The story of the strangest passion the world has ever known!
The legend of vampire Count Dracula begins here with this original 1931 Dracula film from Bela Lugosi.
Tod Browning’s Dracula was always one of my least favourite Universal Monster movies mainly because I preferred the scarier Nosferatu and the lurid technicolor of the Hammer films when getting my vampire fix. Having not seen the film in about fifteen years I was curious if my opinion of the film had improved over time and the answer is a frustrating yes and no. Its importance within not only the horror genre but film in general can not be underestimated. Not only did it kickstart Universal Studio’s own interest in the monstrous and macabre but it has shaped and influenced horror films ever since (and not just ones that feature vampires).
The film features two enduring attributes that have made…
What's the difference between Dracula and Twilight?
Dracula actually has a reason to suck.
It took seeing this on the big screen in what appeared to be a brand new restored print to appreciate just how great this really is. Director Tod Browning and cinematographer Karl Freund make excellent use of the wide, cavernous spaces of Dracula's castle in the early sequences, and that sense of dread is sustained throughout the entire movie.
Bela Lugosi in the title role is probably the most taken-for-granted great performance in all of movies, but if you can see it with fresh eyes you'll see a character with real depth - creepy, yes, but also tortured and sympathetic. I also love the bizarre line readings he gives, much like someone not used to speaking English but very much…
For one who has not lived even a single lifetime, you're a wise man, Van Helsing.
80 years later and Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Count Dracula is still the classic image most people think of when they imagine the world's most famous vampire whether or not they've seen the film. The influence of Lugosi's portrayal of the character is still felt to this day.
The film's only fault is staying too close to the play it was based on in the last act. I'm guessing this since suddenly the action is confined mostly too one room with people describing what's happening outside. The rest of the movie is too fantastic to let that bring it down though.
Part of **Halloween Season 2012**.
On one of the excellent commentary tracks for the "75th Anniversary Edition" DVD, the speaker quotes a 1927 writer who believed people liked to watch grotesque and unpleasant material on stage and screen until a line was crossed -- after which time they would draw back in repulsion. The writer was referring to the "impossibility" of adapting the Dracula stage play to film. Having recently watched the beautifully-made but troubling Martyrs, I have been considering the same question. In almost 100 years since Browning's Dracula, standards for what's appropriate on-screen have sure shifted!
This film frequently gets criticized for dating poorly, and I believe that the change in standards has got to be part of…
So much better on rewatch. Iconic would be a gross understatement. Renfield almost steals the show with some marvelous insanity, but this one belongs to Lugosi all the way. This is such a very quiet movie, and all the more engrossing for it.
The June Challenge #19
Watching Tod Browning's take on Dracula a mere day after Nosferatu opens them up for comparisons, as both have their enduring strengths as well as their unavoidable issues. Nosferatu has an unrelenting chilling tone and a wonderful design for Count Orlok brought down at points by overly bright lighting (possibly a problem only in the version I watched). Dracula has gorgeous cinematography that fully utilizes the darkness, not to mention Bela Lugosi's legendary performance, yet suffers from an overabundance of dull expository dialog between the normal populace.
1931's Dracula Is One Of My Favorite Films, I Like It Because The Only Two Universal Monster Films That Are My Favorites Are 1931's Frankenstein And 1931's Dracula.
"I prefer to remain and protect those whom you would destroy."
75 mins of grand shots of sets, smoke and shadows.
Certainly seminal for its time, undeniably influential throughout the ages, and considered one of the most famous horror movies ever made. Subsequent remakes and adaptations have been inspired by this film, it launched the Universal monster movie cycle, and led the way into Lugosi's baroque career. But shaky acting, stagebound trappings and a true lack of atmosphere brought this down completely for me. Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari have retained a more timeless quality; not only in their genuine thrills, but narrative structure, supernatural symbolism and a fantastic directing style. Having said that, I was still impressed by the shadowy design of Dracula's castle and its lavish interiors. And despite the aforementioned "shaky acting", two performances managed to…
So much to like ... so much to be underwhelmed by. The first 20 minutes or so are wonderful. Lugosi is strange and riveting. Dwight Frye steals the whole movie. He's the best Renfield on screen to date ... and when you're competing with Klaus Kinski, Roland Topor and Tom Waits, that's quite an honour. But after Dracula arrives in England, things get bogged down in creaky drawing room drama and the good moments are scarce. I don't think Browning was meant to be a director of sound films.
Full of atmosphere and a great performance from Lugosi. I did find that it dragged a little near the end but it was enjoyable and has put my faith back in the Universal classic horror films after the pretty awful Mummy film. I really enjoyed the warden of the mental hospital who brought some humour into the film which I wouldn’t have expected to work but it does. Theres a great scene where him and a girl that also works there talk about how they must be the only sane people in the whole building. Dracula’s helper was great too and gives a particularly manic performance.
#6 for Great Movies May.
Maybe I've been spoiled by seeing several great vampire films first - Vampyr, Nosferatu, Nosferatu the Vampyre (probably my favourite ever) - but I found this adaptation fairly dull. Maybe it was the lack of score (I noticed Philip Glass has done a version, I'd be interested in checking that out). I enjoyed Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein and Tod Browning's own Freaks far more.
Edit: I'm also really interested in seeing the Spanish-language version, which shot simultaneously on the same sets. I've heard it's more intense.
Early last year I bought a box set of the Universal Monster features, and unfortunately it has sat on a shelf since. Determined to work through my DVDs, and with Cat also wanting to watch a couple, we decided to start with Dracula. I had to watch this film a few years ago for an essay and I recall not being hugely fond of it - I just find the Count to be a bit of a lacklustre villain. Admittedly I did much prefer watching the film this time around, but it does still suffer from poor pacing. However, Bela Lugosi turns in an intense performance as Count Dracula, and I adored Dwight Frye as Renfield and Charles Gerrard as…