Any adaptation of Dracula will always be one removed from the original, because the original is an epistolary(told through journal entries, letters, and that kind of thing). So when Dracula is adapted, one is forced to interpret, and usually those are quite different than the novel. Sometimes this ends up good, like with both versions of Nosferatu. Other times it's mangled, like most of the 1931 version or Coppola's pretty debacle.The most usual thing is for Lucy and Mina to either be switched or merged, and Quincy Morris and Arthur Holmwood are either eliminated or, as in this version, merged.
This one manages to be closer to Stoker than any other version. And is quite scary. Also kind of hot. This film has been somewhat of an obsession for me since I was a kid. You may disagree, but for me, this is the best non-Nosferatu version of Dracula.
It's BBC 1970s, which means it's film outside, video inside. But like many, I think horror works better when it looks cheaper, and in any event they do a fantastic job with the means they have. I certainly prefer it to the American-clean way a lot of BBC looks now. And I actually like the cheesy video effects too. Also excellent are Frank Finlay as Van Helsing, Judi Bowker as Mina, Jack Shepherd as the best Renfield since Dwight Frye--and maybe better--and my first movie crush, the incredibly sexy Susan Penhaligon as Lucy Westenra. To this day I have a thing for chokers or ribbons about the neck thanks to her in this, which is why I draw them so often on women. Quincy is played with the worst American accent you've ever heard, but try to look past that. (as well as the Portuguese subtitles, unless you speak it, in which case, bonus!)
Here's the score, which makes heavy use of not a theremin, but a different early electronic instrument called the Ondes Martenot, which Radiohead fans might recall as an instrument Jonny Greenwood is very fond of. You start hearing it about 0:45 in--it's a bit like a theremin in that it sounds like it's singing, but in a much warmer way. After is the full film.
"Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all of his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me & this pencil." --E. Blackadder, 1789 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson