Monday, May 19, 2014

Dan Curtis' Dracula (MPI Blu-ray) - Traditional Drac Starring Jack

Sometimes we crave original horror. We want the new story with the new monster in the the new place with the new actors and fancy directors with virgin concepts that make us coo coo for Cocoa Puffs. Then there are moments where traditional horror will do just fine. Comfort movies or comfort concepts. Characters so familiar we could play them. This is where Dan Curtis' Dracula falls in place. It is, by all accounts, the standard telling of Bram Stoker's Dracula as put in the big screen only this time Jack Palance plays an outstanding Drac. Richard Matheson adapts the screenplay, and Dan Curtis produces it. These are some big, talented names, and they had eyes on creating a Gothic tale that could stand up to Hammer. Stand up to Universal. It's definitely in the same ballpark for a movie from 1973 just past the hay day of Hammer.

Synopsis from MPI:

Academy Award® winner* Jack Palance stars in this terrifying adaptation of Bram Stoker s classic vampire legend written for the screen by sci-fi/horror master Richard Matheson and produced by the legendary Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows). Palance is Count Dracula, whose centuries-old existence is threatened after he attacks the lovely Lucy Westenra (Fiona Lewis) and her fiancĂ© (Simon Ward, The Tudors) calls in famed vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing (Nigel Davenport) to investigate.

If one thing was abundantly certain from this iteration of Dracula it is that Jack Palance understand how to play him at his worst and at his most vulnerable. Now this pay not be the sophisticated, emo vamp of Francis Ford Coppola's design, but he is multi-dimensional and complex, more so than Lugosi or Lee's portrayal of the prince of darkness. On one hand he is watching over his progeny and even shows real pain when they perish. The other hand is a brutal, homicidal side that creates evil with a grimace and perhaps and audible hiss so shocking it may actually startle you the first couple times you hear it.

The sets, music and supporting cast will remind you of Hammer productions which is perfect for this Hammer horror fan. In my mind you could even consider this a "lost" Hammer production on appearance alone though Lee doesn't don the cape. It would also fit in well with the John Badham Dracula from 1979 as its contemporary. Palance's performance is better than Langella's but the productions are very similar in feel and appearance.

The disc itself is an amazing 2K transfer. Beautiful color and contrast with appropriate film grain and very clean. As much care has been taken in this production as you might expect for Horror of Dracula aka Dracula from Hammer or perhaps one of its popular sequels. Even though Dan Curtis' effort is somewhat lesser known, the MPI product wouldn't let you know it. In addition to a somewhat traditional cover and good looking visual, the disc includes an interview and introduction with the late Jack Palance, outtakes, TV cuts, Spanish and French Audio Tracks and the trailer.

Hammer horror fans... Dracula fans...  Palance fans... horror people... this is a release worth getting into especially given its slight obscurity.

Order Dan Curtis' Dracula now! Available May 27th.

-Doc Terror

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