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Dracula is an American/British romantic horror film directed by John Badham. It is loosely based on the 1897 Gothic novel Dracula by Irish author and playwright Bram Stoker as well as the stage play written by John L. Balderston and Hamilton Deane. The film was produced by Universal Pictures and the Mirisch Corporation and released theatrically in the United States on July 20, 1979. The premise of the film revolves around a Transylvanian nobleman named Count Dracula - a vampire, who relocates from his homeland to England where he begins to seduce the innocent, young Lucy Seward, whom he intends on turning into his vampire bride.
In Whitby, England in 1913, Count Dracula (Frank Langella) arrives from Transylvania via the ship Demeter one stormy night. A sickly Mina Van Helsing (Jan Francis), who is visiting her friend Lucy Seward (Kate Nelligan), discovers Dracula's body after his ship has run aground. The Count visits Mina and her friends at the household of Lucy's father, Dr. Jack Seward (Donald Pleasence), whose clifftop mansion also serves as the local asylum. At dinner, he proves to be a charming guest and leaves a strong impression on the hosts, especially Lucy. Less charmed by this handsome Romanian count is Jonathan Harker (Trevor Eve), Lucy's fiancé.
Later that night, while Lucy and Jonathan are having a secret rendezvous, Dracula reveals his true nature as he descends upon Mina to drink her blood. The following morning, Lucy finds Mina awake in bed, struggling for breath. Powerless, she watches her friend die, only to find wounds on her throat. Lucy blames herself for Mina's death, as she had left her alone.
At a loss for the cause of death, Dr. Seward calls for Mina's father, Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Laurence Olivier). Van Helsing suspects what might have killed his daughter: a vampire. Moreover, he begins to worry about what fate his seemingly dead daughter may now have. Seward and Van Helsing investigate their suspicions and discover a roughly clawed opening within Mina's coffin which leads to the local mines. It is there that they encounter the ghastly form of an undead Mina, and it is up to a distraught Van Helsing to destroy what remains of his own daughter.
Lucy has, in the meantime, been summoned to Carfax Abbey, Dracula's new home. She reveals herself to be in love with this foreign prince and openly offers herself to him as his bride. After a surreal "wedding night" sequence (employing lasers and shot by famed James Bond title sequence designer, Maurice Binder), Lucy, like Mina before her, is now infected by Dracula's blood. The two doctors manage to give Lucy a blood transfusion to slow her descent into vampirism, but she remains under Dracula's spell.
Now aided by Jonathan, the elderly doctors realize that the only way to save Lucy is by destroying Dracula. They manage to locate his coffin within the grounds of Carfax Abbey, but the vampire is waiting for them. Despite it being daylight, Dracula is still a very powerful adversary. Dracula escapes their attempts to kill him, bursts into the asylum to free the captive Lucy, and also murders his one-time slave, Milo Renfield (Tony Haygarth), for warning the others about him. Dracula now intends for him and Lucy to return to Transylvania together.
In a race against time, Harker and Van Helsing just manage to get on board a ship carrying the vampire cargo bound for Romania. Below decks, Harker and Van Helsing find the Count's coffin; upon opening it, they see Lucy sleeping beside Dracula. Again they try to destroy him, but the Count awakens and once more fights with them. In the struggle, Van Helsing is fatally wounded by Dracula as he is impaled by the stake intended for the vampire. As the enraged Count now turns his attention to Harker, Van Helsing uses his remaining strength to throw a hook (attached to a rope from the ship's rigging) into Dracula's back. Harker seizes his chance and hoists the Count up through the cargo hold and into the sunlight above, and Dracula suffers a slow and painful death as the solar rays burn his body.
Lucy, now apparently herself once more, reaches out to Harker, who stares at the dead Van Helsing. At this moment, she looks up to see Dracula's cape flying away in the wind, and smiles enigmatically which hints that Dracula may have survived.
- Frank Langella as Count Dracula
- Laurence Olivier as Professor Abraham Van Helsing
- Donald Pleasence as Dr. Jack Seward
- Kate Nelligan as Lucy Seward
- Trevor Eve as Jonathan Harker
- Jan Francis as Mina Van Helsing
- Sylvester McCoy as Walter Myrtle
- Janine Duvitski as Annie
- Tony Haygarth as Milo Renfield
- Teddy Turner as Swales