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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Bram Stoker's Dracula aka Dan Curtis' Dracula [Blu-ray]

 

(Dan Curtis, 1974)

1) Opening - Region FREE - Blu-ray LEFT

2) MPI - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Latglen Ltd.

Video: Opening / MPI

 

Disc:

Region: FREE / Region 'A'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:37:53.993 / 1:37:53.993

Disc Size: 21,161,156,696 bytes / 20,919,317,321 bytes

Feature Size: 20,135,639,040 bytes / 17,885,079,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.32 Mbps / 20.99 Mbps

Chapters: 13 / 30

Case: Standard Blu-ray case (both)

Release date: February 4th, 2014 / May 27th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 (both)

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps (both)

Video codec: VC-1 Video / MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1712 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1712 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DUB: DTS-HD Master Audio French 1713 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1713 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1563 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1563 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs:

Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

French, none

English, none

 

Extras:

• Making of (Interviews) (8:16)
• Trailer (2:52)

 

Interview with actor Jack Palance (3:58)

Interview with Director Dan Curtis (4:23)

Outtakes (6:28)

TV Cuts (3:41)

• Trailer (2:51)

 

Bitrate:

1) Opening - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) MPI - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: Natives in Transylvania seem afraid when they learn solicitor Jonathan Harker is going to Castle Dracula on business. Jonathan shows up, and finds the Count abrupt and impatient to get things done. He reacts very strongly to a photograph of Harker's fiancee Mina and her best friend Lucy. After rescuing Harker from his three Brides, the Count forces Harker to write a letter saying that he will be staying in Transylvania for a month. Harker climbs down the castle wall and finds Dracula's coffin, but is attacked and knocked out by one of Dracula's gypsy servants before he can stake Dracula. They later throw him in the lower levels of the crypt, where the Brides attack Harker...

 

 

The Film:

The script comes from respected genre novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson, who has been responsible for works like The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Duel (1971), What Dreams May Come (1998), most of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations and the oft-filmed novel I Am Legend (1954). Richard Matheson treats the Bram Stoker story with the greatest degree of faithfulness that any adaptation had up to that point. The Transylvanian scenes are played almost entirely as Bram Stoker wrote them – all that is missing is the scene of Dracula climbing down the castle wall. The climactic pursuit back to Transylvania tracking Dracula via the hypnotised Lucy is also effectively introduced – the first film to do so. Richard Matheson does trim some aspects of the book – Renfield and the lunatic asylum have been dropped outright. So are the other vampire hunters, excepting for Arthur Holmwood.

Excerpt from Mora located HERE

Solid Dan Curtis TV adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel with Palance performing nicely as the infamous nightly nobleman. Reasonably faithful to the original novel, everyone's favorite Count leaves his homeland and relocates to England to some new digs...and some fresh blood. Added bonus to this particular entry has Drac hounding a dead ringer for his love from centuries ago. Good locales, Palance's controlled, sneering performance as the Count is a delight to watch.

Excerpt fromTerrorTrap located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, Bram Stoker's Dracula was an English-language TV movie from 1974 although it did get a theatrical release in 1978 in Denmark. The 'Opening', French Blu-ray is transferred in VC-1 / 1080P, at 1.78:1 with an original English language option, without forced French subtitles, and in the disc is region FREE.  The image quality looks superior to SD and is probably quite accurate to its initial appearance (excepting it was originally in 1.33:1). It is only single-layered with a modest bitrate. There are some speckles and is nothing particularly dynamic - visually-speaking. Detail is impressive in the frequent close-ups. This Blu-ray has a nice realistic feel with a reasonable film-like sense to it. Visually this a simple HD transfer without any exceptional attributes but the presentation is without any dramatic flaws either.

 

I find it very curious that the MPI Blu-ray has the exact running time, down to the 1/1000th of a second (seemingly from the same source) but has some differences in the transfer. MPI use AVC - what we have always considered as being superior to VC-1 encode. The MPI is darker, a bit smoothr, less grainy and shows a few more speckles but technically is almost as robust as the French transfer. For most I would expect this is not a big difference. I *think* the MPI is the more accurate rendering.   

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample  MPI - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Opening - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) MPI - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Opening - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) MPI - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Opening - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) MPI - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Opening - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) MPI - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Opening - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) MPI - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is offered in an original 2.0 channel (via the menu with no forced French subtitles) via a DTS-HD Master at 1712 kbps. It sounds good and the music is reminiscent of TV supernatural stuff of era. Robert Cobert (similar Dan Curtis/Richard Matheson - vampire related like excellent the TV series of Kolchak The Night Stalker - and the pilot-films (The Night Strangler / The Night Stalker) and The Norliss Tapes. I LOVED all that stuff. The score is pretty similar to the supportive music in those titles - and works to build the supernatural aura and heavy tension. There is an optional French DUB and/or are optional French subtitles (removable when the English audio is chosen) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Not a substantial difference in the original English language track. It is also DTS-HD Master sounding solid. MPI add two Dolby DUBs and optional English subtitles on their region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras :

The only supplements include an 8-minute vintage Making of... featurette with interview snippets of Dan Curtis and Palance. There is also a, reasonably long, trailer.

 

MPI add a bit more but include the same interviews with Jack Palance and director/producer Dan Curtis plus they have added 6.5 minutes of, fairly meaningless, Outtakes, a 4-minute portion used on the TV Cut and a trailer.

 

1) Opening - Region FREE - Blu-ray LEFT

2) MPI - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

 
 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I thought this was a decent retelling of the Stoker tale - with the Dan Curtis 70's touch and, iconic, Richard Matheson screenplay/scenario. It is no where near the caliber of Coppola's masterful 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot. Palance doesn't seem to embrace the Dracula role as well as I would have liked but Simon Ward and Nigel Davenport support the vampire-fighting character's more convincingly. I had never seen this before and, hence, why I gave the Blu-ray a chance. It was better than I was anticipating and it is a bonus being without the forced subs and region FREE-dom. If you liked and appreciate the original Kolchak, and authenticity of the Stoker story - this may be something you, also, deem to have value for a few, late night, spins.

 

I liked this just as much - even after seeing it only 3 months previous. It works well as a interesting Stoker re-telling. I've warmed further to Palance in the role of Dracula and still endorse. The Region 'A' MPI Blu-ray gets the slight edge in recommendation but I don't see enough of a reason to double-dip. 

Gary Tooze

February 16th, 2014

May 16th, 2014

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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