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Bram Stoker's Dracula aka Dan Curtis' Dracula [Blu-ray]
(Dan Curtis, 1974)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Latglen Ltd.
Video:Opening / MPI / Odeon Entertainment
Region: FREE /Region 'A'-locked / Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:37:53.993 / 1:37:53.993 / 1:33:49.520 (25 fps)
Disc Size: 21,161,156,696 bytes / 20,919,317,321 bytes/ 17,392,963,724 bytes
Feature Size: 20,135,639,040 bytes / 17,885,079,552 bytes / 16,627,568,640 bytes
Video Bitrate: 22.32 Mbps / 20.99 Mbps / 19.99 Mbps
Chapters: 13 / 30 / 13
Case: Standard Blu-ray case(both) / Black Blu-ray case
Release date: February 4th, 2014 / May 27th, 2014 / December 14th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps (both) / Odeon is 1080i / 25 fps
Video codec: VC-1 Video /MPEG-4 AVC Video / MPEG-4 AVC Video
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)
DTS-HD Master Audio English
1563 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1563 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
• Making of (Interviews) (8:16)
• Interview with actor Jack Palance (3:58)
• Interview with Director Dan Curtis (4:23)
• Outtakes (6:28)
• TV Cuts (3:41)
• Trailer (2:51)
• Trailer (2:53)
• 2015 Resurrected Trailer (0:59)
• Picture Gallery (1:37)
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 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.
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.
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.
Odeon transfer at 25 fps, hence the shorter running time. It is also interlaced but I suspect the higher pitch of the actors' voices may be the bigger issue with this release. It is a shade lighter with cooler skin tones, but despite the different transfer - provides a decent, but not stellar, 1.78:1 presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
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.
Linear PCM 2.0 channel at 16-bit is the audio transfer for the Odeon Entertainment Blu-ray. The 4% speedup (higher pitch) will be noticed by those sensitive to it. I did in Palance's distinctive voice. Otherwise the meager effects and Robert Cobert's score sound quite clean and responsive in the uncompressed. There are no optional subtitles on the region 'B'-locked disc.
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.
Odeon don't add much in this release - an original(?) trailer, a newer 'resurrected one that resembles their menus and an moving image gallery with a lot of black and white stills floating around.
Odeon Entertainment - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
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.
I still like this although it can't hold a candle to 1992's Coppola version - and the plot is very similar taken reasonably close to Stoker's book. I would, again, lean to the MPI Blu-ray with the progressive transfer, 24-bit audio, optional subtitles and more extensive extras (and it's currently 60% OFF at Amazon - less than $8 US). If you just want to see the film, don't mind the speed-up, and can get it at a reasonable price - the Odeon should suffice. I like the black case.
February 16th, 2014
May 16th, 2014
October 20th, 2015
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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