Film, video and television productions based on the novel by Bram Stoker:
Originally Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (German)
Director F.W. Murnau; writer Henrik Galeen; featuring Max Shreck
English and Spanish versions of film. English: director Tod Browning; writers Hamilton Deane, John L. Balderston,; variably featuring Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan. Spanish: director George Melford; writ. Hamilton Deane, John L. Balderston, Baltasar Fernández Cué; featuring Carlos Villarías, Lupita Tovar, Pablo Álvarez Rubio
Three films variably featuring Gloria Holden, Otto Kruger, Edward Van Sloan, Lon Chaney Jr., Robert Paige, John Carradine, Onslow Stevens, Glenn Strange
Also called Dracula
Director Terence Fisher; writer Jimmy Sangster; featuring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough
Three films variably featuring Peter Cushing, David Peel, Yvonne Monlaur, Martita Hunt, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Keir, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson
Director John Badham; writer Hamilton Deane, John L. Balderston, W.D. Richter; featuring Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasance, Kate Nelligan
Two films. 1979: director Stan Dragoti, featuring George Hamilton, Richard Benjamin. 1995: director Mel Brooks, featuring Leslie Neilsen, Steve Weber, Mel Brooks, Harvey Korman
Also called Dracula
Director Francis Ford Coppola; writer Jame V. Hart; featuring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Cary Elwes, Tom Waits
Director E. Elias Merhige; writer Steven Katz; featuring John Malkovich, Willem Defoe, Udo Kier, Cary Elwes
Director Patrick Lussier; writer Joel Soission, Lussier; featuring Gerard Butler, Christopher Plummer, Jonny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Jeri Ryan
Frank Langella marks the return of the romantic Dracula in 1979.
Dracula, my love
The major Dracula movies that started coming out in the latter 1900s are quite different than those that went before. While the early Universal films were gothic horror flicks and the Hammer films brought more intelligence to the genre, later films would try with varying success to delve psychologically into what lies behind the horror.
The joint U.S.-British production of Dracula in 1979, for example, obviously sees it as a story of romantic possession. The iconic shot in this film is of a dashing, young Frank Langella, hair and cape streaming behind him, breaking into the bedroom of his female victim for an evening of passionate and bloody love.
In some ways this can be seen as an updating of the Lugosi version of 1931. And, sure enough, the screenplay is based on the same Deane-Balderston play. Like Lugosi, Langella is reprising on screen a role he played to acclaim on Broadway.
A few changes are made, however. Harker never goes to Transylvania. The action starts with Dracula arriving by ship in Yorkshire, England. The geography is updated and the count is now said to be from Romania—though his sultry voice is without an East European accent.
Names also get switched around. In England his first victim, Mina, is Van Helsing's daughter. His second intended, Lucy, is Dr. Seward's daughter, as well as Jonathan Harker's fiancée.
Van Helsing, played wearily by Laurence Olivier no less, is not much of a nemesis for Dracula either. For one thing he seems to have no prior knowledge of such paranormal phenomena, as Bram Stoker's Van Helsing does. Rather he looks it all up in an encyclopedia. In the end it is left to Harker—in most other versions the hapless cast-aside lover—to deliver the final blow.
Or does he? The ending is ambiguous, with Dracula defeated but seemingly escaping. And his lover Lucy is left with a smile on her lips.
This Dracula is a tragic love story, the closest to date that any serious adaptation comes to sympathizing with the vampire's point of view. Langella's Dracula is vital, potent, and even slightly pathetic as he attempts to find a mate to live through the centuries with, hoping to raise her to live with him on another plane, high above mere mortals upon whom they will feast.
Their coming together on that fateful night is an explosion of red heat. And his demise (if it is a demise) comes in the burning red light of a sunrise.
The period of this film is also moved ahead a few years, which allows the use of early motor vehicles in the chase scenes. But Dracula remains a Gothic horror with great sweeping camera work, ghostly atmosphere and grandly romantic acting in the title role.