Any News re: 1979 Dracula w/Frank Langella????

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dave Mack, Feb 26, 2002.

  1. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    I have a soft spot for this flick! There was an absolute CRAP Dvd a few years back (OOP...) Non-annie, HORRIBLE print etc... that was VIRTUALLY black and White!!!! Suppossedly, John Badham wanted to make the film that way and with the dvd he just virtually had the color eliminated except ironically for the Cheesiest, most dated portion of the film, the 70's laser love scene!!!
    The orig. color cinematography was beautiful!!! )I have an old P&S VHS!!!!)
    Anyways, since Universal is virtually bleeding (Pun intended...) DRY their back Horror catolog, I was wondering if this would get a re-do???
    Peace!!!!! D
     
  2. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    Here's another vote for Universal issue their own SE of this film to replace the previous version. Anamorphic of course...wouldn't mind DTS remastered audio as well as a brand new transfer and isolated score and anything else they can think of.[​IMG]
     
  3. Jeff Krispow

    Jeff Krispow Stunt Coordinator

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    It's highly unlikely that you'll ever see a version of the 1979 Dracula presented in any other way than it currently is, at least in a home video format.

    Badham didn't desaturate the color for the DVD, he actually did it for the laserdisc release in 1991. Many people had the exact same arguments back then, claiming that Universal royally screwed up their transfer. But this time the public was way wrong and didn't realize that it was done on purpose. Read on...

    When he was making the film, Badham's full intent was to give the film a pale, sepia-tone look to better "place" the film in its 19th Century English country-side setting. The only thing he wanted to be in full color was that wacky love scene, and he wanted it in color to give it a surrealistic look as well as to separate it from the rest of the footage.

    Dracula was filmed on color stock, and apparently he was told he could get the look he wanted in the lab. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. The then-current processing labs of 1979 simply could not desaturate the film to the levels needed to give Badham the effect he wanted — they simply couldn't get it correct. So Badham just bit the bullet, and the film went out as is, in a full color version.

    However, the technology to accomplish this was possible and easily available when the laserdisc was produced, so Badham finally got his wish. Badham supervised the entire laserdisc transfer and made sure that the film was desaturated to his own personal specs. And, as per his original intent, the love scene was left in full color. So, it only took 12 years for Badham finally get his film "right."

    So, unless Badham changes his mind, all current and future home video releases are under contractual obligation to use his new transfer of the film. No ifs, and or buts. Of course, there is always a possibility that this might change at some future point, but it is unlikely considering Badham viewpoints on the film still hold true.

    The only way you'll likely ever see the "full-color" version would be to catch a theatrical showing at a revival house somewhere. Of course, you could always just find a pre-1991 video version (as you already have), or hope that it runs on TV using an old transfer, but neither option is a good one, unfortunately, and the image quality will likely be quite horrible.

    So, the desaturated widescreen laserdisc and DVD versions are the only way to go these days — it's features the film the way the director always intended the film to be, and they are the only available versions. Sorry.
     
  4. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

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  5. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    Hey Bill,
    I have to politely disagree as I saw this in the theatre several times in '79 and once in the 80's at a revial house and it was most certainly in full-color. I have also read that Badham supervised the transfer to laser and Subsequently to DVD that desaturated the color on a few differnt sites, and in magazines. It looks like absolute HELL that way, in my opinion.... [​IMG]
    I have a VHS from the 80's and I doubt that they could have somehow Oversaturated the prints satisfactorily for an 80's transfer to video.
    The print used for the laser and dvd transfer was in BAD shape, too, an early transfer, non-anamorphic and is out of print, so unless they do a good re-master, and properly desaturate w/ newer, better techniques, I will have to just watch my P&S VHS!!!!!!
    Peace, all!!!!
     
  6. Christian R

    Christian R Agent

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    Gotta agree with Dave here - this film definitely looked different in the theaters - that whole desaturation effect (bad move by the way John Badham!!!)only happened as he says on the home video versions - and I hate it as well. I saw this flick 6 times in the theaters and it most definitely WAS A COLOR MOVIE!!!!
     
  7. John P Grosskopf

    John P Grosskopf Second Unit

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  8. Dan M

    Dan M Second Unit

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    I saw this recently on either AMC or Sci-Fi channel recently and it was pan and scan with full color.
    The color was pretty I must admit but I for one prefer the desaturated version.
    The desaturated look adds to the gloominess of the settings and (to me) is more appropriate for the subject matter. I can't help but think this was an artistic decision on behalf of the director and not some screw up by Universal (someone feel free to correct me if they know better). It actually harkens back to the original black and white '31 Dracula in terms of atmosphere.
    Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow has a similar desaturated look and is considered to be quite beautiful (I agree)
    I'll take the widescreen almost-black-and-white '79 Dracula over the full color pan/scan Dracula any day! [​IMG]
     
  9. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    Hey Christian!!
    Thanx for the backup, bro!!!
    Dan, I can agree with you artistically about a gloomy atmospheric version but the film was not processed that way like sleepy Hollow was (which I LOVE the look of...) in a lab but instead just had the color pulled out during the transfer process in video realm, similar to as if you just lowered the color on your Monitor. Sleepy Hollow had stylistically chosen desaturation of specific color, notice the blood was a VIVID red throughout... They didn't just lower the overall color saturation.
    And boy I will bet the director of photography wouldn't have been too thrilled with this. He knew they were shooting in color. He lit his shots to reflect a certain color scheme which in my opinion WAS a bit on the sepia-like side, (check out the cinner scenes in the seward house)
    And Albert Whitlock, old-school matte painter extraordinaire, painted his quite impressive matte paintings for this in COLOR!!!!!
    Perhaps Badham (who, by the way most people in the biz would consider a "Gun for Hire" director and sometimes a Hack...) could go back now with the more sophisticated computer technology and alter the color ala "O Brother, where art thou"... and make a decnt looking version, but man, that original DVD blew chunks!!!!!!!!
    Anyways, Peace, Y'all!!!!
    Was just curious if anyone knew of any possible release!!!!
     
  10. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    ... shoot, I meant DINNER scene in the Seward house!!!!
    Peace!!!!!!! Great site and Great people on it!!!!!!
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Screenwriter

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    The general opinion of most people with regard to this film would once again prove, it would seem, that there are some times when a director would be well advised to quit tampering with a movie long after the fact and let the overwhelming majority of the public have the version of the film they prefer.
     
  12. Larry Gardner

    Larry Gardner Stunt Coordinator

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    Keep in mind that this DVD was authored back in the beginning of DVD by Image or Goodtimes (I believe), which were not know for great DVD authoring. SO a new pristine anamorphic DVD, DD 4.0 (don't think DD5.1 would be a beneift) from Universal may look somewhat different even with Badham's choice of desaturation.

    I myself enjoyed Dracula '79 with Frank Lagella. Don't see him doing anything major since then other than Masters of the Universe and Dave.

    It was a big thing when Dracula '79 was made since Hollywood normally does not use the same actor who made the role their own on Broadway - and use them to do the movie.

    And Sir Laurence Olivier as Helsing was a coup as well.

    The most intriguing thing, IMO, was the John Williams score. It was beautiful and an isolated score would be an additional treat I would like to see on a re-issue DVD from Universal.
     
  13. Dan M

    Dan M Second Unit

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    I too would love to see a re-issue of this film on DVD with a proper anamorphic transfer.

    I've always thought it was one of the better (and scarier) Dracula films ever made
     
  14. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Screenwriter

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    The titles Universal farmed out to Image, which I'm pretty sure included "Dracula" stand a decent shot of showing up on new versions someday since they have come out with a new version of "Midway" that is a vast improvement over the original. The ones they gave to Goodtimes alas are still in purgatory since Goodtimes has now gone to the trouble of rereleasing the same rotten transfers in keepcases now instead of snapper ones ("Earthquake" and the pan/scan "Gray Lady Down" among others). It seems that the new widescreen version of "Airport" was but an aberration on their part.
     
  15. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  16. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Screenwriter

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    Apples and oranges comparison IMO with regard to the LD. And that's all I'll say about that particular film until a more appropriate time.
     
  17. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    For some reason this film really connected with me as a 13 year old and I saw it several times theatrically in the summer of '79(even though it was Rated R and I should have been turned away at the door[​IMG] ). The film did indeed have much stronger color than the laserdisc and subsequent DVD re-issue of the Laser transfer. I watched the Image DVD a few weeks ago on a widescreen television and it's a travesty. This film needs to be remastered and hopefully viewers will at least be given an option to see the more colorful version; the rich color cinematography was very lovely indeed on the big screen.
     

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