Archive | August, 2011

The Dracula Movies #5: ‘El Conde Dracula’ (1970)

17 Aug

Crreeeeeeaaak!Thud! Aha, there you are! As I arise once again from my coffin, let us see what cinematic delight can quench our thirst! After Hammer’s seminal take on Stoker’s book in 1958 (and the long series that followed it), there was another adaptation by the BBC in 1968 (starring Denholm Elliot). This version is especially difficult to get hold of, and therefore has not been viewed by my good self. Interestingly it was screened on television the same year Hammer released Dracula has risen from the grave. Whether it could compete with Hammer’s lurid and sexually enticing blend of horror remains to be seen.

So, onwards to 1970, and the next film adaptation of Stoker’s novel:

Count Dracula (El Conde Dracula) (Jess Franco, 1970)

A very commendable idea in theory that is just poorly realised, Jess Franco’s take on Dracula is just a tiring mess of a motion picture. The whole film drags and even the standout parts, such as Christopher Lee’s more restrained and faithful portrayal, can’t really rescue the film from anything other than an intriguing curio. At first the film stays reasonably close to Stoker’s novel before becoming a bit of a muddled narrative. Early in the film, Lee’s monologue and the castle scenes were very watchable, and the scene with the brides taking the baby promised some genuine horror to follow. But as things progressed I found myself wondering what was happening on more than one occasion and Franco’s direction didn’t help (he’s a bit too over fond of his zoom lens, I have to say). Continue reading

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“Forget the ladies for once, Bond”, The James Bond blogs: ‘The Living Daylights” (1987)

7 Aug

“I bet I scared the Living daylights out of her”, smirks Bond as he considers the blonde sniper he managed to shoot at before she did. The same could have been said of an audience used to the on screen exploits of Roger Moore for 12 years. Fans of Roger’s light-hearted interpretation may well have been a bit scared about the new gritty direction the franchise seemed headed in. This of course was completely deliberate. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli concurred that the series needed to get back to its roots, and that meant the literary creation of Ian Fleming. Add to that idea Timothy Dalton, a Shakespearean actor well known for his intense roles, and 007 had never looked so interesting. Veteran Bond writer Richard Maibaum then set to work on a script with Michael Wilson that would showcase this new direction with the first segment of the film being a faithful adaptation of Fleming’s short story of the same name. The presentation also sometimes lacks the spectacle and glamour of earlier Bonds. Even in the more ‘realistic’ espionage tales there was plenty of gloss. However The Living daylights still looks more like a classy Bond film than parts of A View to a Kill, and the unofficial film Never say never again, which sometimes looked like the TV movie of the week. Continue reading