Season 2, Episode 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Lie to Me,” had Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) childhood crush Billy Fordham (Jason Behr) coming to town; he sees her slay a vampire and learns she is the Slayer, something he apparently already knew. He betrays her and trades Buffy to the season’s villain, Spike (James Marsters), in order to be turned into a vampire because he is dying.
I bet you’re wondering what this has to do with anything. In the vampire club that Ford has joined, there are televisions throughout playing Dan Curtis’s Dracula starring Jack Palance. Being the huge Buffy nerd I am, I had to check out the film.
This 1974 version of Dracula was a Made-for-TV movie directed by Dan Curtis, who wrote and directed Dark Shadows. It is actually just like watching a long episode of Dark Shadows, which doesn’t bother me because I loved the show. Anyone who hated it, however, probably won’t like this movie all that much.
The overdone dramatics and cheeseball love stories are signature of Dan Curtis, who seems to have really wanted to play up the tragic love story of Dracula. He wrote Palance’s Count Dracula into this strange guy who gives off the same vibes as the suspected neighborhood child molester. He then tries to be scary, which comes off as strange because you already know him as that weird guy.
While it may sound like I hated the movie, I didn’t. It is actually incredibly fun to watch while performing Mystery Science Theater-like commentary. Jack Palance is such an unlikely Count Dracula and fits into the character like a square peg in a round hole. That is why most of you had no idea he even played the character. The majority of people will name Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman to have played Dracula, some may even mention the sometimes forgotten Gerard Butler, but very rarely will you ever hear Jack Palance mentioned.
It’s a shame that people haven’t seen the movie because it is very entertaining, mostly because Palance has bottom teeth like Ludo from Labyrinth and his woe face looks more like a severe case of constipation. Still, it was better than Argento’s Dracula.
Dan Curtis’s Dracula is available on Blu-ray this week. Gather your funniest friends around to watch with you and be sure to video tape the inevitably hilarious commentary.