Today: June 20, 2024

Count Dracula

Of a packed career filled with iconic roles, perhaps Christopher Lee’s most beloved work is his many performances as everyone’s favourite blood-sucker Dracula. But of the ten times he portrayed the role, it might surprise you to learn that three of these films were not released under the prestigious purveyors of gothic horror Hammer. 1970’s Count Dracula, directed by exploitation B-movie maestro Jesús Franco, is one of these three.

Available for the first time in 4K UHD, this fascinating curiosity is a must-see for horror buffs. There is a lot of clear Hammer influence in the film’s gothic visuals and indeed the casting of Lee in the title role, but it’s also worth noting that Count Dracula does enough to carve out its own unique identity in a crowded subgenre. Advertised at the time as the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s original text, it’s interesting to see a film portray not just the character but the story too. With that comes Dracula being able to speak more than Lee’s portrayals usually allow, which reportedly pleased the thespian.

Naturally, the film belongs to Lee. While supporting performances from future Nosferatu Klaus Kinski and Herbert Lom lend a further hand to the film’s 70s charm, it is the quietly commanding Christopher Lee who steals every scene despite clearly phoning it in a little more than he usually would. Lee is one of those actors who is just so good that even at 50% he’s going to be the highlight of whatever film he’s in. And if there’s a benefit to Lee’s somewhat distant performance, it is surely that he comes across as even more eerily disturbing.

This stunning 4K UHD release comes from a recently rediscovered uncut camera negative, and the results are breathtaking. We live in a truly wonderful time for physical media when these forgotten, difficult-to-find films are suddenly available in such pristine quality. The film looks and sounds magnificent, and will surely be the definitive version of the underrated classic. A great abundance of special features round out the package and offer valuable context to the film, which will surely go far in putting the film back where it belongs in both Lee’s legacy and the great pantheon of Dracula films.

88 Films’ UHD release of Count Dracula should be considered essential for all horror enthusiasts and fans of the legendary vampire. This is a unique and distinctive film that goes way beyond just being a cinematic curiosity. 

Count Dracula is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD from 88 Films

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