A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.
Jonathan Harker begets the ire of Count Dracula after he accepts a job at the vampire's castle under false pretenses, forcing his colleague Dr. Van Helsing to destroy the predatory villain when he targets Harker's loved ones.
After a harrowing ride through the Carpathian mountains in eastern Europe, Renfield enters castle Dracula to finalize the transferral of Carfax Abbey in London to Count Dracula, who is in actuality a vampire. Renfield is drugged by the eerily hypnotic count, and turned into one of his thralls, protecting him during his sea voyage to London. After sucking the blood and turning the young Lucy Weston into a vampire, Dracula turns his attention to her friend Mina Seward, daughter of Dr. Seward who then calls in a specialist, Dr. Van Helsing, to diagnose the sudden deterioration of Mina's health. Van Helsing, realizing that Dracula is indeed a vampire, tries to prepare Mina's fiance, John Harker, and Dr. Seward for what is to come and the measures that will have to be taken to prevent Mina from becoming one of the undead.Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
Bette Davis (who had a contract at Universal at the time) was considered to play the part of Mina Harker. However, Universal head Carl Laemmle Jr. didn't think too highly of her sex appeal. See more »
When Dracula and Renfield first enter the castle bedroom, the door is closing by itself, hinged on the right side; after a scene shift the door is seen still closing (when it should have been shut by now), but is now hinged on the opposite side. See more »
Young Girl Passenger:
[reading from a Transylvanian tourist brochure]
"Among the rugged peaks that crown down upon the Borgo Pass are found crumbling castles of a bygone age."
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Joan Standing, who played Briggs, was credited as the maid, who was actually played by Moon Carroll. See more »
Also released in a silent version for theatres not yet talkie equipped. See more »
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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