Follow TV Tropes


Film / Dracula (1973)

Go To

A Made-for-TV Movie adaptation of Dracula, scripted by Richard Matheson and directed by Dan Curtis of Dark Shadows fame. (As such it's sometimes known as Dan Curtis' Dracula, to differentiate it from others; originally it was titled Bram Stoker's Dracula, but that's been dropped because of the later film of the same name.) It was produced in 1973 but first aired in early 1974, as its original broadcast on CBS was postponed for months due to Richard Nixon making an unscheduled presidential address concerning the resignation of Spiro Agnew as vice president.

While the core of the novel – Dracula (Jack Palance) heading to London for a new feeding ground – is intact, there are several significant changes to the main story regarding character placements.


  • Adapted Out: No Renfield, Quincy, or Seward in this version.
  • Battle Butler: Burgess, who goes charging after Dracula twice to protect the Westenra home. It doesn’t turn out so well for him the second time.
  • Big "NO!": Harker when he finds himself in the crypt where the brides are and they quickly close in on him.
  • Blood from the Mouth: The uncensored version had the vampires mouths filling with blood after they're staked.
  • Bowdlerise: The DVD release was the more censored version of the movie. Though oddly some streaming versions of the movie play the uncensored one.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: Rather then confront her in the cemetery, Lucy returns back to her manor after she rises as a vampire and, after tricking Arthur to let her in, nearly bites him. Only stopped by the timely arrival of Van Helsing and his cross.
  • Death by Adaptation: Johnathan Harker in this version. He's initially saved from the brides by Dracula as in the original story. But when he escapes from his room and snoops around the crypt to find Dracula's coffin, he's found and knocked out by the gypsies. They leave him there as they finish packing Dracula and his coffins up for his trip to London, with Harker awakening long after night has fallen. Just in time for Dracula's brides to be awake and active who quickly swarm and feed on him once they find him. When Van Helsing and Arthur later track down Dracula to his castle, they find a ravenous vampire Harker within that same area who attacks them. Arthur manages to kill him for good by knocking him into a nearby spike pit.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Harker is initially seen as the main character the story follows, but halfway through the Transylvania side of the story, he's fed on by the brides and ultimately killed, to which the MC role shifts over to Arthur and Van Helsing.
  • Destination Defenestration: During Dracula’s attack in the hotel, one guy who tries to attack him gets thrown out a window.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Harker by Dracula's brides. They nearly succeeded the first time but Dracula stepped in to prevent them from doing so. The second time however, he had no more use for Harker. So when the gypsies catch him in Dracula's crypt and knock him out, Harker awakens right as night falls and is quickly cornered by the women who swarm him.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the book, Quincey Morris kills Dracula by plunging a knife into his heart. In the film, Van Helsing weakens him with sunlight before driving a spear through his heart.
  • Dies Wide Open: When Dracula finishes feeding on Lucy, Arthur and a butler find her corpse slumped near a tree, eyes completely wide open with tears streaming down her face.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Averted. In contrast to the original novel and most adaptations, Dracula here makes little effort to charm Harker by playing the gracious host even initially.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Dracula having a wolf tear apart a night watchman.
  • Hollywood Darkness: It's very obvious in some scenes they filmed them during the day and just put a filter to make it look like night.
  • Holy Burns Evil:
    • Van Helsing flashes a cross at the newly vampiric Lucy when she tries to attack him, forcing her to flee from the estate.
    • As Mina slowly turns, she grabs the cross of a nun looking after her which instantly burns her hand.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Harker is killed by being knocked into a spike pit.
    • Dracula meets his end which Van Helsing impales him with a spear against a table, then letting the sun do the rest of the work.
  • Killed Offscreen: Burgess shoots at Dracula repeatedly, but the Immune to Bullets Dracula keeps coming at him. The film then cuts back to Mina, who hears the gunshots stop. When Arthur and Van Helsing arrive, the first thing they find is Burgess' dead body.
  • No Ending: The film ends immediately after Dracula is killed, with no indication on what will happen to Mina, who was last seen turning into a vampire.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Subverted. Van Helsing demands Mina leave without telling her why. When she demands an explanation, he tries to think of the reason he won’t tell her and can’t come up with one, and he just tells her the truth.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Slightly, Dracula targets Lucy since she looks like his lost love, Maria, from the past.
  • Revenge: After Lucy is staked, Dracula goes after Mina in revenge for losing his love a second time and wanting to make the hunters pay.
  • Savage Wolves: Dracula frees a wolf from the local zoo, and uses it to attack Arthur while he guards Lucy at night.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Mrs. Westenra dies of a heart attack in the book when Dracula attacks, here she's just faints when Dracula comes after Lucy for the final time.
  • Vampire Refugee: Mina as per usual of the main story. Though in this one she personally requests Van Helsing and Arthur to Mercy Kill her should they fail find him in time. Citing she feels the vampirisim affecting her.
    Van Helsing: (Assuringly) Nothing is going to happen to you, Mina.
    Mina: I feel it. I can feel it happening. I'm losing myself, bit by bit. It won't be long now.
    • Indeed a few scenes later, her hair starts getting messier and her eyes more sunken. When a nun that Arthur left with her goes to check on her, she states she can feel the change even more at that point and is scared. To prove her point, she grabs the nun's cross and it burns her hand. Causing Mina to cry out in anguish.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Mrs. Westenra and the maid just disappear when Dracula attacks the Westenra home.
    • Since the film ends immediately after Dracula is killed, whether Mina transforms into a vampire or not is left up in the air.


Video Example(s):


Dan Curtis' Dracula [Vampire Harker]

Edited clips from a 1973 TV version of "Dracula" (helmed by "Dark Shadows" creator, Dan Curtis). In the original novel, Harker survives his ordeal in Dracula's castle and the entirety of the book. In this version however, he isn't as lucky, being fed to the brides Dracula initially saved him from. An act that ultimately killed and turned him into a ravenous vampire who attacks Van Helsing and Arthur, forcing Arthur to put him down.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeathByAdaptation

Media sources: