When Bela Lugosi died in 1956, he was buried wearing one of his many black silk capes, but not the one he wore in Dracula. That one was put on auction by his son, Bela Lugosi Jr. in 2011. The starting bid being set at $1,200,000, it failed to sell and so the cape is believed to still be in his son's possession. There is also a persisting, yet untrue, rumor that it was Lugosi's dying wish when, in fact, it was decided by his son and his mother, Lugosi's ex-wife, Lillian Arch.
Similar to the prologue in Frankenstein (1931), the original release featured an epilogue with Edward Van Sloan talking to the audience about what they have just seen. This was removed for the 1936 re-release and is now assumed to be lost.
While it is rumored that Bela Lugosi, could not speak English very well, and had to learn his lines phonetically, this is not true. Lugosi was speaking English as well as he ever would by the time this was filmed.
There was no real musical soundtrack in the film because it was believed that, with sound being such a recent innovation in films, the audience would not accept hearing music in a scene if there was no explanation for it being there (e.g., the orchestra playing off camera when Dracula meets Mina at the theatre).
Bela Lugosi was so eager to repeat his stage success and play the Count Dracula role for the film version, that he agreed to a contract paying him $500 per week for a seven week shooting schedule, an insultingly small amount even during the days of the Depression.
In the scene where Dracula and Renfield are traveling to London by boat, the footage shown is borrowed from a Universal silent film called The Storm Breaker (1925). Silent films were projected at a different frames-per-second speed from that later adopted for sound films, accounting for the jerky movements and quicker-than-normal action of these shots.
Among the living creatures we see in Dracula's castle in Transylvania are Opussums, Armadillos, and an insect known as a Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopalmatus Fuscus). This insect was common in Southern California, which may explain its cameo in the film.
The large, expansive sets built for the Transylvania castle and Carfax Abbey sequences remained standing after filming was completed, and were used by Universal Pictures for many other movies for over a decade.
Several famous elements often associated with Dracula are not visible in this film. At no point does Dracula display fangs. Also, the famous vampire bite mark on the neck is never shown either (though it is visible in the Spanish version).
The original Broadway production of "Dracula" starring Bela Lugosi opened at the Fulton Theater on October 5, 1927 and ran for 261 performances. Also in the original cast was Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing and Herbert Bunston as Doctor Seward. These three were the only actors from the original 1927 Broadway production to repeat their roles in the film.
When Universal purchased the rights to the 1927 Broadway play, Lon Chaney was considered for the title role. However, Chaney died on August 26, 1930, and the role went to Bela Lugosi. His son Lon Chaney Jr. would later play Count Alucard, the son of Count Dracula, in Son of Dracula (1943).
Universal's original plan was to make a big-budget adaptation of "Dracula" that would strictly adhere to the Bram Stoker novel. However, after the stock market crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression, Universal chose not to risk an investment on such a sprawling film. Instead, it adapted the much less expensive Hamilton Deane stage play.
Before he was cast as Count Dracula, Bela Lugosi acted as an unpaid intermediary for Universal Pictures in negotiating with the widow of author Bram Stoker in an attempt to persuade her to lower her asking price for the filming rights to the Dracula property. After two months of negotiations, Mrs. Stoker reportedly lowered her price from $200,000 to $60,000. This, however, further demonstrated to Universal how eager Lugosi was to repeat his stage success as Count Dracula and secure the film role for himself.
After viewing the initial cut, Universal president Carl Laemmle Sr. reportedly said that the film gave him the "heebie-jeebies" and ordered that it be re-edited. Tod Browning was bitterly disappointed by the studio's 11th hour re-edit, and claimed that his best work ended up on the editing room floor. The re-cut apparently introduced a number of continuity errors into the film, which disappear when fans have re-edited the film to match the continuity of the shooting script. See "Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning" by David J. Skal and discussion at monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/topic/40203/DRACULA-Restored.
The innkeeper says to Renfield in front of the inn, "The driver -- he is afraid -- Walpurgis Night." (0:02:55). This is a partly anglicized form of the German Walpurgis-nacht (the Eve of Saint Walpurgis), the evening of April 30, also known as May Eve (the eve of May Day). This night is one of several during the year in which supernatural beings of various kinds roam at large, according to the traditional superstitions of various regions.
Richard Matheson claimed, in an interview with the Archive of American Television, to have conceived of his famous science fiction story 'I Am Legend' after viewing this film: "My mind drifted off, and I thought, 'If one vampire is scary, what if the whole world is full of vampires?'".
Apparently morose over the loss of friend and collaborator Lon Chaney and in the midst of severe alcoholism, the normally meticulous Tod Browning was said to have been sullen and unprofessional during the shoot. Among his actions were to leave set, leaving cinematographer Karl Freund to direct scenes. He would also recklessly tear pages out of the script if he felt them to be redundant.
Bela Lugosi played the role of Dracula on Broadway in 1927 before touring the country with the show. The American performance of the British stage actor Hamilton Deane's adaptation of the book was a smashing success. Soon after the play began touring Universal started to express interest in the script.
John Carradine was among the actors considered for the title role. However, there is no corroborating evidence from that time period, only Carradine's own later testimony. He also claimed to have turned down a makeup test for the Monster in Frankenstein (1931), due to the absence of dialogue. This statement seems to have a greater bearing of truth, as the actor did indeed work at Universal in the late spring-early summer of 1931, on Heaven on Earth (1931).
The film was met with very mixed reactions upon its release in Bela Lugosi's home country of Hungary. Critics already considered Dracula adaptations to be "old hat" and singled out Lugosi's performance as the worst part of the movie. According to contemporary newspaper articles, even theater audiences would at times loudly mock the film as it played, causing the entire room to erupt in laughter throughout the movie. Lugosi's Dracula became part of public consciousness in Hungary, even though the film itself was mostly forgotten for several decades until it received a limited DVD release in 2004.
When Dracula arrives at the theater, the music heard coming from the orchestra is the beginning of Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony." When he enters the seating area, the music heard is the ending of Richard Wagner's Overture to the opera "Die Meistersinger." Later in the scene, the music from the Unfinished Symphony is heard again.
According to writer and film historian David J. Skal, he was informed by actor David Manners of what it was like being on the set. During their interview, Manners explained how the production was very disorganised and that Tod Browning hardly showed any interest in directing the film. None of the cast members took filming seriously, except for Bela Lugosi. David Manners witnessed Lugosi strolling up and down the set with his cloak wrapped around him and saying, "I am Dracula."
Contrary to popular belief, This film does not contain the famous Organ Piece "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" The film that does contain the organ piece is "The Black Cat (1934)" Which also stars Bela Lugosi.
Helen Chandler, who played Mina Seward, was convinced she was heading for superstardom after making "Dracula." She was described as suffering from delusions of grandeur and with "her head up in the clouds." By the time Chandler died in the 1960s, she had long been forgotten.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The studio did not want the scene where Dracula attacks Renfield to be filmed due to the perceived gay subtext of the situation. A memo was sent to the director stating "Dracula is only to attack women".
When this film was re-released after the Production Code was strictly enforced in 1934, several deletions were ordered made to the soundtrack. The deletions include Renfield's scream as he is being killed and Dracula's moan as the stake is driven through his heart. These deletions have been restored.
The shooting script features a scene not found in the film in which Van Helsing kills Lucy following her transformation into a vampire. In the scene, Van Helsing brings John into the graveyard to prove the existence of vampires. There, they witness Lucy walking into a mausoleum. After consoling John, Van Helsing pulls a parcel from his pocket and makes clear his intentions to follow Lucy and destroy her. At this point, the film was to have cut back to a scene of Dracula abducting Mina.
In an ironic twist of fate, Bela Lugosi was seen with blood dripping down his lips in Daughters Who Pay (1925), whereas his Dracula never was! His character there, Serge, forcibly kisses the leading lady, who was dancing with a rose between her lips. The thorns in the stem cut him and, after being seen bleeding from the mouth, Bela's Serge proceeds to touch a kerchief to his lips.