In 18th century Delft, a young man (Ganz) tries to improve his prospects by travelling to Transylvania to meet and advise Count Dracula (Kinski). This meeting with the world weary Count endangers not only himself, but also his wife and his hometown.
It is clear from the start of Herzog's film that aesthetics and symbolism play an important part in it, and that he is trying to break away from the usual vampire imagery. However, it is hard to describe this as a horror film. More of a gothic romance, Adjani looks ethereal in her beauty but Ganz as her husband struggles to create any impact with his part. Meanwhile Kinski as Dracula gives a performance that makes Gary Oldman's more recent interpreation of the part look understated, both visually and artistically. It is no exaggeration that while he is on screen he is hard to ignore.
In an effort to move away from the Hammer horror principles and make a serious vampire film, Herzog has cheated himself and the viewer. While visually stunning in many ways, it is too focused on the symbolism. It is a simple and well-known story but sadly this version overcomplicates it to its detriment. The stylish photography and masterful performances are hints at how good it could have been.
Read about FW Murnau's 1922 original.