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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Count Dracula


     There have been countless film versions of the story of Count Dracula.  Unfortunately, very few have been memorable.  Of course, we have Bela Lugosi's immortal incarnation, closely followed by the great Christopher Lee.  But for the most part, bleh.  However, in 1977, the BBC offered up a version of Bram Stoker's classic that follows his story more than any other adaption, I think.  Louis Jordan portrays the legendary Count, and for the most part, delivers an all-around creepy and chilling performance.

      This marvelous production provides loads of scary atmosphere and quite a few startling images.  Some complain about how the interiors are shot on video and the exteriors shot on film, but I think it gives the whole thing a delicious, "Dark Shadows" vibe to the  fun and doesn't bother me one bit.  If you've ever actually read the novel by Bram Stoker on which all of this is based on, you'll find this BBC production to be by far the most accurate and faithful.  Many horror fans claim this is the definitive Dracula brought to life, so to speak, beating out all the other Hollywood productions.  Arguable, to be sure.  But Jordan does deliver a kick-ass performance.  And it's certainly in the Top 5 all-time portrayals of the Count.

     This is essential October viewing, and still remains one of the best visions of the immortal Count Dracula.  There is just something about this version... something haunting.  It takes a miminalist approach, and honestly, it works far better than Francis Ford Coppola's over-blown, big-budget version.  This production proves once again that you can do wonders with very little as long as you have imagination.  For instance, the scoreless scenes of the wind howling through the castle and the wolves howling outside are extremely effective and atmospheric.  I would have to say that this is the spookiest Count Dracula I've ever seen.  No disrespect to Lugosi or Lee here, but Jordan's Count Dracula is by far the scariest. The entire production is scary.  There is an underlying sense of dread that permeates this production- it really does get under your skin. So, if you want to experience the fog-drenched world of Transylvania pretty much as Bram Stoker himself imagined it, then this is the one for you.  "Count Dracula" is must-see viewing, and here is a taste of the lush terror that awaits you.

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