Dracula is a story of great love, passion, conviction, redemption, salvation – a horrific Romeo and Juliet – far more complex than simple neck-biting and bloodletting.
Prince Vladimir bids farewell to his Princess as he leaves to campaign against the Turks. When he is gone, his enemies send an arrow through the castle window, bearing a note announcing Vladimir’s death in battle. The Princess believes the message and, despairing, throws herself out of the window to die in the waters below. Vladimir returns triumphant from battle, only to find the body of his Princess lying on an altar, watched over by her loyal handmaiden. Upon being told she will not be given last rites because of her suicide, Vladimir goes mad. The valiant defender of Christianity turns against his faith, attacking priest, monks, and the holiest of symbols, the cross itself.
Centuries later, in 1897, young Jonathan Harker, a solicitor from London, is preparing to travel to Transylvania to replace his colleague, Renfield, who for unknown reasons has gone mad during his visit to Count Dracula’s castle. Jonathan is accompanied to the train station by his lovely bride, Mina, and her best friend, Lucy Westenra. Also in attendance are Arthur Holmwood Godalming and Quincey Morris, two of Lucy’s suitors, who have come to help Dr. Seward (another suitor) bring Renfield to his sanitorium to cure him. Seward has called in his mentor, Dr. Van Helsing, to help with Renfield. Renfield tries, in his crazed daze, to tell Mina what he saw in Transylvania. Mina is kind, and tries very hard to understand.
In Transylvania, Harker meets the Count and notices his odd pallor and cold touch. While Harker does paperwork for Dracula’s purchase of an estate in England, Dracula becomes obsessed with Harker’s photograph of Mina, who exactly resembles his lost 15th century princess, the woman for whom he defied the Church and became Undead. Casting a spell on Harker, Dracula disappears. Harker prepares to retire but is confronted by three beautiful, otherworldly women. They draw him into an encounter of increasing sensuality, only to be stopped by Dracula, who begins to manipulate him into the most horrific of nightmares. Harker, dazed after being attacked by Dracula, discovers he is a prisoner in the gloomy castle.
Dracula travels to England and takes up residence in his new abode. It is time for him to choose a new bride, and he hunts by day, able to go about but unable to wield the extreme powers of the night. He sees Lucy and Mina, out for an afternoon stroll which is interrupted by the funeral procession of a townsperson. Dracula disappears, knowing who his next victim will be and satisfied in the fact that he has found his former princess, now reincarnated as Mina.
At night, in the cemetery, Dracula ascends to his full powers, summoning all the undead creatures of the underworld; the Queen and the King lead the vampire gargoyles, children of the night, and bats as all come to his beckoning call in a macabre celebration of his arrival. Dracula then draws Lucy to him, causing her to sleepwalk to the cemetery, where he gives her the first of the three bites it will take to make her a vampire. He leaves her in the cemetery, where she is found by her loyal friend Mina, who has awakened to find Lucy missing and come searching for her in the middle of the night.
Lucy hosts a grand ball to announce her betrothal to Mr. Holmwood. The dashing Count Dracula is an invited guest. She introduces him to Mina and immediately Mina is drawn to him, almost as if a spell is cast on her. He seems very familiar to her. Meanwhile, Dr. Van Helsing asks Lucy to dance and notices a mark on her neck. He tells Dr. Seward and Mina his suscpicions. Lucy plays a game with the guests and mixes up partners for the waltz. Mina and Count Dracula end up dancing together. Dracula disappears, knowing he has touched Mina’s heart as well as her person. Lucy bids farewell to her guests, and sits alone savoring her memories of the ball. Dracula comes out of hiding and bites her a second time.
In Dr. Seward’s sanitorium, Renfield becomes more and more agitated and has taken to catching spiders and bugs. Lucy is brought to the sanitorium for a blood transfusion, and Mina comes with her, living in small quarters there and helping Dr. Seward with his research while she awaits her husband’s return from Transylvania. Dracula comes to the sanitorium to torment Renfield and to take blood from Lucy a third time, thus making her a vampire. Mina is drawn to Renfield’s cell by the noise but is taken away by Dr. Seward, who fears for her safety.
Mina goes to the train station to meet Jonathan, who is finally returning from Transylvania. All go to the cemetery for Lucy’s funeral. Everyone but Van Helsing believes Lucy is dead. That night, Dracula opens his crypt and brings Lucy into the underworld of the undead to initiate her as his newest bride. Van Helsing and his followers are suspicious, and hunt Lucy down in her crypt to destroy her. Dracula, tormented by Lucy’s death, begins to feel remorseful and is haunted by his past as a vampire. In a dream state, he is visited by Mina, Lucy, and his past brides, who reproach him for the harm he has done them.
Mina feels a need to choose between her world and Dracula’s. The pull is too great-she decides to join the undead. She seeks out Dracula and they exchange their blood, but just as she is close to the threshold, he stops. He does not wish Mina to live as he has. He loves her too much. As Van Helsing and the townspeople catch Dracula and Mina near the crypt, the final decision is theirs. Go together, or end the madness forever?