El Conde Dracula

El Conde Dracula

(pop culture)

El Conde Dracula (1970) is a Spanish-language movie version of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula made by popular director Jesus Franco. Franco built on the popularity of Hammer Films’ horror movies and lured Hammer star Christopher Lee to play the title role. Lee saw it as an opportunity to play the character as it was described in the original novel (rather than the Hamilton Deane/John Balderston stage version), the only exceptions being that there were no hairy palms or elongated ears and fingers. With all of its shortcomings, Lee felt it to be the most faithful to Stoker of any films to that time. Franco opened with Jonathan Harker‘s (not R. N. Renfield‘s) trip to Transylvania. He returned to the film the final race to Transylvania with its fatal confrontation with Dracula in his castle. While making a noticeable attempt to add previously missing elements from the novel, in many significant ways El Conde Dracula deviated significantly in much the same manner as previous Dracula movies.

Following Jonathan’s initial encounter with Dracula, he returned to England and was treated in Abraham Van Helsing‘s private clinic, where Dr. John Seward worked as a mere employee. Dracula appeared and attacked Lucy Westenra to the alarm of her fiancé Quincey P. Morris, here an English nobleman rather than a Texan. Lucy’s fiancé from the novel, Arthur Holmwood, did not appear. Unable to save Lucy, Van Helsing and Morris ended her vampiric life with a stake and decapitation. The men invaded Dracula’s estate where they encountered a set of stuffed animals that came alive, presumably at Dracula’s command, and eventually drove Dracula away with a crucifix. Before returning to Transylvania, Dracula attacked Mina Murray on two occasions. The second time, in the clinic, Van Helsing drove him off by burning a cross in the floor with a poker from the room’s fireplace. Before he died, the madman Renfield gave them the clue where to find the fleeing Dracula, and Harker and Morris set out to look for him. They entered Castle Dracula and killed the three female residents and then drove off the Gypsies protecting the body of Dracula asleep in his crate of earth. They killed him by setting him on fire and tossing him onto the rocks below the castle.

Waller noted that Franco saw El Conde Dracula as a confrontation between youth and age. Lucy, Mina, Jonathan, and Quincey were of one generation and Van Helsing and Dracula of another. Van Helsing, the major voice of maturity, informed the young men of Dracula’s true nature, but was pushed aside because of his own knowledge in the black arts. In the end, Van Helsing was left behind as the strong and youthful men journeyed to Transylvania to destroy Dracula. Franco’s El Conde Dracula was released in English versions as Count Dracula and as Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula.


Holte, James Craig. Dracula in the Dark: The Dracula Film Adaptations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997.
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 Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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Meanwhile, a pounds 50 cheque is on its way to Dorothy Guthrie, of Edinburgh, who informs me that the unique feature of Christopher Lee's portrayal of Dracula in El Conde Dracula (1970) was that he sported a moustache.