The BBC’s DRACULA mini series (1977)
In 1977 the BBC produced an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s immortal classic that starred Louis Jourdan as The Count and Frank Finley as his nemesis Van Helsing. At almost three hours long (aired in three parts) it is one of the most faithful adaptations of the original material and one of the few productions to include the character of Quincy Morris, though he is combined with the Arthur Holmwood character and is called ‘Quincy Holmwood’.
Not only is it very faithful, it’s actually very creepy and very well done. The performances are good all around with Jourdan’s Dracula coming across as very unsettling even before his true nature is revealed, and then a very threatening and scary figure once he comes out of the coffin. Jourdan does creepy very well but, can also turn on the sex appeal when he needs to. Finley is a charming yet wise Van Helsing and his delivery brings a welcome, but not intrusive humor to the spooky proceedings. The scenes with Dracula seducing Mina (Judi Bowker) and Lucy (Susan Penhaligon) are also very effective mixing scary and sexy very well and when the blood hits the fan, this production doesn’t skimp when it comes to the carnage. It can be very gruesome at times. Director Phillip Saville gives the story some great atmosphere and makes good use of his production value and even uses some video effects to enhance some of the spookier scenes. Unlike today’s CGI happy filmmakers, Saville applies them sparingly so they have impact when they are used. He does a great job of delivering a lavish production on a TV budget and draws good performances from all his actors.
This adaptation is now considered a TV classic and in a lot of ways it’s still one of the best versions of this timeless vampire tale there is, even today. Available on DVD and highly recommended for those who are fans of Stoker’s classic and vampire films/stories in general. Also stars Jack Shepard as a delightfully disturbing Renfield.