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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Dracula (1979) - in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. Richard Kaufman

    Richard Kaufman Stunt Coordinator

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    Argh! This, done on Broadway before the film with Langella and Edward Gorey's sets, was wonderful (different script). The film they made from it is an entirely different matter. It screws with much vampiric lore to no end. And killing off that major character at the end is like spitting in the eye of the audience. Francis Lederer was a better Dracula!
     
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  2. yamato72

    yamato72 Auditioning

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    This is my favorite version of the story, I saw it on TV when I was much too young and the scene where Mina re-appears in the catacombs scared the living *&$% out of me. The scene with... the reflection in the puddle just works so well that it had to stay in, vampire lore or note (I believe the producers are able to explain it away it one of the featurettes). Very much looking forward to seeing the "non-de-saturated" version.
     
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  3. warnerbro

    warnerbro Supporting Actor

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    It also has one of the all-time best soundtracks by John Williams.
     
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  4. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    The loss of the "feeling" of that scene is the one I most lamented from the de-saturated version. It can't hold a candle to that scene in full color.
     
  5. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Cinematographer
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    I was also quite scarred as a child by Mina's appearance in the catacombs. It's still one of the most horrific depictions of a vampire on film, as far as I'm concerned. I watched the film several times when it was in heavy rotation on HBO back in the early-80's and each time that scene started, I had to cover my eyes. I rewatched it a couple of years ago via a fan-made version that did a fairly-decent job of "re-saturating" the colors and still enjoyed it, though I can definitely see flaws that went over my head as a child. It has a lot going for it, but the pacing is a little too languid for my tastes. John Williams' score is one of his great ones that has been sadly overlooked over the years. While I know that Badham originally wanted to make the film in black and white to better mimic Edward Gorey's stage scenery designs, I just don't think that the desaturation performed on the film works. It may have worked better had the production originally been designed and shot with black and white (or even minimal color) in mind, but it wasn't. IIRC, Universal put the kibosh on black and white before production started, so everything was designed to be seen in color. The best black and white films chose costumes, paint colors, etc. specifically for how they would look on the monochromatic film stock. Dracula just looks like a color film that has had the colors severely dialed down. That's why I haven't really bothered with watching the black and white versions of some other films that have come out, done seemingly for the sole reason that the directors of these films thought it would be cool to have a black and white version. They weren't designed for black and white, so why bother?

    I have nothing against people who like the desaturated version. Personal taste is relative. I'm just glad that we're finally getting a decent version of the film with its original coloring intact. I've held off buying the film on DVD or Blu-ray until a widescreen version with the original colors came around. At one point, I even looked into buying an old laserdisc of the film until I realized that the only release with the original color was also P&S. To be honest, until Shout announced this set, I had given up on such a release ever happening. This release is a very pleasant surprise and I'm more than happy to throw some coin toward Shout to support it.
     
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  6. warnerbro

    warnerbro Supporting Actor

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    Very well stated, Brian Kidd!
     
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  7. warnerbro

    warnerbro Supporting Actor

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    When I think of this film, I think mostly of the scene where Mina is discovered in the cave after she is dead and is first revealed in the puddle of water. I never had any trouble with that because it was explained that she wasn't yet a full vampire or something like that. (***SPOILER FOLLOWING***) I also am blown away by the special effects stunt of the spear going through her by Laurence Oliver followed by his howls of anguish at having killed his own daughter. I also concur with Brian Kidd that the production design for this film was designed for brilliant color not de-satured or black and white. I think this is one of the most exciting releases of the year.
     
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  8. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Cinematographer
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    That's always what I assumed as well, though she was pretty "vamped-out" for her not to have been fully-turned. It didn't bother me so much. I look at it like I look at any work containing a creature from folklore in that, although there are certain "rules" that frequently appear concerning their strengths and weaknesses, these often change depending upon the author. Heck, what we now commonly refer to as Zombies, post-Romero, are a far cry from their origins in folklore. There have been so many Dracula films over the years, but very few of them adhere closely to the novel, so I'm willing to give Badham a break on this one.
     
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  9. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    I feel the same way, Brian, and the sense of overwhelming dread we get we she first appears reflected in that puddle is worth any deviance from "canon," IMO.

    It's the moment in the movie where "shit got real."

    I am so looking forward to this, it can't come fast enough.
     
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  10. lark144

    lark144 Supporting Actor

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    I saw it on Broadway with Raul Julia as Dracula against those black and white Gorey sets and it was amazing. At first I was really psyched about seeing Langella as Dracula, but when the reviews came out, realized it had nothing to do with the Gorey stage production, and lost interest.
     
  11. Harry-N

    Harry-N Producer

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    I also watched this film a number of times on HBO and even my own VHS taping from that service. Then I bought the widescreen LaserDisc and really tried hard to appreciate the dialed-down color; I tried to see it as an old classic-type horror film with a hint of color, but it never really clicked.

    When the DVD came out, I once again attempted to appreciate the blandness of the director's new version, and I think I only watched it once - and turned up the color to "max" to try to enjoy it. But the DVD's resolution really didn't allow that to be too effective.

    I almost sprang for the older Blu-ray, again hoping that my TV-tweaking would work better at Blu's resolution, but I never did. Now I'm looking forward to the full-color version that's still coming from Amazon.
     
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  12. Message #32 of 51 Nov 27, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
    warnerbro

    warnerbro Supporting Actor

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    I love the color in the new release. It has a golden and mauve color scale, but what I don't understand is that it is so soft as to be almost blurry. The desaturated version is razor sharp. Hmm. Don't understand it. It also has an intro by the director John Badham who says they just couldn't decide which version they liked best so they decided to just include both. I'd always heard he had wanted to originally film it in black and white and the producers wanted it to be in color, so he had them desaturate the laser disc. The commentary also says the original cinematographer quit because of disputes with Badham during the filming.
     
  13. Harry-N

    Harry-N Producer

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    I just received mine and can confirm this. The desaturated version appears to remain sharp all the way through, but the theatrical color version gets really soft - almost DVD-soft - at about the 15:40 point, all the way through 35:45. I don't know if this corresponds to the length of "film reels", but it's soft all the way through that section.

    It then appears to be sharp all the way through the rest of the movie. I only skimmed at fast speed, but it all looked sharp.

    Is is possible that Shout/Scream botched one of the reels?
     
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  14. Message #34 of 51 Nov 27, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
    RICK BOND

    RICK BOND Second Unit

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    I am Disappointed about the Color Disc 2 PQ. Very soft not Sharp at all. : ( It's like they said ..You wanted the Color version,here it is take it or leave it. This is the Best they could do ?? Why can't everything look like King of Kings 1961 Bluray ??
     
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  15. warnerbro

    warnerbro Supporting Actor

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    I agree with Rick Bond! Why can't everything look like King of Kings!
     
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  16. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    I agree the Image quality on the theatrical version is just a blah soft looking transfer.

    i guess with Universal its always a gamble.
     
  17. warnerbro

    warnerbro Supporting Actor

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    My favorite shot is where Dracula is upside down and looks through the window and there is a crescendo of violins.
     
  18. Harry-N

    Harry-N Producer

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    But it's not the whole thing. The soft/blurry section is only in that one 20-minute stretch from 15:35 to 35:45.
     
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  19. RICK BOND

    RICK BOND Second Unit

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    Yes, this is true. I checked it out last night. The chapters change at those spots where it goes from Sharp to Soft. ?? : (
     
  20. Harry-N

    Harry-N Producer

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    Dare I suggest that this is a mistake that needs correcting by Shout?
     

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