London’s Paddington Station is bustling with activity. Newlyweds Jonathan and Mina Harker linger at the station. Jonathan will soon leave to meet his new client, Count Dracula. Mina, unwilling to let him leave, begs him to stay. When the last train whistle blows, she realizes he must be off. As a symbol of her love, Mina gives her husband the golden cross, which just moments before had lain over her heart.
Meanwhile, R.M. Renfield, a man of limited mental capacity, comes to Dracula’s castle. He falls under the evil spell of Count Dracula and is driven crazy, frequently eating insects. While under Dracula’s control, Renfield becomes the Count’s slave and informant.
After a troubling journey, Jonathan arrives at the castle door. Dracula senses his presence and eerily greets his guest. Jonathan puts aside his misgivings about his client. After the legal papers are signed, Jonathan remembers Mina’s crucifix and removes it lovingly from his pocket. Instantly, Dracula recoils in horror. Uneasy at his hosts’ reaction to the cross, Jonathan places it back in his pocket. Dracula then begins his control over Jonathan, leading him in a hypnotic dance. Jonathan collapses in his bed, exhausted.
Strange dreams torment Jonathan. Drawn to his side are three beautiful seductresses, eager not for his love, but for his life’s blood. An enraged Dracula appears and dispels the ghostly beings with an appetizing gift. Dracula continues his domination over Jonathan, who knows he is a prisoner of this evil creature.
While Jonathan is at Dracula’s castle, a different scene is taking place across the ocean. Joyous sounds of a summer party are heard. Mina is hosting a debutante ball for her dear friend, Lucy Westerna. Three handsome suitors profess their love for the coquettish Lucy. Quincy Morris, a wealthy Texan, tries to impress Lucy with his bravura. Arthur Godalming, an English Lord, is a gracious, courtly gentleman. Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, the oldest of the three, has nothing to give Lucy but his heart. After much deliberation, Lucy makes her choice. Suddenly the party is interrupted by a violent storm, brought on by Count Dracula. The guests are frozen. Dracula makes a choice of his own, claiming Lucy with his evil bite. Dracula vanished and the guests rush to Lucy’s side. Her friends take her to the sanatorium for help.
Having waited all night, the men are no closer to knowing what has stricken Lucy. Dr. Van Helsing, suspicious of Lucy’s illness, hides his fears from the grief-stricken men. When Van Helsing discovers two bite marks on Lucy’s throat, he is moved to action. He places a heavy crucifix in Lucy’s hand. She instantly rejects it, which confirms his diagnosis that Lucy has been bitten by a vampire. Lord Godalming, distraught over Lucy’s illness, leads the men in remembering happier times with Lucy.
The entrance of an insect-eating madman shatters their reverie. Renfield, Dracula’s informant, and now Dr. Van Helsing’s patient, was sent to distract the men. The wardens and the three men recapture Renfield. Dracula comes to Lucy, biting her a second time, forever sealing her fate as a vampire.
At dawn, the men return to find Lucy’s seemingly lifeless body. They relive the evening before when they professed their love for Lucy. Mina, stunned by the death of her best friend must dress Lucy, not for her wedding, but for her burial. The funeral procession winds its way from the sanatorium to the tomb, led by a distraught Mina. At the tomb, Mina is faced with Lucy’s terrifying secret. Meanwhile, Jonathan awakes from his Transylvanian nightmare in a London sanatorium with Mina’s arms protecting him from the terror.
The men, consumed with rage over Lucy’s death, leave to seek vengeance. Renfield escapes again, this time to Mina’s side, terrifying her with a demented dance. Once again he is restrained and removed to his cell. Mina is now alone and vulnerable to Dracula’s power. The entrance of the men breaks his spell over Mina. Dracula, weakened by lack of blood, retreats to the strength of his power – Transylvania.
Mina warns the men that Lucy is not dead, but un-dead. Van Helsing, an expert on folklore and the occult, somberly informs the men what they must to do save Lucy’s immortal soul. As dawn approaches, the men come upon Lucy’s tomb, horrified, yet strengthened by their honorable task to free Lucy’s tortured soul. The men, led by Mina, turn their concentration on hunting Dracula, chasing him to Transylvania.
Once in Dracula’s castle, the hunters find Dracula’s coffin. Mina lures Dracula from his coffin as sunset nears. A dramatic struggle underscores the battle of good and evil. Jonathan, forever changed by his encounter with Dracula, ends the Count’s reign of terror by driving a stake through his heart. The dying Dracula begs Mina for mercy. Disgusted, Mina rejects Dracula once more.