Count Dracula


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Count Dracula (Television)

(pop culture)

Count Dracula (1977) was a made-for-television co-production of the British Broadcasting Company and American Public Television. It consisted of three 45-minute segments, and thus was the screen adaptation of Dracula with the longest running time.

Count Dracula began with Jonathan Harker saying goodbye to Mina Murray (now Lucy Westenra‘s sister), Lucy, and their mother. He traveled to Castle Dracula where he had his initial confrontation with Dracula (Louis Jourdan) and the three female vampire residents. He eventually escaped and returned to England. Lucy was engaged to Quincey P. Morris, now transformed from a Texan into a staff person at the American embassy in London. Once Dracula began his attack on Lucy, Dr. John Seward called Abraham Van Helsing to his assistance. Van Helsing arrived, as in the novel, as an elderly foreign expert. He taught the men that supernatural evil existed and that they must unite to fight it.

Lucy finally died, and her post-death activity convinced the men that Van Helsing was correct. They proceeded to Lucy’s tomb to finally kill her in one of the most graphic vampire death scenes to that point in time. With Harker back in England and married to Mina, Van Helsing built a united front to kill Dracula. Meanwhile Dracula attacked Mina and forced her to drink his blood. The attack made her a full partner in the final drive to kill the vampire.

In the final scenes, Van Helsing and Mina arrived at Castle Dracula only to confront the three women who call to Mina as their new sister. Van Helsing protected her before going into the castle to kill the women. The Gypsies who brought Dracula’s sleeping body back to the castle were fought off in a Western-style gunfight. The last Gypsy got the box to the entrance of the castle where he was stopped. In the end, it was Van Helsing, not the younger men, who pried open the lid of the box and killed Dracula with a stake. Count Dracula, even more than El Conde Dracula, relied on the story of Bram Stoker‘s novel. Only the more recent Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) would, for example, return all of the major characters in the novel to the movie story line. Count Dracula also raised the level of realism in the depiction of the vampire’s attack and the scenes of the vampire women attacking the baby in the early segment of the movie (which was cut from the American version). Count Dracula returned the essential scene in the novel, in which Dracula forced Mina to drink his blood, and the subsequent events in which she was branded with a eucharistic wafer. Louis Jourdan assumed the role of Dracula in this version. He brought to the part a suave, continental manner. He was an aristocratic lover, but a man used to getting what he wanted. He seduced women and took them away from the mundane gentlemen with whom they had been paired. Jourdan thus laid the groundwork for the sensual Dracula so effectively portrayed by Frank Langella in Dracula (1979).

Sources:

Holte, James Craig. Dracula in the Dark: The Dracula Film Adaptations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997. 161 pp.
Waller, Gregory A. The Living and the Undead: From Stoker’s Dracula to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1986. 376 pp.

The Count Dracula Society see: Vampire Fandom: United States

Count Ken Fan Club see: Vampire Fandom: United States