In Transylvania, modern-day vampire hunter John Merriman (John E. Wengraf) brings a priest and a group of hired men to a local graveyard to help him destroy the legendary Count Dracula (Francis Lederer). But when Merriman's men open Dracula's crypt, they are stunned to find the coffin empty, unaware that Dracula has fled Transylvania and is now traveling by train to a ship that will take him to America.
In the realm of horror icons, none stand as tall as Dracula; they call him the Prince of Darkness for a reason. Since his creation in 1897 and throughout the several dozen film, TV and stage productions (Dracula has appeared onscreen more times than any character except Sherlock Holmes), Dracula has become more than just a horror villain; he's truly become one of the greatest literary creations of all time.
The casting of Francis Lederer as Dracula is an odd touch; in his late '50s at the time, Lederer gives Dracula a weight of age not seen in most Draculas, which is a nice touch. Though lacking the foreign aristocracy I associate with the character, Lederer's Dracula is appropriately foreign in personality and is a smooth talker, seducing characters as easily as he frightens them. That being said, this Dracula just isn't very menacing; he lacks any real intensity and fury behind his mask of cool swagger. It's a decent version of the character and if you like your Dracula suave and charming in the vein of Bela Lugosi, you'll find something to love about Lederer in this film. For those who want Dracula to be vicious and nasty, Lederer will leave you a bit disappointed.
Next Up: October 25th: Red Dragon (2002)