Film: Dracula (1979)

Ladies.

Throughout history he has filled the hearts of men with terror, and the hearts of women with desire.

Universal's second version of Dracula was adapted from the same stage play its predecessor was based upon in the wake of a successful Broadway revival. The star of that production, Frank Langella, reprises his role as Dracula, while Laurence Olivier as Abraham Van Helsing and Donald Pleasence as Dr. Seward head up the supporting cast.

In 1913, a ship (with its entire crew dead) arrives on the shore of North Yorkshire in England. With it arrives the Romanian Count Dracula, who has bought the disused Carfax Abbey, located near Dr. Seward's sanitarium. Dracula sets upon furthering his kind. First, he seduces and turns Mina Van Helsing, a guest in the Seward home, and then — more romantically — pursues Lucy Seward. When Professor Abraham Van Helsing arrives in Whitby upon word of Mina's sudden, mysterious death, he leads the investigation into Dracula's true nature...but is it already too late to save Lucy's soul?


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Mina Murray and Lucy Westerna's names are changed, just the start of their substantially different characterizations.
  • Answers to the Name of God: Grieving in the wake of destroying his vampirized daughter, Prof. Van Helsing holds his hands to his face and proclaims, "Oh, the devil." Dracula, who has entered the room without him noticing, answers "I'm not as bad as that."
  • Antagonist Title: Spoilers — Dracula is the villain!
  • Badass Boast: Dracula is not impressed when Van Helsing and Jonathan arrive in Carfax Abbey to slay him.
    Dracula: You fools! Do you think with your crosses and your wafers you can destroy me? Me! You do not know how many men have come against me. I am the king of my kind!
  • Big "NO!": Lucy does this when Van Helsing is about to stake the sleeping Dracula. This wakes him up...
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: Both Mina and Lucy have black eyes with red pupils after they have been turned by Dracula.
  • Book Ends: The film starts and ends onboard a ship.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: Dracula's clawlike hand movements make his fingers appear very long.
  • Cross-Melting Aura: Jonathan tries to ward off Dracula with a wooden cross, but he just smiles and grabs it, making it burst in flames.
  • Death by Adaptation: Van Helsing is killed by Dracula with his own stake.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The final moments suggest that while Lucy's humanity has been restored, Dracula might yet "live" to see another day.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Van Helsing confirms his suspicions about his late daughter's vampirism by investigating her resting place with a horse. When the horse arrives at her grave, it stars stomping the ground with its hooves, and then runs away in terror. Van Helsing and Dr. Seward then start digging...
  • George Lucas Altered Version: Since 1991 with the Laserdisc edition, every home video release of the film has muted, desaturated colors to better reflect the original intent of the director, who wanted to film in black-and-white.
  • Ghost Butler: Anyone entering Carfax Abbey soon has the doors closing by themselves behind them.
  • Glamour Failure: Van Helsing discovers that vampires don't have reflections in mirrors when he comes face to face with Dracula for the first time.
  • Haunted Castle: Carfax Abbey is a massive disheveled building; its interiors are covered in layers of dust and cobwebs.
  • Neck Snap: Dracula punishes Renfield for his treachery by twisting his head around.
  • Quivering Eyes: Accompanies some of Dracula's more intensive stares that he gives to the ladies.
  • Shovel Strike: Enraged by Dracula's words on how he is going to make Lucy his bride, Jonathan tries to whack him with a shovel, but the count just turns into a bat to avoid it.
  • Staking the Loved One: Van Helsing is forced to stake his daughter, making things very personal between him and Dracula.
  • Super Window Jump: After feasting on the infant child of one of Dr. Seward's patients, the vampirized Mina escapes the scene of the crime by jumping through a window.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: This film is really the first attempt to deliberately present Dracula as a romantic and attractive figure. At the time, it was mentioned that Dracula being attractive actually makes him more terrifying, as it effectively hides the monster underneath — misleading the audience this way was quite novel.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used when Dracula hypnotizes Mina during his social visit to Dr. Seward.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Dracula can become a wolf, a bat, or mist as needed.
  • Wall Crawling: Dracula scales down a wall to get into first Mina's and then Lucy's bedroom. He also does this when he "rescues" Lucy from the asylum.