Dan Curtis decided to film Bram Stoker's Dracula in two locations: Yugoslavia, where there were old castles and quiet land, and England, where the remainder of the story is set.
The initial broadcast in October 1973 was pre-empted for an address by Richard Nixon on the resignation of Spiro Agnew. Instead it was broadcast in February 1974. American network CBS took advantage of the successful release of director Francis Ford Coppola's identically titled adaptation, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), to rebroadcast the film on 28 November 1992 (two weeks after Coppola's film opened).
According to the featurette on the DVD for the Movie, Jack Palance was offered the role of Dracula several more times after his first performance, but he turned them all down.
The original title was Bram Stoker's Dracula. The film was also released under that title on VHS and Laserdisc. Francis Ford Coppola and Columbia Pictures purchased the rights to that title in the early 1990s. Coppola wanted to make it clear that his Dracula movie was unlike any other Dracula movie before it. Coppola's film also takes inspiration from the two key elements in Curtis's film that separated it from other adaptations: making the Dracula character and the historical Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, one and the same person, and a reincarnation romance with Dracula's dead wife (which in this movie was Lucy, instead of Mina as in Coppola's movie). Nearly all home video releases of Curtis's film have since been released under the title Dan Curtis' Dracula or simply Dracula.
The Marvel Comics series The Tomb of Dracula features a Dracula whose appearance was based on Jack Palance. Palance had at that point yet to play Dracula and Tomb of Dracula artists Gene Colan got the idea from Palance's performance in Dan Curtis' The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which he appeared in 1968.