Director: Tod Browning
Written by: Garret Fort
Weapon of Choice: Crucifix
Based upon: novel - Dracula - Bram Stoker
Other movies in this series:
Son of Dracula
House of Frankenstein
House of Dracula
Rish Outfield's reviews
I wrote a paper on this film for school, comparing and contrasting both 1931 versions of this film, so I don't have much to say in way of a review.
Regardless of what people tell you (and they will ALL tell you this), this version is NOT inferior to the Spanish language version. True, this has been trimmed considerably in comparison and there were certain allowances in the other one this missed out on, but I think the main reason people praise the Spanish version is that everyone sees foreign-language films as artistic and special (but if they spoke that language, there would be no more novelty).
Bela Lugosi is cool, but you knew that. I think the neatest thing (if one can say something was ‘neat' in the 21st century) about this film was that it inspired me to finally read the Bram Stoker novel. I'm in the middle of it right now, and it is so great, really interesting, scary, and lovely. It's very nineteenth century, but has a timeless quality that applies to the here and now (I guess the fundamental things always do). I wish a good film could be made that was loyal to the book.
Dracula is a fantastic character, who, in his hundred year history, has embedded himself in our consciousness, invariably with Bela Lugosi's face. Although dozens of different actors have portrayed the Count, it is Lugosi we all associate with him, with no foreseeable change in the future. In fact, as I read the book, it was hard to separate him from the character in my mind; when the Count spoke, I heard Lugosi's strange, stilted English, and black-eyed stare.
Best Scare: The Count walks through a spiderweb, and it is not disturbed (hey, I'm reaching here).
I'd Recommend It To: But it's so dull . . . Though not as dull as the Spanish version.
The tyranist's thoughts
The most remarkable thing about this movie is how strange Bela Lugosi's accent is. It is so alien. He makes Dracula a much more interesting character than he would have been otherwise. Renfield is also marvelously played. After watching this it is easy to see why Universal has such a large catalog of early horror films. It wasn't the most fantastic movie ever made (not even the best Dracula), and it had major problems with the plot and dialogue, but it set the stage for what was to come and has endured the ravages of an increasingly sated society well. I find a great deal of charm in this older simpler horror film. Knowing it comes from a time much less desensetized than ours makes the fact that there are some chilling moments even more awe inspiring. I also find it fascinating that this was the real beginning of the American horror movement. Others had come before, but nothing like this. Darkness on a whole new level. Unrelenting malevolence. And yet it is a romance with all of the trappings of even the more modern romances.
In watching this again recently, I was struck by Helen Chandler's performance as Mina. She has an allure that I had not previously noticed and when she gives into the animal lusts for blood, I find her even more terrifying than Bela's Count. There is something to be said for such a performance in a time when the women of film were still weak. She is strong in her way, but understated enough to not take away from the main part of the story.
Total Skulls: 8
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie|
|Future celebrity appears|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Warning goes unheeded|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|x years before/later|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood hits camera|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|
|What the hell?|