Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dracula (1931)

Now in these last two days until Halloween, I think it would be appropriate to talk about the king of all the monsters out there, Count Dracula. You might have read the Bram Stoker novel the number of film adaptations it is based off of. The only ones I have seen are both 1931 versions. At first you might be thinking, "What? They made two adaptations back in 1931?" Yes they did, and I will look at both of them in these last two days. Today, I will look at the classic 1931 masterpiece, "Dracula," directed by Tod Browning.

What makes this film so great? Bela Lugosi. He is a Hungarian actor who did not know English, but only learned it through the roles that he was doing either on stage or on screen. Originally, the king of the silent film era, Lon Chaney, was supposed to play Dracula, but he died before they could even start production on the movie. So they went for Bela Lugosi instead. The rhythm and accent of Dracula's voice in this movie would forever be imitated in that same way. If you ever hear someone impersonating Dracula, they are mimicking Lugosi's Dracula. You have to love it when Lugosi delivers such great lines like, "I am Dracula," "Listen to them, children of the night. What music they make," and "I have charted a ship that will take us to England. We will be leaving tomorrow eeeeevening." I know that Lugosi was not the first person to play Dracula, since in 1922, "Nosferatu" was released, but remember, I haven't seen that one yet. I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to it, but time will tell. Lugosi was the first person to set the image of Dracula into the mainstream pop culture. He was even buried in the Dracula cape. The way Lugosi had portrayed Dracula in here; you know that he gave the right spook value to make you afraid of Dracula. When he gives you that famous scary stare, you know that you would be in serious trouble.

Since this was 1931, Universal Studios had made all the famous horror icons have their own sound picture, since talking movies were born in the 30s. It would be obvious to start off with Dracula, since that book is probably the most popular amongst the other novels the horror icons were in. And because this was one of the first sound pictures, they didn't add any music during the movie. Unless you count the opening title screen and the end credits, but still, there isn't any music. This is a slow paced movie, but because of the parts where there isn't any audio or dialogue spoken, that just adds to the creepy, surreal atmosphere of Transylvania. This is why this is, hands down, the best Dracula movie ever made.

The supporting cast also does a great job all around. Helen Chandler does an excellent job as Mina Harker, the woman who gets bitten by Dracula. David Manners gives out the hard work and commitment he did for his role as John Harker, Mina's fianc . Dwight Frye as Renfeld, goodness, what can I say? He is completely demented. Especially you have to love his line, "Rats, Rats, RATS!" Even his laugh would make you pass out, and people always imitate that laugh as well. Herbert Bunston as Dr. Seward is very convincing. Charles K. Gerrard as Renfield's assistant, Martin, does lighten up the mood as the comic relief. Edward Von Sloan as Dr. Van Helsing is really believable in the role, as the man who wants to kill Dracula.

Overall, I give this film a solid 10. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Halloween is tomorrow folks. Go out and watch it to celebrate the holiday with so you can be scared. But how good is the other version? And what is that version about? Find out tomorrow in the epic conclusion to "Halloween Month."
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