Bram Stoker’s Dracula UHD Steelbook Review

4 Stars Not one of Coppola’s best
Bram Stoker's Dracula review

Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula makes its second appearance on UHD Blu-ray, using the same transfer but adding Dolby Vision HDR.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Released: 13 Nov 1992
Rated: R
Runtime: 128 min
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Genre: Horror
Cast: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves
Writer(s): Bram Stoker (novel), James V. Hart (screenplay)
Plot: The centuries old vampire Count Dracula comes to England to seduce his barrister Jonathan Harker's fiancée Mina Murray and inflict havoc in the foreign land.
IMDB rating: 7.5
MetaScore: 57

Disc Information
Studio: Sony
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 8 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc SteelBook
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 10/04/2022
MSRP: $38.99

The Production: 2.5/5

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a screenplay by James V. Hart (Contact), tries to be a “faithful” adaptation of the source novel with an all-star cast. While the production design by Thomas Sanders (Braveheart, Crimson Peak) is definitely turn of the century gothic with plenty of sex and gore, the film moves extremely slow, making the 127 minute runtime feel more like three hours.  Much of the acting is over the top, especially Gary Oldman as Dracula, Tom Waits as Renfield, and Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing. Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes, Billy Campbell, and Monica Bellucci round out the cast.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

This new release appears to be the same transfer used in the 2017 UHD release, but in addition to HDR10 Sony has added Dolby Vision high dynamic range to provide slightly better luminance levels for those with DV-capable displays and included the original burned-in subtitles. This is a gorgeous transfer, with organic film grain and exceptional fine details such as fabric textures, even visible seams in the backdrops. Contrast is also excellent, with deep blacks and strong shadow detail.

Audio: 5/5

The default Dolby Atmos track is very immersive and wide. LFE is strong, surrounds are very active, and dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.

Special Features: 4.5/5

Sony has included two previously unreleased bonus features on the UHD disc, with all of the other special features on the included 2015 Blu-ray release.

UHD Disc
Love Song for a Vampire Music Video (upscaled 1080p; 4:24): Annie Lennox performs the song featured in the end credits.

Blood Lines: Dracula – The Man, the Myth, the Movies (upscaled 1080p; 28:22): A half-hour TV special (?) that takes a look behind the scenes and the mythology of Dracula himself.

Blu-ray Disc
Audio Commentary with Director Francis Ford Coppola, Visual Effects Supervisor Roman Coppola and Makeup Supervisor Greg Cannom

Audio Commentary with Director Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola Introduction (1080p; 3:55)

Reflections in Blood: Francis Ford Coppola and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1080p; 29:11)

Practical Magicians: A Collaboration Between Father and Son (1080p; 20:07)

The Blood is the Life: The Making of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1080p; 27:48)

The Costumes are the Sets: The Design of Eiko Ishioka (1080p; 14:02)

In Camera: Naïve Visual Effects (1080p; 18:46)

Method and Madness: Visualizing Dracula (1080p; 12:06)

Deleted and Extended Scenes (1080i; 28:14)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula “Beware” Trailer (1080p; 1:31)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:36)

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy in UHD on Movies Anywhere.

Overall: 4/5

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of Francis Ford Coppola’s more divisive films, and this reviewer is still not a big fan of it 30 years later. The presentation, however, is exceptional. Should owners of the previous UHD release upgrade to this one? Not likely, unless they must have the movie in Dolby Vision, with original subtitles, the two previously unreleased special features, or a steelbook case (or any combination of the above).

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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Malcolm R

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Love this film. My only major negative is Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker. This film came out around the same time I wrote a major term paper for a college English class on the novel, so I was all amped up at the time for all things "Dracula".

I recently got this release and look forward to spinning it up for the Scary Movie challenge, though I don't yet have a 4K display so all the HDR stuff is lost on me for now.
 

Lord Dalek

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CORRECTION:

The film was theatrically released in the 8-channel SDDS format, and it just so happens that this was the first movie I was able to see in that format back in 1992, and sounds like that was the source for this mix.

Bram Stoker's Dracula was originally issued in Dolby Digital. In fact it was Sony's ONLY film in that format for the next three years as they would launch SDDS in the summer of 1993.
 

Bryan Tuck

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CORRECTION:



Bram Stoker's Dracula was originally issued in Dolby Digital. In fact it was Sony's ONLY film in that format for the next three years as they would launch SDDS in the summer of 1993.

And the included 5.1 track appears to be that original Dolby Digital mix, which they left off last time.

Also, the English 2.0 is presumably the original theatrical stereo track, but for some reason, it has a completely different music cue at the very end of the movie (right before the credits start). I know there were some differences between the Dolby Digital and the Dolby Stereo track, but I thought it was just some additional sound effects in the DD.
 

Lord Dalek

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And the included 5.1 track appears to be that original Dolby Digital mix, which they left off last time.

Also, the English 2.0 is presumably the original theatrical stereo track, but for some reason, it has a completely different music cue at the very end of the movie (right before the credits start). I know there were some differences between the Dolby Digital and the Dolby Stereo track, but I thought it was just some additional sound effects in the DD.
IIRC the old Criterion laserdisc was actually a re-mixdown from the same 6-track the Dolby Digital was mastered from instead of the original 2.0 SR track.
 

Bryan Tuck

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IIRC the old Criterion laserdisc was actually a re-mixdown from the same 6-track the Dolby Digital was mastered from instead of the original 2.0 SR track.

It was, but the audio for the standard Columbia Tristar laserdisc was supposedly taken from the SR. It's missing those SFX, but has the same music cue at the end as every other track. (I own too many copies of this movie. :rolleyes:)
 

Todd Erwin

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CORRECTION:



Bram Stoker's Dracula was originally issued in Dolby Digital. In fact it was Sony's ONLY film in that format for the next three years as they would launch SDDS in the summer of 1993.
I have corrected my review, but I could have sworn that I saw the SDDS trailer prior to the film (the longer one where you can hear a man walking and speaking out of each speaker).
 

Bryan Tuck

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I have corrected my review, but I could have sworn that I saw the SDDS trailer prior to the film (the longer one where you can hear a man walking and speaking out of each speaker).

Maybe you're thinking of MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN a couple of years later?

The first film released in SDDS was LAST ACTION HERO in 1993.
 

James Luckard

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Maybe you're thinking of MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN a couple of years later?

The first film released in SDDS was LAST ACTION HERO in 1993.
Yep, I remember pretty clearly when DTS premiered with Jurassic Park that summer and SDDS premiered a week later with Last Action Hero. There were lots of articles about the two competing formats.
 

JimJasper

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A strangely bewitching film....every time.....interesting about the sound formats. Anyway, I remember driving by the theater when this was released in 1992, and there was a line outside the theater (which was in a large new mall in Springfield Oregon), and a line that was about 100 yards long of people on a cold November Friday.

1665889101876.png
 
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uncledougie

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Got this to show the eldest nephew last night; my closest Best Buy was supposed to have one copy but it couldn’t be found, so had to drive to the next closest, which ironically just happened to be about 100 yards from the now demolished theater where I saw it 30 years ago. I hadn’t intended to get the latest steelbook release, thinking the Blu-ray was probably sufficient. But the reviews induced me to purchase, especially since they included Dolby Vision, and I was truly impressed with both picture and sound. The visuals were appropriately dark but detail was clear and subtle gradations pretty amazing. I doubt it looked better in that old theater and it couldn’t have sounded better because the Atmos track was to my aging ears quite immersive (fell in love all over with Annie Lennox’s Love Song for a Vampire during the end credits, and appreciated having the music video included as a new extra, though it wasn’t remastered.) No need to upgrade in the future - but I’m glad I bothered to track this release down.
 

Malcolm R

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Per the review, this is likely the only difference:

"This new release appears to be the same transfer used in the 2017 UHD release, but in addition to HDR10 Sony has added Dolby Vision high dynamic range to provide slightly better luminance levels for those with DV-capable displays and included the original burned-in subtitles."

If you don't care about DV and are OK with the font replacement for the subtitles, you're probably OK.
 

Bryan Tuck

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Per the review, this is likely the only difference:

"This new release appears to be the same transfer used in the 2017 UHD release, but in addition to HDR10 Sony has added Dolby Vision high dynamic range to provide slightly better luminance levels for those with DV-capable displays and included the original burned-in subtitles."

If you don't care about DV and are OK with the font replacement for the subtitles, you're probably OK.

The new release also contains the original 5.1 sound mix in addition to the Atmos remix. There's also a 2.0 stereo track, which is presumably the original Dolby Stereo mix, though as I indicated above, I think there's an error in it.
 

Carlo_M

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Just got this set (it's one of those movies that, as K said in Men in Black, "looks like I'm going to have to buy The White Album again...").

Was going back and forth with the BD (switching inputs) and while the application of DV on an older film is sometimes a hit-or-miss proposition, I do think it was fairly well done in this release. Nothing that caught my eye's attention in a negative way, which is about as good as one could hope with a film containing as moody a color and contrast palette as this one.

What I'm about to write is a YMMV, but I cannot get over how much of a difference having subtitle fonts that match the tone/look of the film adds to the experience. Just watching the opening scene where Vlad renounces God and contrasting the player generated subs of the BD (yes they didn't put the matching subtitle font in the BD, only the UHD disc of the set) with the subs on the 4K disc make a significant difference to my viewing experience.

It reminds me of a release of This is Spinal Tap, I think on DVD or maybe an early BD release, where they decided to get fancy and use the player generated subs. Not only were they blocky in comparison to the smoother burned in subs, but the timing of when the subs popped up...which was part of the joke...was ruined by different timing on the player gen subs. An example: the timing of when "Bobby Flekman" pops up onscreen only pops up after the band is asking who she is and she says her name. The player gen subs appeared too early, ruining the timing of it. They eventually corrected this in a later release on BD which restored the burned in subs.

I understand the cost-cutting measure of going with player gen subs (it makes international releases easier as they can be easily adapted to foreign languages) but in certain films, the original burned in subs (or a very close approximation, I can't tell if these in Dracula are the originals from the theatrical prints or if they're using more advanced font and color capabilities of 4K players) are the way to go. The only reason I don't know if these are the original is that they look a bit brighter and "newer" than the other burned in wording like "LONDON, 1897" which has roughly similar (but I don't think identical) font as the subs and have a more aged look than the ones for Vlad's dialogue. Whether identical or not, they're much closer and add to the mood vs. the white sans serif player gen fonts on the BD.
 

Charles Smith

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It reminds me of a release of This is Spinal Tap, I think on DVD or maybe an early BD release, where they decided to get fancy and use the player generated subs. Not only were they blocky in comparison to the smoother burned in subs, but the timing of when the subs popped up...which was part of the joke...was ruined by different timing on the player gen subs.

That happened on the first Blu-ray release of Annie Hall. Sadly, the company releasing it again later (I'm thinking Arrow?) said they understood the issue and could correct that timing...and the rights holder said: No.
 

Carlo_M

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This may be an issue that's deserving of its own thread, but I wonder why more studios (or disc producers) don't take advantage of the advanced subtitling options on even standard BD players (I've confirmed the screencap below happens on both an older Oppo 103 BD player and a current Panasonic UHD player playing the 2008 Godfather Blu-Ray "Coppola Restoration" that was a product of our very own Mr. Robert Harris. Note this is simply by enabling the English subtitles on the player via the disc menu. Note how the subtitles are more period appropriate in looks (vs. the standard sans serif) and are also colored yellow/sepia to match the film. So clearly this capability has been in the BD playback technology for decades, but very few discs use it. Godfather did. And Dracula may (if it's not the original burned in subs).

Apologies for the progress bar, it won't go away when on pause, and also the inaccurate picture quality, it was taken with my phone which was struggling to match what's onscreen, so if anyone checks this out, it won't look exactly like the screencap since the phone's aggressive color and tone correction did some work on it. But it's illustrative enough to get the point across, it's not the standard white colored sans serif (Helvetica?) font that is present on the majority of discs.

IMG_3505.jpg
 

Vincent_P

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Per the review, this is likely the only difference:

"This new release appears to be the same transfer used in the 2017 UHD release, but in addition to HDR10 Sony has added Dolby Vision high dynamic range to provide slightly better luminance levels for those with DV-capable displays and included the original burned-in subtitles."

If you don't care about DV and are OK with the font replacement for the subtitles, you're probably OK.
Actually, the entire prologue on the 25th Anniversary release seems to have been scanned from a lower-generation source (maybe a textless IP?), and as a result looks appreciably less detailed than what we have on this new 30th Anniversary release, so it's not just the subtitles themselves. That entire opening scene looks A LOT better on this new release compared to the 25th Anniversary UHD. A couple comparisons from that opening prologue between the two releases: https://caps-a-holic.com/c.php?go=1&a=0&d1=17697&d2=17696&s1=199118&s2=199119&i=1&l=1 https://caps-a-holic.com/c.php?d1=17697&d2=17696&s1=199112&s2=199083&x=0&y=0&i=2&a=0&go=1&l=1

Vincent
 
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