Dracula (1931) features Bela Lugosi, in this early “talkie” film, and quickly brings all that is terrifying to the screen.
Unlike some of the other Dracula films you may have encountered, Lugosi’s Count Dracula succeeds in being alluring and sophisticated first and foremost, strolling the streets of London far more fashionable than anyone else. Of course by the time he encounters our heroine- Mina, he’s already succeeded in killing several people, is the cause of one young man’s stint in the loony bin, and has wiped out an entire ship of men.
What I found made this version of Dracula most interesting, apart from the fact that I couldn’t stop watching it, was all the things you simply didn’t see.
With Professor Van Helsing ( yes the same vampire hunter Hugh Jackman played in a movie of the same name), putting all logic in place to cure their psychotic patient ( bent on eating juicy spiders), there’s simply little than can actually be done when up against Count Dracula. Dracula’s young protégé warns that the doctors will be responsible for whatever happens to our heroine- young Miss Mina. Of course upon Dracula’s arrival, Mina, having already been bitten by the illustrious count, is overwhelmingly taken by him.
The strained playing of violin strings, the pauses between words, and the bursts of light across Dracula’s eyes are enough to make this a thrilling movie to watch in the dark and the one setting the standards for Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera and others to soon take Classic Hollywood by storm.
Watch it on the Internet Archive here Dracula (1931) if you haven’t seen this one yet. The sound of this Dracula was composed by Phillip Glass in 2000 for the restoration. If you have seen The Illusionist, you’re sure to hear the similarities in the music. Enjoy.