Apparently John Williams had never seen a vampire film of any sort before viewing and scoring Dracula, but this obviously pleased director John Badham since he felt Williams would come with almost no preconceptions on how scoring should be done. This effort comes after Star Wars and Close Encounters and during the same year as Jaws 2. That and Dracula piece together perhaps the most intense and turbulant year in terms of scoring styles that Williams has ever had. However, unlike Jaws 2, Dracula is somewhat more restrained and less deliberately horrific. Williams' fills the score with a dark and swirling romanticism that often sounds like a forerunner to the moodier moments of the Cloud City music from The Empire Strikes Back, most notably in the brooding opening cue.
The Main Title and Storm Sequence introduces the theme for the central character which represents Dracula as more of a malevolent force than as a pure figure of horror. While iit does not rank among one of Williams' most memorable themes, the approach and style cannot be faulted. To Scarborough is another one of those jaunty scherzos that Williams pens with regular and disturbing ease. However this one never reaches the balletic beauty of For Gillian from The Fury or his more well known efforts from Empire and so on. The quieter moments feature some some of the most low key writing I've heard from Williams; many sections with the merest hint of the full orchestra grumbling about, although when Williams wants to up the ante, he does so in typically stylish fashion, The Bat Attack being a notable highlight.
The performance by the LSO is predictably good although the recording doesn't really do it justice. It suffers from the slightly muffled sound that dogged the original Superman recording. It tends to smother the dynamics in places, although when the volume rises, the impact can still be felt admirably. I must admit that while I do quite like a nice slice of the dark and brooding, Dracula really doesn't do a great deal for me. I wonder whether I am sidetracked by the fact that it is precursor to The Empire Strikes Back, but that kind of thing doesn't bother me as a general rule. A lot of people rate the score highly, but as a personal preference, I do not find it as stimulating as either his very agressive Jaws 2 or the similarly distrubing The Fury. However, a good off the beaten track kind of a score.