At midnight on Walpurgis Night, an English clerk, Renfield, arrives at Count Dracula's castle in the Carpathian Mountains. After signing papers to take over a ruined abbey near London, Dracula drives Renfield mad and commands obedience. Renfield escorts the boxed count on a death ship to London. From there, the Count is introduced into the society of his neighbor, Dr. Seward, who runs an asylum. Dracula makes short work of family friend, Lucia Weston, then begins his assault on Eva Seward, the doctor's daughter. A visiting expert in the occult, Van Helsing, recognizes Dracula for who he is, and there begins a battle for Eva's body and soul. Written by
Hunchbacked dwarf John George is the only actor with speaking parts in both the English and Spanish versions. When Van Helsing is explaining about vampires to a group clustered around a desk, George says, "nosferatu". He is on the extreme right in the Spanish version, on the left in the English version. See more »
If my facts are straight, this much touted Spanish version of "Dracula" was considered lost for many years until its rediscovery in the 1970s--upon which many a critic and film historian flocked to view this rare "gem" & seemingly all at once proclaimed it better than its more famous English cousin.
Perhaps the novelty of finding this similar, but in many aspects different alternate take on the Tod Browning classic led to such clamoring, though given the many years in which viewers have been accustomed to videotape & now DVD--in which a back-to-back comparison of the two films is a very simple exercise--the fawning many do over Melford's 'Drac' seems a bit in the extreme, particularly such critical observations of how Melford upstages the English film "scene by scene, shot by shot". Having recently viewed both films, it's my opinion that a shot-for-shot comparison doesn't prove very detrimental at all to Señor Browning.
For instance, the much raved about moving camera of George Robinson doesn't really show much more mobility than Karl Freund's. Yes, there is the shot of the camera roving up the stairs in Drac's castle, but aside from that & a few other minor instances, Melford & Robinson keep the camera as still as the oft-derided Browning. Btw, I found it more than a bit amusing that the critters Browning has roaming around the cellars of Dracula's castle--the opossum and bug escaping from a miniature coffin--were retained by Melford.
The really big difference in movies is seeing the different angles which Melford shot many of his scenes from & how he makes more use of the outside portico in many of the later drawing room scenes. For those of us familiar with the Lugosi film, this can make for an interesting visual variety, but does this really equate to "better" or "masterful" directing?
It's not my intention to slam this version of Dracula. I think any horror fan should give it a few looks to see how two different production teams can interpret a single script & put their own creative twists on it. From that standpoint, the Spanish "Dracula" is required viewing, but hardly the "scathing critique" of its English counterpart that many have proclaimed it to be.
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