Jack Palance brings a brooding intensity and snarling animal ferocity to the role of Dracula that totally works; Palance's fierce and intimidating vampire is both quite forceful and genuinely frightening (the scenes with Dracula using his superhuman strength against fragile mortals are especially potent and unsettling). Director Dan Curtis, working from an intelligent and absorbing script by Richard Matheson, relates the involving story at a steady pace, vividly evokes the flavorsome 19th century Victorian period setting, and stages the exciting climax with real flair. Moreover, the tip-top cast all contribute fine performances: Nigel Davenport makes for a restrained, believable, and authoritative Van Helsing, the ravishing Fiona Lewis impresses as the frail, doomed Lucy (in a surprisingly moving and inspired touch, she's the reincarnation of Dracula's past lover), plus there are sound turns by Simon Ward as the concerned Arthur, Penelope Horner as the sweet, vulnerable Mina, and Murray Brown as the likable, ill-fated Jonathan Harker. Virginia Wetherell, Barbara Lindley, and Sarah Douglas are pretty sexy and scary as Dracula's deadly, yet delectable vampire brides. Oswald Morris' lush cinematography boasts several graceful fades and a few nifty tilted camera angles. Bob Cobert's spirited shuddery score hits the spine-tingling spot. While not exactly a definitive adaptation of Stoker's book (the gloriously unhinged Renfield alas is nowhere to be seen), but still worth watching all the same.
Dracula is searching for a woman who looks like his long dead wife.
March 21, 2020