Dracula ('31)


Here we have another review subject that I'm flip-flopping on. As a teenager, Dracula was my least favorite Universal horror film. I recognized its place in horror history, but to be blunt, I didn't like it. Well, it's official...I like it. I watched the version with the exquisite Philip Glass score. I finally see what all the fuss is about. Tod Browning's direction is imperial. He knows when to zoom in, when to keep the camera still and when to let Lugosi do his thing. The atmosphere is suffocatingly bleak. The opening scene where the Count meets Renfield in the austere hills of Transylvania is absolutely chilling. This is a movie you need to watch under a thick blanket.

Speaking of everyone's favorite Romanian dipsomaniac, he was in his magnetic prime here. At times, all you see is his pasty visage floating in the darkness. Creepy! I'm a big Lugosi fan, although I prefer Max Schrek's turn as Count Orlock in Nosferatu. Both performances hit home, and I can't imagine anyone but Bela himself playing this Dracula. The film is chalked full of iconic imagery...the castle, the winding staircase, the widow's peak, the bats, the coffins, the undead concubines and their soulless eyes. Now that's what I'm talking about! If you don't put Dracula on your Halloween party to-do list, you're crazy.

The last 20 minutes are dull. I'm more patient than I used to be, but most die-hards will tell you that this film's climax doesn't have much of a pulse. It's for this reason why I've always preferred Frankenstein. Be that as it may, I'm glad that I took a chance on Browning's adaptation of the Bram Stoker classic. Tomorrow, I'll be posting a mini-review of the Spanish version of Dracula, which was filmed at the same time as the American version (using the same script and the same sets!). Early next month, I'll be tackling another Drac pic. When it comes to bloodsucker romps, it's my personal favorite of the lot. What could it be??? Stay tuned and find out!


  1. I love the first part of this movie when Renfield comes to Transylvania, and a few scenes after that, but it really does get dull once Drac arrives in England. I actually prefer the original "Swan Lake" music score. I've always associated that music with horror because of this movie. I'm with you on 'Frankenstein' being the better Universal horror, though.

  2. I love the beginning and Renfield is one of the greatest actors ever - when Dracula actually speaks I love his lines - but I agree that this movie slows down too much ultimately. The ending is also too quick of a finale. I guess they hadn't heard of drawn-out endings back then.