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maryann johanson | watching movies at home

Count Dracula (review)

I have a friend who swears that Louis Jourdan as Count Dracula is just about the sexy-scariest thing she’s ever seen. I can’t say that I agree, having finally had the opportunity to see the 1977 two-part BBC miniseries, at long last available on DVD to the delight, I know, of the legion of fans slavish devoted to this incarnation of the bloodsucker. Maybe it had more of an impact in the 70s — my friend remembers the original American broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances — but today, while it remains a stylishly surreal reinterpretation of Bram Stoker’s novel, there’s something a bit dated and stodgy about it. Oh, Jourdan does indeed put a sexy, urbane spin on the vampire — that he is attractive and seductive is the only serious deviation from the Victorian novel, in which the count was repulsive; this is otherwise a remarkably faithful adaptation, adhering closer to the source material than any other — and all the nightgown-clad virgins fluttering dreamily across manor lawns and moany, groany scenes of nocturnal bedroom neck-rophila make for quite a sexually charged story of the supernatural. Still, it’s slow moving to modern eyes, which makes it a big of a slog. The 1977 picture has not been cleaned up, and is rather faded and scratch, and the sound is in the original mono; there are no extras on the disc. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

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