COUNT DRACULA (1970) Review by Steve Kirkham

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COUNT DRACULA (1970)

3 stars
88 Films. UHD and Blu ray. Out Now

It never ceases to amaze me which films are starting to turn up in beautiful 4K presentations – I certainly never thought Jesus Franco’s COUNT DRACULA would be given the stellar treatment … and yet here it is.

This is a new 4K remaster from the original negative and is a nicely colourful rendition with deep reds and blues, showing off the sumptuous cinematography by Manuel Merino and Luciano Trasatti.

Working with a bigger budget than normal – thanks to producer Harry Alan Towers – Franco presents a supposedly accurate adaptation of Stoker’s famous novel. Whilst that may be stretching a point, it does give Christopher Lee his long cherished opportunity to play the character of the vampiric bloodsucker as depicted in the book, complete with moustache and starting out grey haired and gradually getting younger.

Beyond that this is one of Franco’s better films – and yes he did make good movies, honest he did – though it still betrays some budgetary constraints… the silhouetted bat on a string rivals the best of Hammer!

With Herbert Lom as Van Helsing (in scenes shot separately from Lee) and Klaus Kinski as fly eating (for real apparently) Renfield (shot in a different country), this was also the first Franco film with Soledad Miranda – whose life was tragically cut short in 1970 in a car accident.

If you are a fan then this is the definitive presentation – with bucketloads of extras on the Blu ray (the UHD has the commentaries and trailers).

Extras – 4 stars

3 commentaries to keep you busy – Kim Newman and Sean Hogan, Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson, David Del Valle and Maria Rohm

Bloodsucker: David Pirie on Count Dracula (23 mins) where he talks about the novel and the various films – Lugosi, Hammer, Lee playing Dracula for them and working for Franco alongside Lom and Kinski

Dracula in the South (33 mins). Interview with film historian Troy Howarth where he talks about Lee’s career, covering his films in Europe. A good overview apart from the audio for Howarth which sounds like it was recorded in a toilet. This also has Sergio Martino talking about Mario Bava and Lamberto Bava talking about Lee and his father plus Ernesto Gastaldi (writer of Whip and the Body etc)

An illustrated with clips and stills audio interview with Lee (19 mins) conducted by Donald F. Glut where they cover his role in Count Dracula plus Cuadecuc Vampir, the experimental film shot at the same time. Plus the Lee documentary In Search of Dracula about real and filmic vampires, Vlad the Impaler etc

Beloved Count (26 mins): an interview with Franco talking about his relationship with Lee, Harry Alan Towers, Kinski, Lom and Miranda.

Interviews with Fred Williams (26 mins) and Jack Taylor (10 mins)

Stake Holders (7 mins): an appreciation of the film from filmmaker Christophe Gans

A great 45 minute overview of the film by the always thorough Stephen Thrower

Stephen Thrower talking to Alain Petit (6 mins) about Petit meeting Lee

Alternate Title Sequence and Trailer