Blood for Dracula (1974) | 4K Blu-ray Review


Last year, Severin Films launched a site exclusive remaster for the 1974 horror-comedy, Blood for Dracula. After several months it has now finally been set loose across the major retailers. Severin has had a range of great and not so great releases on the UHD format, so let’s find out which pile this one falls into and if it’s really worth its premium price tag.


If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Buy it here!

Blood for Dracula 4K Blu-ray cover art

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-100)
Blu-ray (BD-50)
Compact Disc
Released By:Severin Films
Release Date:June 25th, 2021
Video Format / Codec:4K: H.265 (HEVC)
BR: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Resolution:4K: Native 4K, 2160/24p
BR: Full HD, 1080/24p
Digital Intermediate (DI):4K (from negatives)
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):HDR10
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K/BR):
DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
Subtitles:English SDH
Packaging:3-disc Digipack with slipbox
Region Coding:4K: Region-free
BR: Region-free

Video Review:

Severin Films went back to the original uncut negatives to get a brand new 4K scan, do some extensive work to clean it up and then slap a fresh color grade on it. The results of their efforts on the detail front are anything less than stunning. With only a few exceptions each scene in the film looks sharp, detailed and full of life. Whether it be from closeups of skin, the texture and natural appearance of hair (or likewise the slicked texture of Dracula’s hair), wood grain details in the set pieces, or the fine details in both ordinary and ornate costuming, the new transfer to a fantastic job of revealing every last bit. The film grain is present throughout and it is on the heavier side, but in no way displeasing. It looks natural and organic to the presentation for 90% of the film. The one exception, and I’ll highlight this scene again in a moment, is the tavern scene as the grain structure gets much heavier, detail gets just a bit soft and overall it stood out, not so much as in it looks so bad, as that the rest of the scenes look so good that it becomes immediately apparent.

On the color side of things, this does have a brand new HDR10 powered color grade and it looks really quite good. The overall color grade looks natural throughout, and the primaries all get a nice boost where greens, reds and blues all get elevated providing a rich and lifelike palette to the movie. The red of blood and lipstick pop on the screen, the green grasses and vegetables are noticeably full and the little blue-toned jewelry pieces all just pop a bit more. That said, I will also note that it is not perfect. There are times when the skin tone get a bit too red/pink for my liking, but this is fleeting and not something I found to ruin my enjoyment of the film. On the highlights and shadows they mostly look good with shadow detail getting revealed and blacks diving down to deep and inky. Highlights are mostly in check, although there were a few minor instances where they would get a bit hot and lose detail. Circling back to the tavern scene, this is once again probably the worst of the issues where the blacks do get a bit crushed, shadows drop to black and we lose separation of Dracula’s cloak and the background. That said, this is likely how this scene was captured, whether intentional or not, and given the excellent look of the rest of the remaster, I have to imagine they did what they could with what they were working with.

The included Blu-ray, I believe comes from the same restoration work, but it is a bit of a different story than what we received on the 4K disc. The most immediately noticeable difference is that color palette. It is much more flat and desaturated. This is not a result of the smaller color gamut available on the format, as this would be noticeably the case even when comparing to other Blu-ray discs. It also is a bit softer here and there, but it never gets to the point where I thought it looked bad. Some folks who don’t love the richer, more vibrant colors on the 4K version of the film may actually prefer this treatment on the Blu-ray, but I generally found it to be the inferior choice of the two.

Video Score (4K): 4.7 / 5 (Excellent)

Video Score (BR): 3.9 / 5 (Good)

Comparison:

Audio Review:

You get the same mix on both discs in the form of a stereographic mono track in DTS-HD Master Audio. It’s a solid track, resulting in a relatively clean audio presentation. Dialogue, the main focus of the movie sounds clear and full, the musical score sounds well balanced and clear, although it lacks a bit in the bottom end. Bass is not absent, but certainly not a highlight of the presentation. Overall it sounds appropriate for the vintage of the film and I do not think this would have benefited from any time of multi-channel remix, so I’m generally pleased.

Audio Score (4K/BR): 4.1 / 5 (Very Good)

Special Features and Packaging:

Severin put together a nice list of extras for this package. Not only did we get the music on the soundtrack on it’s own standalone CD, but we also received about 4 hours of on disc extras comprised of extensive interviews ranging from director Paul Morrissey, actors Stefania Casini, Udo Kier and more and a dive into the musical score with composer Claudio Gizzi. It was all very fascinating, full of personality and something I would definitely revisit. The biggest disappointment here was the lack of an audio commentary track, whether it be an archival one from past releases, or something new to add into the mix.

For packaging, Severin put all three discs in a nicely adorned Digipack inside a nice crisp white slipbox. The interior features some nice photographs and is awash in blood red hues. And each of the three discs gets its own thematically appropriate artwork. The only really gripe here is the slipbox could have been a bit more sturdy feeling given the asking price.

Blood for Dracula Overview

Features Score: 4.5 / 5 (Excellent)

Buy/Upgrade-worthiness:

Normally I would make the assumption that most folks reading this would be mostly interested in the 4K disc, but as this movie is not easy to track down on a standalone Blu-ray, that should also be considered. The 4K presentation is excellent and if you are a fan, you will be very pleased. The 1080p presentation is not nearly as strong, so while I would be more hesitant if other releases were out on the market, I would still recommend this release if you need to have the film in your collection. The biggest challenge here will be the price. Depending where you look this will range for $40-$60 dollars. It is a premium release and I think for those who are a big fan and collector the value does justify the price (especially the lower end of that range). That said if you are tight on budget, only a die hard fan of the film will likely be able to justify the asking price.


Buy/Upgrade Recommendation: Yes* (If you have the extra bucks)

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Buy it here!

Summary and Overall Scores:

Severin did an outstanding job in bringing this horror comedy to life on the 4K format. Factoring in all of the aspects makes this overall score a bit misleading as if just looking at that 4K disc it would certainly fall one level above. So while it has some flaws, it overall is a high quality release and will make fans of the film and collectors happy to have it up on their shelves.

Experience Score**: 4.5 / 5  (Excellent)

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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