What’s a Halloween Film Festival without a Dracula movie? Lame! Count Dracula, a film by Spanish director Jess Franco had it’s festival premiere last night. Count Dracula is a more or less faithful adaptation of the novel by Bram Stoker. This seems to be the first film to attempt to adapt the novel rather than the stage play that was adapted from the novel. Many of the scenes depicted in Count Dracula were also presented in the super big budget Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Yes the big money, new technology version is better in every aspect but I found the contrast intriguing. This is a cost conscious but efficient version of the Dracula story.
The film boasts an impressive cast beginning with Christopher Lee as Dracula. Lee played the Dracula role 8 times in his career mostly for Hammer Films. Count Dracula was his fourth time in fangs. It was released between Hammers’ Dracula Has Risen From The Grave and Taste The Blood Of Dracula. Lee was known to complain endlessly about how much he hated playing the role and yet he went out of his way to make Count Dracula while he had a break between Hammer Dracula movies. This is a much different Dracula that the guy Lee usually plays. He talks a lot more and he’s much less physical.
The rest of the cast ain’t bad either. Herbert Lom plays the Van Helsing role. Lom had an extensive career that blossomed in the 1940’s and continued through the 90’s. He played all kinds of roles but will always be remembered as Police Commissioner Charles Dreyfus from the Pink Panther. Also on hand, up and coming weird looking guy Klaus Kinski plays Reinfierd. The role of Lucy is played by the lovely Soledad Miranda, a pop singer who also appeared in soft porn movies directed by Jess Franco.
Jess Franco gave up a promising career as a director of low budget horror films to pursue a future in pornography. Count Dracula was pretty much the highlight of his horror output. After meeting up with Soledad Miranda, he moved the crew from Spain to France to enjoy additional artistic freedom. In 1970 alone the two combined to make 6 soft porn films. After her mysterious death, he went hard core, pumping out stroke films faster than greased lightning, or whatever … While Franco did occasionally return to making low budget horror films like Dracula vs Frankenstein, it clear that porno was his passion.