In the late '70s, Frank Langella starred in the hit Broadway play Dracula, written by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. Langella's charisma and the surreal, black-and-white sets designed by cartoonist Edward Gorey were the chief outstanding features of the play, which was otherwise undistinguished. While this film production of the play boasts performances by stage veterans Lord Laurence Olivier and Donald Pleasance, as well as Frank Langella as the suavest of counts, it was neither a critical nor a box-office success, doubtlessly because expectations ran too high. One highlight of this production is its skillful use of special effects. The standard story of Bram Stoker's original novel is re-created here: the undead count arranges to move from his home in Transylvania to Whitby, and once there, a reign of terror begins. He is opposed by the canny Doctor Van Helsing (Laurence Olivier), who eventually triumphs.
by Clarke Fountain synopsis