Dracula

  • Title:  Dracula
  • Director:  Tod Browning
  • Date:  1931
  • Studio:  Universal
  • Genre:  Horror, Drama, Classic
  • Cast:  Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, Edward Van Sloan
  • Format:  Standard, Black and White
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“Listen to them, children of the night, what music they make.” — Dracula, regarding a wolf howl 

“The strength of the vampire is… that people will not believe in him.” — Van Helsing

This movie, along with Frankenstein and “The Wolf Man” (to be reviewed later) are extras on the Van Helsing collector’s box set. It’s nice to see the originals. Dracula itself is a short movie (only 74 minutes) and it really doesn’t make much sense, to be honest. Renfield goes to Transylvania with some papers for Dracula to sign — Dracula is very strange. They take a boat to London, during the crossing there’s a nasty storm, and all the crew are killed. Renfield survives the trip but he’s nuts, eating bugs and spiders for their blood. In London, Dracula meets Lucy, Mina, and John Harker — all famous characters from the novel. There’s also Dr. Van Helsing, who eventually figures out Dracula is a vampire — especially when he doesn’t show up in mirrors, as well as eventually saving Mina by killing Dracula.

There is some very nice direction, especially Dracula’s reaction when Renfield gets a papercut, and subsequently when the rosary one of the village ladies has given Renfield falls into Dracula’s line of sight. Throughout the movie, there’s also a light on Dracula’s eyes, so them seem to glow, weirdly, and that’s quite effective. Dracula also has strong powers of hypnotism, especially towards the young women. Only Van Helsing is able to counter it. Dracula also telepathically speaks to and controls both Mina and Renfield – an interesting idea, not seen in many more recent versions of Dracula or vampire fiction.

Oh — and Mina’s silver gown is gorgeous! The fabric is flowing and the silver color practically glows – I loved it!

Overall, the movie is slow, though fortunately short. I haven’t ever read the book, though I get the impression this may be a more fateful adaptation. Bela Lugosi is actually good as Dracula, but it’s unfortunate that I’m so used to parodies of his accent that it’s hard to keep a straight face at times.

Recommendation:  Overall, such a classic it deserves to be seen.
Rating:  3 of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Easter Parade

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