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First Posted: 9/22/2014

With his Slavic cheekbones and brooding presence, Jack Palance makes an ideal vampire overlord in the new-to-Blu-ray “Dan Curtis’ Dracula” (1974, MPI, unrated, $20).

Instead of playing Drac as a strictly evil presence, Palance – a native of Lattimer Mines – emphasizes the tragedy of the Count, making him as much a victim of vampirism as a manipulator of it.

That said, Curtis (“Dark Shadows”) and scripter Richard Matheson (“The Night Strangler”) know when to pump up the action with some good scares, especially in the creepy scenes set at Dracula’s Transylvanian mansion.

In the special features, Curtis calls Palance “the best Dracula there ever was. He was the most frightening Dracula to ever put on that cape.”

Palance, who also participates in a short interview, says he was eager to star in the movie after working with Curtis on “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” But playing the neck-biter took its toll on the tough guy actor.

“Dracula was the only character I ever played who frightened me,” Palance says, noting that Drac stuck with him long after shooting wrapped.

Through the years, Palance was approached about playing Count Dracula in other film projects but he turned down those offers. He also says he never once watched himself in the Dan Curtis chiller.

“Someday,” he said back in 1994, “I might watch it to see how mean and cruel I was.”