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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The Jewel In The Crown of Classic Universal Horror DVDs

10/10
Author: gftbiloxi (gftbiloxi@yahoo.com) from Biloxi, Mississippi
21 April 2005

This DVD is the "Jewel in the Crown" of the classic Universal horror films released in that format. It includes a quality print of the Bella Lugosi Dracula, with options to play the film with Philip Glass' recent soundtrack; the so-called "Spanish" Dracula starring Carlos Villarias; and a fascinating documentary hosted by Carla Laemmle, who has a bit role in the Lugosi Dracula and who was niece to Universal studio head Carl Laemmle. There is also an audio track by David J. Skal, production notes, and the like.

The Lugosi Dracula is somewhat problematic. Dracula had been previously (and illegally) filmed as the silent NOSFERATU, and a later stage adaptation proved a staple of the British theatre. When the stage play at last arrived in New York, the title role fell to Bela Lugosi. Although Universal optioned the material, studio head Carl Laemmle was not enthusiastic about it; although European films were comfortable with the supernatural, American films were not, and Laemmle did not believe the public would accept such an irrational story. Nor was Laemmle interested in Lugosi; if Dracula was to be filmed, it would be filmed with Lon Chaney.

When Chaney died the screen role went to Lugosi by default, but there were further issues. Originally planned as a big-budget production, the deepening Great Depression made the film's box office possibilities seem even slighter than before and its budget was cut to the bone. And Todd Browning, who had been such a successful director of the macabre in the silent era, proved clumsy with sound. The resulting film was more than a little clunky--but it had two things going for it: a superior first thirty minutes and Lugosi. Although Lugosi's performance may seem excessively mannered by today's standards, audiences of the 1930s found it terrifying--and even today, when the character of Dracula comes to mind, we are more likely to think of Lugosi than other actor that later played the role.

For a brief time after the advent of sound, several studios made foreign language versions of their productions. The "Spanish" Dracula was one such film, and when the English language company wrapped for the day the Spanish speaking cast arrived and filmed through the night using the same sets. This gave the Spanish company the benefit of hindsight: they were perfectly aware of what the English language company was doing, and they deliberately set out to best it. The result is a somewhat longer, more cohesive film with some of the most arresting visuals and camera work of the early sound era. But unfortunately, star Carlos Villarias was no Bella Lugosi: although much of his performance was more subtle than Lugosi's, it was also less intimidating, and where today Lugosi seems mannered, Villarias seems unfortunately comic. In a perfect world, we would be able to insert the Lugosi performance into the "Spanish" Dracula. As it is, we are left with two deeply flawed but nonetheless fascinating films.

In their own ways, both films proved incredibly influential, and it is difficult to imagine the evolution of the classic-style horror film without reference to both the Lugosi and the "Spanish" Dracula. The Lugosi film is not perfectly restored, but the print is very, very good, easily the best I have seen. The "Spanish" Dracula has more problematic elements, partly due the fact that the film borrowed some scenic footage from the Lugosi version and snips of footage from earlier films (there even appears to be a brief clip of the ballet from the silent PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in the film); the film is sometimes dark, sometimes very spotted, but short of a cgi restoration this is probably as good as it gets.

The Philip Glass soundtrack, which is optional, tends to divide viewers. The Lugosi Dracula had virtually nothing in the way of soundtrack; the "Spanish" Dracula used music to a greater degree, but even so that degree is comparative. The Glass score is often quite interesting, but it is also as often intrusive as it is effective. Some feel it adds quite a bit to the film; others find it distracts. Whatever one's reaction to the film, either English or Spanish language, or with or without the Glass score, this is a remarkable DVD package, and fans of classic horror will find it an almost inexhaustible pleasure. I cannot recommend it too strongly.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Dracula

Author: Tim Cox from Marietta, OH
11 April 1999

Haunting film version of Bram Stoker's classic vampire with Lugosi giving the finest performance of his career. His Dracula is an amazing performance in that he brings out the horror in Dracula from those eyes. Those eyes spell out fear for me more than the sight of blood or fangs. Lugosi's performance can never be matched nor topped.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Original Boogeyman!

6/10
Author: Spuzzlightyear from Vancouver
2 January 2005

While not the brood fest as it could have been Bela Lugosi DOES pull off quite an acting feast here, as he hams it up in a rather curiously staged movie. I was wondering throughout whether the film was rewritten and rewritten as there are curious gaps (What WAS Renfield going to do with the fainted maid?) and curious pans when Dracula was getting out of the coffin that had me wondering. Of course, the fact that I watched the superior (but not by much I'm afraid) Spanish version right afterwards doesn't help I'm afraid because it makes the gaps in the film even wider. All in all, this was not bad, but certainly not great either.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Philip Glass kills Dracula!

6/10
Author: Comix from Amsterdam, Netherlands
21 November 1999

Finally, I bought Dracula on video. I remember looking on the cover of the video, saying restored version and new musical score by Philip Glass on the cover. But I was so crazed by my find that I didn't stop to think if that was the video I wanted. If I buy a video, it must be as original as the movie.

A very important part of the Universal pictures in the '30, is the music. The music is very much a character in those movies. The music adds a special mood. The new score by Philip Glass didn't add that feeling. It was irritating. For instance, when Renfield visits Count Dracula in Transsylvania. These scenes are very important because they introduce us to Dracula. When Dracula and Renfield have conversation, I had trouble concentrating because of the ridicilous score! The score wasn't a character to the film, as the original was.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

On the fence

6/10
Author: seeleyal
26 February 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I would first like to say that I believe the movie was well crafted and portrayed Dracula as the creepy, sinister character that he was. Most note-worthy is the look on his face when he is communicating through telepathy, it just gives me the heebie jeebies!!! However, I found it a little lack luster and it was difficult to keep my eyes open. I believe this is largely due to the lack of a soundtrack, it was almost purely driven by dialogue. Not to mention, the ending left me disappointed and upset that there was not a large build up in suspense. It sort of just rose about as high as a Little Tykes plastic slide and, well, fell. Don't be mistaken, I still appreciate the movie for what it is and I recognize why it was so popular following it's release considering how it was one of the better well-made horror movies of the time. Unfortunately, though, I must leave it with: 6/10, appreciated but would not watch again.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Not my favorite take on Dracula

4/10
Author: smcguirk-88356 from United States
12 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is a classic considering the time it was made and the style it was filmed in. It did create a early genre that is loved by many but the early horror films just don't do it for me. Not to mention the sub-par acting throughout this movie. The special effects were cheesy and easy to tell how they were done.Some shots in the movie did catch my fancy. The shots and lighting on his eyes did create an erie setting throughout the movie. But the slow progression of the story also caused me to become somewhat bored watching it. I would have stopped if it wasn't for the fact I need to review it. I am confused to how it received a 7.6/10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Dracula

4/10
Author: m-meehan-28239 from United States
9 March 2016

Once again there is something about horror that is extremely difficult to translate over time. I found it to be better than Frankenstein but to me that isn't saying much. I appreciate that this helps to spark later versions of this story and I bet for the time it was very important. Today vampires are very popular and that might not be possible without this film. The sets where Dracula lives are incredible. The idea of this film just seems better than the actual movie itself. Today that accent and the cape just seems corny. There was no music which I feel is really crucial in this genre it guides the audiences feelings and makes situations infinitely more eerie. Without this I feel the film suffered. The best things done were with the setting and the lighting because the shadowy shots really add to the feel that one is supposed to have when watching a movie like this.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Dracula 1931 Review

6/10
Author: gcappadona from United States
19 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I loved the beginning part of the movie! I think Dracula has a great personality about him. He is very laid back yet has an unnerving creepiness about him. The scene when Renfield goes into Count Dracula's castle is just great! First off I liked how when he walked inside the castle everything is so much bigger in proportion to him. This creates a very creepy feeling. I also love when he is walking up the stairs after Dracula; Dracula goes through the cobwebs and doesn't break them. When it is Renfield's turn he has to use his cane to break through the huge cobweb, just as a massive spider crawls by. I also loved the animals that were throughout the film. I think the armadillos, rats, and possums added to the creepiness factor. One thing that I didn't like about the movie, which also made it really slow and boring to watch, was the fact that there was no music. During the passing scenes, or when no one was talking there was just the sound of the film running in the background. This gave a veryyyyy boring feel to the movie. I did not like aspect of the film at all.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Still a good watch

8/10
Author: joem294 from United States
9 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dracula one film that will always be a classic film for film lovers especially those that have a love for the black and white films. Still it might seem simple but was so much more for when the film was actually made which is what makes me like the films so much.

The old black and white dark horror film holds its name even more with it by using as many dark scenes as possible. Why not it is a film about a vampire. The perfect stare and movements make the character of Dracula even more believable. At the same time his character seems somewhat of a gentleman, but also scary which is the perfect combination for Dracula.

The best of the movie is the darkness and using all of that dark space to make a film is even better. With shadows in just about every scene and others only faces are scene make this film so great with cinematography.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Immortal Cultural Icon.

8/10
Author: Connor Salisbury (connorsalisbury18@gmail.com) from New York, United States
8 May 2014

Dracula (1931) directed by Tod Browning is an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. The film differs from earlier adaptations as it creates the Dracula we know today, and our modern take on vampires. Nosferatu (1922) sticks closer to the source material, but the character Count Orlok is an ugly and vile looking creature. Dracula on the other hand looks handsome, and is well dressed. He is able to charm the ladies and he has the iconic look that most people think of when they envision Dracula. Bela Lugosi deserves props for his performance as the Count, as he is able to be scary whilst still being charming. The fact that he is able to combine these two things is simply gratifying. The film is great, as well. The tale is scary, and definitely goes down as one of the most influential Universal monster films of all time. Overall, Dracula (1931) deserves an 8 out of 10.

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