TV Terror Guide: Dracula (1974)
Air Date: Feb. 8, 1974 (CBS)
Production Companies: Latglen Ltd.
Running Time: 98 min.
Available on: Blu-ray (MPI Home Video)
Written by: Richard Matheson
From the novel by Bram Stoker
Directed by: Dan Curtis
Cast: Jack Palance, Simon Ward, Nigel Davenport, Pamela Brown, Fiona Lewis, Penelope Horner, Murray Brown
A full-length review of Dracula was originally posted on February 8, 2017. You can click here to read it.
Today, as a special treat, I present an excerpt from a feature I wrote for the upcoming We Belong Dead publication, Masters of Terror. In it, I discuss the influence of gothic literature on Dan Curtis and how it was reflected in a number of TV horror films that he produced, as well as the daytime series, Dark Shadows (1966-1971), which he created. Please enjoy this sneak peek, and keep your eyes and ears open for information about purchasing the book...
If Jack Palance was curiously cast in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, he’s even more so here. I’ll be darned, though, if his performance of the character isn’t one of my favorites. He emotes more anguish than most other actors who’ve played the role, yet when he first sees a picture of Lucy Westerna (Fiona Lewis), his eyes reflect a deep sadness. When he spots blood from a razor cut on Jonathan Harker’s neck, his face contorts in self-loathing. And when he delivers the final bite that will make Lucy one of the undead, he seems to be fighting what he is compelled to do. All this emotion does not mean that Palance is entirely a touchy-feely Drac; he is also one of the cruelest and most savage, exploding in fury at a moment’s notice.
The obvious connection between Dracula and Dark Shadows would be the vampire, Barnabas Collins. However, rather than the soap opera borrowing from the classic story, Dracula actually borrows from Dark Shadows. Curtis openly admitted, “I ripped myself off.” He incorporated the love story between Barnabas Collins and Josette DuPres (Katherine Leigh Scott) into Dracula, with Lucy acting as the reincarnation of his long-lost love, much like Maggie Evans was the reincarnation of Barnabas’s long-lost love. There’s even a similar music box that represents the connection. While the great Richard Matheson is given sole credit for writing this version of Dracula, Curtis’s influence is obvious.