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Drácula (1931)

Unrated | | Fantasy, Horror | 24 April 1931 (USA)
Centuries-old vampire Dracula preys upon the innocent Eva and her friends.

Directors:

George Melford, Enrique Tovar Ávalos (uncredited)

Writers:

Bram Stoker (novel), Baltasar Fernández Cué (Spanish adaptation) (as B. Fernandez Cue)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Carlos Villarías ... Conde Drácula (as Carlos Villar)
Lupita Tovar ... Eva
Barry Norton ... Juan Harker
Pablo Álvarez Rubio Pablo Álvarez Rubio ... Renfield
Eduardo Arozamena Eduardo Arozamena ... Van Helsing
José Soriano Viosca José Soriano Viosca ... Doctor Seward
Carmen Guerrero Carmen Guerrero ... Lucía
Amelia Senisterra Amelia Senisterra ... Marta
Manuel Arbó ... Martín
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

Spanish | Hungarian

Release Date:

24 April 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dracula, Spanish Version See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$66,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director George Melford did not speak or understand Spanish. See more »

Goofs

The three brides of Dracula that are seen in the catacombs are not the three that set upon Renfield. The catacombs shot was stock footage from Dracula, and thus the three actresses playing the brides are different. See more »

Connections

Edited from The Storm Breaker (1925) See more »

Soundtracks

Swan Lake, Op.20
(1877) (uncredited)
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (uncredited)
Excerpt played during the opening credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Villarias Bites
11 June 2007 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

Language was no barrier to Hollywood in the silent era: title cards were easily translated from English. When sound began to roar, Hollywood began to fear the loss of its foreign markets--and so, for a brief time, the studios occasionally produced two versions of certain films, one in English and one in another language, most often German or Spanish. Such was the case with the 1931 Dracula.

According to film historian and author David J. Skal, producer Paul Kohner fell in love with Mexican-born actress Lupita Tovar (they later married), and his romantic interest prompted the suggestion that she star in a Spanish-language version of the film. When the English language cast wrapped for the day, the Spanish language cast arrived and worked through the night using the same sets.

Most of Hollywood's foreign-language duplicates were forgotten as quickly as they were released, but the Spanish Dracula would be the exception. Todd Browning, who directed the English language film starring Bela Lugosi, was extremely uncomfortable with sound technology. While the first fifteen minutes or so his film are exceptional, the movie thereafter becomes a filmed stage play--and a very choppy and rather unimaginative stage play at that. Instead of simply duplicating Browning's set-ups, producer Kohner and director George Melford set out to best him, and when the Spanish version debuted most viewers declared it greatly superior to the English version.

And in many respects it is. Whereas Browning's version is visually flat and rather slow, the Spanish Dracula is visually exciting, and although it is considerably longer than the English version the pace never drags. It also has it all over the Browning version in terms of editing, and it has a cohesion the Browning version completely lacks. The supporting cast is also quite fine, with Lupita Tovar a standout, easily besting Helen Chandler's remarkably tiresome performance in the English version.

But the Spanish Dracula has a problem, and it's a big one: actor Carlos Villarias, billed here as Carlos Villar. Villarias had a respectable film career throughout the 1930s and 1940s, but he met his match in Dracula; where Lugosi intoned, snarled, and endowed the vampire with an elegant evil, Villarias goes through the film with a series of expressions that lead one to believe he has just encountered an overflowing toilet. His flaring nostrils and disgusted glances are so incredibly out of place that they quickly become unintentionally hilarious.

Lugosi's performance, of course, is generally considered the ultimate statement of the role, and with good reason. In a perfect world, we would be able to snatch Villarias out of the Spanish Dracula and insert Lugosi in his place; the result would be a truly amazing film from start to finish. As it is, however, we are stuck with Villarias, and frankly he bites.

The VHS release of the Spanish Dracula is out of print, but the film is available on the same disk with the Universal release of the more widely known Todd Browning version. By and large the film quality is remarkably good; it has not, however, received a digital remaster, and at least one of the reels would greatly benefit from it. If you are a fan of 1930s horror, you'll find it more than worth the effort, but I suspect more casual viewers will be reduced to hysterical laughter by the Villarias performance.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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