Count Dracula – Severin Films (4k UHD/Blu-ray/CD Combo)
Theatrical Release Date: Spain/West Germany/Italy/Liechtenstein, 1970
Director: Jesús Franco
Writers: Erich Kröhnke, Augusto Finocchi
Cast: Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski, Soledad Miranda, Maria Rohm, Fred Williams, Paul Muller, Jack Taylor, Jesús Franco
Release Date: November 28th, 2023
Approximate Running Time: 96 Minutes 38 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / HDR10
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $69.95
"In 1970, cult director Jess Franco and screen legend Christopher Lee collaborated on what they promised would be the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel ever filmed. From its remarkable performances – including Lee as the Count, Herbert Lom (MARK OF THE DEVIL) as Van Helsing, Soledad Miranda (VAMPYROS LESBOS) as Lucy, Maria Rohm (VENUS IN FURS) as Mina, and authentic madman Klaus Kinski as Renfield – to its lush locations and atmosphere of sinister sensuality, it remains perhaps the most spellbinding version of Dracula in movie history." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Video: 4.5/5 (4K UHD), 4.25/5 (Blu-ray)
Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "newly scanned in 4K".
Count Dracula comes on a 66 GB dual layer 4K UHD.
Disc Size: 60.8 GB
Feature: 58.2 GB
The source used for this brand new 4K transfer is in excellent shape; all print debris has been cleaned up. Flesh tones look healthy, colors are nicely saturated, image clarity, contrast, black levels, and compression are solid, and the image always looks organic. That said, this new transfer is a massive improvement over the transfer Severin Films used for their 2015 Blu-ray release.
Count Dracula comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 42.4 GB
Feature: 29.4 GB
The Blu-ray uses the same source as the 4K UHD does for its transfer.
Audio: 4/5 (DTS-HD Mono English), 4.25/5 (DTS-HD Mono Spanish)
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Spanish. Unfortunately, in the case of the latter, there are no subtitles. The English-language track is in very good shape. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, and the score sounds robust. That said, there are a few minor sibilance-related issues. Though the Spanish-language track is comparable, it sounds fuller than its English-language counterpart. Included are removable English SDH for the English-language track.
Extras on the 4K UHD disc include a theatrical trailer (3 minutes 19 seconds, DTS-HD mono English, no subtitles), and an archival audio commentary with horror historian David Del Valle and actress Maria Rohm.
Extras on Blu-ray disc 1 include a theatrical trailer (3 minutes 19 seconds, DTS-HD mono English, no subtitles), an archival extra titled Stake Holders, an appreciation by filmmaker Christophe Gans (7 minutes 32 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actor Jack Taylor (10 minutes, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actor Fred Williams titled Handsome Harker (26 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English and German with removable English subtitles for German), an archival interview with director Jess Franco titled Beloved Count (26 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English subtitles), an archival extra titled Illustrated 1973 Christopher Lee Audio Interview With Filmmaker Donald Glut (19 minutes 50 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), and an archival audio commentary with David Del Valle and Maria Rohm.
Extras on Blu-ray disc 2 include alternate title sequences: Spanish (1 minute 40 seconds, Dolby Digital mono with text in Spanish, no subtitles), German (1 minute 36 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), French (1 minute 23 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), and Italian (1 minute 35 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), In The Land of Franco bonus sequence with Alain Petit and Stephen Thrower (6 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with author Stephen Thrower titled Jess Franco's Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula (45 minutes 21 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), and a 2017 documentary titled Dracula Barcelona (90 minutes 24 seconds, DTS-HD stereo Spanish with removable English subtitles).
Other extras include a CD with Bruno Nicolai’s 30-track score, an insert with a track listing for the CD, and a slipcover.
From 1968 to 1970, this would mark one of Jess Franco’s most productive and fruitful eras as a filmmaker. During these years, he would work with British producer Harry Alan Towers, who would give Franco some of his biggest budgets of his career. The casts for most of these productions would feature some of the biggest names in European cinema at the time, like Klaus Kinski, Christopher Lee, and Herbert Lom. All three actors would also participate in Jess Franco’s retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Over the years, Dracula has been filmed many times. Despite the countless retellings, each version always had its own distinct take on the source material, and no matter what changes were made to the source, the end result is always like seeing an old friend you've seen hundreds of times.
By the time Jess Franco approached Christopher Lee about playing Dracula, his interest in playing this part, which had garnered him worldwide fame, had waned considerably. What changed Lee’s mind about playing Count Dracula one more time was how director Jess Franco wanted to approach the story and character the way Bram Stoker had written it.
Though Count Dracula lacks the abstract style that Jess Franco would later overuse in his subsequent films. Count Dracula still features some stellar photography and compositions, especially in the scenes where Dracula visits Lucy and drains her of her life and blood. The moments with Klaus Kinski rely heavily on his performance and not as much on the visual look of his surroundings.
Klaus Kinski does a remarkable job of playing Renfield that is on par with Dwight Frye’s memorable performance of the same character in Tod Browning’s 1931 version of Dracula. This cast is really good overall, with solid performances from Herbert Lom as Professor Van Helsing and Soledad Miranda in her first collaboration with Jess Franco as Lucy Westenra. Without a doubt, the performance that stands out is Christopher Lee's tour de force as Count Dracula. This time, Christopher Lee captures the essence of man, and the result is spellbinding.
Besides having a strong cast, Jess Franco also had at his disposal many of the sets and costumes that he had used or would use during his several collaborations with producer Harry Alan Towers. The score for this film was written by Bruno Nicolai, and his haunting arrangements perfectly complement Franco’s visual styles and moods. Ultimately, Jess Franco’s Count Dracula features one of Christopher Lee’s best performances of his career, which helps overcome the slower moments and familiarity that most will have with Bram Stoker’s original source material.
Jess Franco’s Count Dracula gets an exceptional release from Severin Films, highly recommended.
4K UHD screenshots.
Written by Michael Den Boer