This and Werner Herzog's 'Nosferatu' were the two big vampire remakes of 1979, though Herzog's film got better press.It's fashionable in horror-geek circles to snicker at John Badham's version; like the 1931 Lugosi film, it follows the Hamilton Dean/John L. Balderston stage play more closely than it does Bram Stoker. For what it is, though, it's not bad at all.
Granted, it's staged and composed like Masterpiece Theatre, and Frank Langella, with his blow-dried hair and open-shirt gigolo charm, isn't a very menacing Dracula. Despite a nicely atmospheric opening scene aboard a boat and a truly chilling moment in a tomb, this Dracula isn't really a horror movie. It's more of a romantic spectacle, with heavy emphasis on Dracula's seduction of Lucy Seward (Kate Nelligan). But Langella, who also played the role on the stage, makes us believe in Dracula's unearthly erotic power; few other screen Draculas could convince us that women would chuck everything to be with them forever — certainly not Lugosi, and not even Christopher Lee in his prime.Purists were offended that the film is set in Edwardian England, rather than late-Victorian; purists were offended by much else. What they didn't see was that it communicates, far more vividly than the inert 1931 version, the rapture and horror that coexist in undeath.