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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The king of all vampires, and the beginning of modern horror.

10/10
Author: elwood-x from United States
22 October 2013

What can be said about a movie that has had such a profound impact on both film and pop culture? After years of living in a decrepit castle with his vampire "brides", the notorious Count Dracula begins to mysteriously buy property in London with the help of a real estate agent named Harker. However, we soon learn that there is a sinister reason behind the Count's move, as he begins his reign of terror once he arrives in the City.

Bela Lugosi created a character that would become the standard for all vampires. Sophisticated, charming but downright horrifying, Lugosi' Dracula still holds up as one of the most magnificent horror villains. Other stand out characters include Dwight Frye's disturbing portrayal of Harker, and Edward Van Sloan's Dr. Van Helsing.

Eight decades after it first terrorized audiences, Dracula the film was falling apart. Decreased picture quality, and a significant hissing sound severely hurt the quality of one of the greatest films in the horror genre. But over the past 15 years, two great things have happened. The first, which is a bit controversial with film purists, was the inclusion of a new film score performed by renowned composer Philip Glass. I have to say, the score was much needed to help bring the film to modern times. The sophisticated, but eerie, score really adds depth to the scenes and is a profound upgrade for the quality of the film overall.

Finally, in 2012, Universal did a full scale restoration of the film (along with the other Universal monster movies) for its release on blu ray. All I can say is WOW. The picture is nearly crisp, with a more balanced picture and virtually no scratches. Furthermore, that horrible hissing noise that plagued the film is significantly reduced, and for the first time in eighty years, the sounds and dialogue are as clear as the day the film was released. These restoration processes have dramatically inflated the quality and relevance of the film, helping to cement it as one of the most significant pieces to come out of the golden age of cinema.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I Hope You Have Fangs For Great Movies!

Author: Burningcrown from United States
11 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Horror movies have always been a staple to human entertainment ever since the 1930's. I think we should examine one of the movies that started in all: Dracula.

This movie has many things to it thank make it scare people in general. The movie is almost very dark and the lighting is grim, giving the atmosphere a strong form of fear in the scene, especially the first encounter with Count Dracula himself. Another thing that gives this movie that scary detail is his (Dracula's) personality, such as showing interest in the blood that pours from Renfield's finger during their chat, which makes it evidence that he is dangerous.

All in all, this movie scared even myself and I encourage everyone else to watch and be amazed.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Excellent in All Aspects

10/10
Author: (ilvatz) from United States
29 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found this movie to be one of the greatest experiences with classic horror films that I have ever had. I usually find them slightly tacky but the excellent acting and classic storyline of this movie made it an excellent experience all around.

Lugosi never fails to amaze with his signature 'creepy' persona. He captures the feel of Count Dracula to a tee in this amazing film. You can almost see all the years of inflicting pain in his eyes every time he bites a victim. You can almost feel the conflict going on behind his eyes as he takes a victim for sustenance and snuffs out their bright light of life. The scene where he takes the girl in the asylum you can almost see the tears in his eyes as he bites the girl.

Dracula's servant also has some incredible acting in this movie. The scene on the ship where they open up the hatch and you can see him staring up at you from the inside of the ship reflects such evil and insanity that it truly makes an unforgettable impression.

Besides all of the incredible acting that this movie has to offer, the scenes are set up masterfully and truly set the mood for the film. Draculas castle, set up to be dark, dank and abandoned looking truly sets the scene for evil events to unfold. The cobwebs and long winding staircases could only be the most perfect dwelling place for the King of Vampires and lord of evil himself.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful horror film

9/10
Author: Larry Funk from United States
21 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dracula is an absolutely wonderful horror film that does a great job of unnerving the viewer. Dracula acts in a strange enough manner around others to let most people find him odd, and even after the viewer learns that he is a vampire and he has killed several people, his behavior around other people continues to kind of weird the viewer out. One of the only complaints I would have about this movie was that I thought one of the shots was overused. A close up of Dracula's face with the only light being shone on his eyes. While this does a great job of unnerving the viewer, it is used many different times throughout the film, and it does begin to lose it's luster after a while. That aside, however, I really enjoyed watching this movie.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

timelessly odd

8/10
Author: HelloTexas11 from United States
12 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Watching the 1931 version of 'Dracula' now is like watching a silent movie with occasional bits of dialogue. It is creaky, like nearly all early sound movies, and there's not even a music score (one was added nearly 70 years later.) People move slowly, there are long gaps between lines which seem unnatural. At times, the entire movie seems to be playing in slow-motion. It's hard to imagine a teenager of today sitting still long enough to watch it, much less enjoy it. But to a film buff, there is still much to enjoy and the main thing this 'Dracula' has going for it is its own peculiar, unique sense of weirdness. Bela Lugosi's vampire seems to affect the other characters without ever biting their necks. They move about as if in a daze and speak in a halting, confused manner... including Edward Van Sloane's Professor Van Helsing, who's supposed to know what's going on. Perhaps stranger than Lugosi is Dwight Frye as Renfield, with his lunatic laughter (if one could call it that). Renfield pops up in scene after scene, even after he's supposedly locked away in his room at the sanitarium. The sets are every bit as odd. The lower chambers of Dracula's castle and later Carfax Abbey are as barren as the surface of a dead planet, just dirt and pillars and a few coffins. They truly look like places no human should go, places only for rats and wolves and bats. It's hard to believe Bela Lugosi was already 49 years old when he made 'Dracula.' He looks much younger. And though he doesn't have a great deal of dialogue, his most famous lines are all here. "I never drink... wine." "The children of the night... what music they make!" "Now that you have learned what you have learned." Harder still to believe that Universal only had him play Dracula once more, 17 years later, in 'Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.' As stagy and slow-moving as it is, 'Dracula' earns its reputation as an original with its many indelible images and sparse, stark dialogue. It truly is one of a small group of films that everyone should see at least once.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

If You Haven't Seen This, You Haven't Seen Dracula

8/10
Author: sddavis63 (revsdd@gmail.com) from Durham Region, Ontario, Canada
26 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie might as well be called "Bela Lugosi." Count Dracula was the part of a lifetime for Lugosi – one that both made him a star and destroyed his acting career. He ended up being helplessly and hopelessly typecast as a result of the absolutely brilliant performance he offered as the vampire count. The voice, the eyes, the presence – all Lugosi, all Dracula. From 1931 on, whenever anyone sees or hears Bela Lugosi (no matter what part he's playing) they see or hear Dracula, and – even now, over 75 years later – when someone does an imitation of Dracula, it's done in Lugosi's Hungarian accent. The typecasting is a shame, really – because Lugosi was a superb actor. I've seen him in several films and even in the later work of his career, when many of the movies he was in were less than stellar, Lugosi – when given a meaty enough role as opposed to a cameo – could make even a weak movie worth watching. And it basically all started with Dracula.

The movie itself has some problems – foremost among them, because of the importance they play in the story – are the bat appearances. Bats don't fly like that, and they certainly can't hover! The ending struck me as rather abrupt, and I found myself thinking that there should have been more, and throughout the movie there are still examples of the transition in acting style required by the transition to "talkies" – especially what I consider to be deliberate over-acting, necessary in silent movies but sometimes distracting in "talkies." Having said that, Lugosi even pulls that off well. His overly dramatic turning away from the wolfbane or cross and cowering behind his cape is in fact overly dramatic, and yet – it's also Dracula. That's just what Dracula does when confronted by wolfbane or a cross, because it's how Lugosi played the part, and coming from Lugosi it seems perfectly natural.

The movie isn't especially frightening or suspenseful. Even for someone who had never seen it in 1931, real suspense is lacking. We find out very quickly that Count Dracula is a vampire – just a few minutes in Lugosi pops out of a coffin. The sets are very good though – creating a sense of mystery and fear, even if there's nothing overly frightening about this. Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of the story, though, the movie is made by the performances – Lugosi's obviously, but also Dwight Frye as his hapless victim Renfield, who becomes enamoured of eating flies and spiders and rats as a result of being turned into Dracula's slave. His performance is actually quite funny, and one thing lacking in the movie is any explanation of what happened to Renfield. After Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) "dispatches" Dracula does Renfield return to normal, as Mina (Helen Chandler) did, or does he spend the rest of his life in an insane asylum? That was a loose end that wasn't tied up.

I've never read Bram Stoker's original novel, so can't comment on how this movie relates to Stoker's work, but I have seen many film versions of Dracula, and this is by far the classic version. Many other actors have played the evil count, but none have pulled it off as perfectly as Bela Lugosi. 8/10.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Iconic at the every least

8/10
Author: S.R. Dipaling from Topeka, Kansas, USA
10 December 2007

While the special effects,editing and sound really FEEL like they're over seventy-five years old,the movie itself still has a good,slow,eerie feel to it. I have yet to read Stoker's novel,but I'm quite familiar with the assortment of characters(the Count,VAn Helsing,Mina,JOhn/JOnathan HArker,Renfield,Lucy,Dr.Seward,the sanitarium staff,etc.) Probably more shocking when it was originally released(one story tells of a fainting at a screening of the film),director Tod Browning's movie would be considered quaint by most standards,it still holds up in imagery and in character,with Bela Lugosi able to inject plenty into mere glances and steadily,deliberate movement. The tale of the charismatic,mysterious nobleman from Transylvania who crashes ashore off a shipwrecked cargo vessel onto England,moving into an abandoned estate in sub-urban London's Carfax Abbey feels as common and comfortable as an old slipper. The acting isn't all that exceptional,save Lugosi,Dwight Frye(as the doomed,bug-eating lackey Renfield,whose back-story seems somewhat different than I recall from other versions of the story)and perhaps Edward Van Sloan(As the fiercely incorruptible Van Helsing),but that doesn't hinder this film's message or its mood. It works on a very basic premise,that being that this Dracula sort is one effective and lethal operator.

I think that one who appreciates film legend and lore needs to take a look at this offering,for the sights and sounds are as true and necessary to the progression of film horror and melodrama as any from the "Golden age of film".

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Flawed Masterpiece

Author: Shield-3 from Kansas City, MO, USA
14 September 2001

The 1931 `Dracula' casts an imposing shadow over the horror genre. It is, after all, the movie that launched the classic Universal horror cycle of the 1930s and 1940s. It is also a tremendous influence on the look and atmosphere of horror movies in general (and vampire movies in particular). It gave Dracula a look and a voice, and created a legend.

Okay, so we know it was influential. But how does it work as a movie? Well… the first time I watched it, I was underwhelmed. The pace is slow. While Bela Lugosi's Dracula is menacing, the rest of the cast is colorless to the point of transparency. There are some good gliding camera shots here and there (thank you, Karl Freund!), but the majority of the film is locked into stationary medium and long shots. The film is tightly bound to its theatrical origins – director Browning has his characters look at things out of frame and describe them rather than just showing us, which would be much more effective.

Fortunately, `Dracula' improves with repeated viewings. The glacial pace and lack of sound in many places gives the movie a nightmarish sense of menace. In fact, `Dracula' is somewhere between a nightmare and a piece of classical music – everything proceeds at its own pace, gliding through the motions, gradually building suspense and momentum until the piece reaches climax. The end result is a flawed but haunting, hypnotic masterpiece, and one of the greatest vampire films ever made.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Stilted, Stagey, and yet still Superb.....

Author: BaronBl00d (baronbl00d@aol.com) from NC
15 February 1999

"I bid you welcome," "I never drink wine," "Children of the night...what music they make," and of course "I am Dracula" are memorable lines that resonate throughout horror films, literature, art, etc... throughout the 20th century because of a landmark film made in 1931 starring Bela Lugosi and directed by Tom Browning. This film was the birth of the horror film as we know it. Its importance can not be underestimated. Dracula is a wonderful film for so many reasons, but first let's look at its many faults.

The film is by today standards very antiquated. It has almost no soundtrack, stage acting for the most part, limited special effects, and a slow pacing. It has long parts of little action and lots of chat. It shows little while leaving much to one's imagination(a plus for those like myself that are good at envisioning what is not shown). With all this not going for it, why is Dracula such a classic? Why is it considered to be such a great film and a great horror film?

The answer is that even with all these flaws (and bear in mind some of these flaws are not flaws for all) the film offers a rich story in an eerie, atmospheric way. Bela Lugosi was Dracula. He was the model for oh so many vampires to come. His gesturing, his deliberation in speech, his facial movements all created a vampire never to be forgotten. Despite Lugosi, however, is the real genius of the film....Tod Browning. Browning created a movie and a setting hitherto imagined and conjured on a screen. Browning was the man behind the camera that created the cob-webbed stairs of the Dracula castle and the squalid emptiness of the crypt. He created the ghoulish female vampires thirsting for blood. Dracula is not just a film to see, it is film history and should be viewed with that in mind and not put under a microscope of today's languishing tastes.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

I am Dracula, I bid you welcome

8/10
Author: Maddyclassicfilms from United Kingdom
6 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Directed by Hollywood horror king Tod Browning,this 1931 take on Bram Stoker's classic horror tale gave birth to the Vampire genre of today.F.W Murnau had filmed his version of Stokers tale called Nosferatu in the twenties and in the process started a legal dispute with Stoker's estate. While Murnau's version is undoubtedly iconic and chilling,it's Browning's(slightly more accurate)take on the exploits of a certain blood sucking Count Dracula which paved the way for the Vampire genre we know so well today.

Browning's favourite actor(the so called man of a thousand faces)Lon Chaney was the director's first choice for the role of Dracula.However when Chaney sadly passed away in August 1930 the role went to stage star Bela Lugosi.Lugosi had played the Count on stage for several years and it's his performance that dominates the film.It's mouthwatering(no pun intended)to think how Chaney would have been in the role and if he would have(through his famed make up)played the count as written(as an old man)or gone for the look Lugosi gave us.

All the vampire and haunted house staples we know so well today begin here from the acres of thick cobwebs,afraid locals,bats etc.And far from being strange visually Dracula is shown as being very charming,charismatic,elegant and sexy.

Although the actual blood sucking moments happen off-screen(unlike in The Hammer versions)the build up to said scenes is suitably chilling and downright creepy.

The film is based on Stoker's novel and on the play by Hamilton Deane and John L.Balderstone. The film stars Bela Lugosi, Dwight Fry,Edward Van Sloan and Helen Chandler.

The film begins with a few bars of Swan Lake playing over the image of a carriage making it's way through the mountains.Onboard is the tragic Renfield(Dwight Frye)who is travelling to the castle of Count Dracula(Bela Lugosi)to get his signature on the lease of a house in England.After being made to feel welcome by the charming Count he is hypnotised and becomes the mindless servant of the Count.

The story then moves to the drawing rooms of England for mind games between Dracula and Van Helsing(Edward Van Sloan) and Frye almost steals the film from Lugosi as Renfield becomes a screaming,fly eating nutcase. Browning falters at the last sadly with his villain impaled off-screen with a barely audible groan.That aside what's here is top class from the performances,set design and atmosphere.

Sadly Lugosi(unlike fellow horror icon Boris Karloff)found it difficult to escape this role in the future.He played the Count again in the comedy Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein(1948).And played Dracula-like characters The Return of the Vampire(1944)and Plan 9 from Outer Space(1959).He returned to play Dracula on theatre tours a few years before his death.And when he passed away he was buried in his Dracula costume.Whether you're a horror fan,a casual fan or new to the genre make sure you watch this.

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