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Classic vampire movie is more creepy than violent.
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Stark, cold, and deeply sensual, "Dracula's" atmosphere and intention is rooted in a fear of unknown lust and desire from which there can be no escape. To view "Dracula" is to be bitten by the vampire's desperate attack.
Lugosi's seminal performance and the striking opening act are what distinguish Browning's version of the classic tale.
The opening scenes, set in Dracula's castle, are magnificent -- grave, stately, and severe. But the film becomes unbearably static once the action moves to England.
Dracula deserves its status as a classic, although one might be tempted to append the word 'lesser' to that label.
With Mr. Browning's imaginative direction and Mr. Lugosi's makeup and weird gestures, this picture succeeds to some extent in its grand guignol intentions.
Certainly it is Lugosi's performance, and the cinematography of Karl Freund, that make Tod Browning's film such an influential Hollywood picture.
A classic despite numerous flaws.
All time horror classic starring Lugosi; still creepy as blazes.
A perfect example of the worst traits of Hollywood films in the early sound era.
Not by any means the masterpiece of fond memory or reputation, although the first twenty minutes are astonishingly fluid and brilliantly shot by Karl Freund.
A sublimated ghost story related with all surface seriousness and above all with a remarkably effective background of creepy atmosphere.
From the special features on the Legacy Collection set I learned that because of budget constraints this was based more on the Broadway play in which Bela Lugosi had starred than a lavish and long faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's original work. Also Tod Browning had been a successful silent film director, which could account for the minimized dialog and sometimes effective silent Gothic atmosphere. Bela Lugosi's performance is of course iconic. Harker is pushed to the background as a romantic straight man who assists Van Helsing minimally in saving Mina and putting an end to Dracula. Instead Renfield (Dwight Frye) takes the trip to Transylvania, which is kind of like a flashback. We see Renfield come under Dracula's control only to return home and be put in a mental ward. As Dracula's servant, Renfield plays the expected role in the story, but is given more focus than in the novel. The way Frye performs hasn't aged well. Why would men bitten by Dracula show symptoms so different from women bitten by Dracula? I don't think this version of Van Helsing was a very good match for the evil force that is Dracula. Then on the other hand, this Dracula is such a gentleman that he doesn't seem like that great of a threat, so an elderly doctor who spreads a smelly weed around or flashes a tiny pocket cross may be all that is needed. The camera pans or cuts away from every transformation, rising from a coffin, or bite that an audience would expect to see today. And again the last act has a weak climax that ends too soon.
this classic never gets old, and in fact seems to become even more charming with time. so simple, but highly entertaining, the film contains perfect characterizations and a short and manageable running time. this will forever be a horror staple.
"I am Dracula. I bid you welcome." Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula was first translated to the screen in director F.W. Murnau's unauthorised German rendering Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922). Nine years later, Universal Studios produced 1931's Dracula - the first official filmic adaptation of Stoker's novel, with the inimitable Bela Lugosi portraying the titular vampire. The golden era of Universal monster movies commenced with this 1931 production, and, although it was eclipsed by Frankenstein (released later in the same year), this film's importance in the annals of motion picture history is overwhelming. In fact, Dracula is a solid example of a film's reputation surpassing its content - as a standalone movie it's flawed, but as a phenomenon it's profoundly and eternally influential on our culture. Despite being known as the first official film adaptation of Stoker's novel, Dracula is not directly based on this source material - instead, due to legal and financial mumbo jumbo, the movie is directly descended from a British stage production by Hamilton Deane that was in circulation during the mid-1920s. The story kicks off as a British real estate agent named Renfield (Frye) is travelling through the mountains of Transylvania to the decrepit and decaying Castle Dracula. His business is to organise the lease of a London abbey for the mysterious Count Dracula (Lugosi). During this visit, however, Renfield falls under the Count's spell. Meanwhile, once Dracula sets up residence in England, he begins to prey upon his neighbours - more specifically young woman. Enter Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Van Sloan) who believes in ancient legends of the living dead, and knows how to protect oneself from an involuntary blood donation. To date, F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu remains the most artistic, chilling and atmospheric take on the Dracula story. Tod Browning's 1931 edition cannot equal the earlier movie in terms of effect or chills, but it does have its fair share of memorable moments. In retrospect, however, Browning was a subpar choice to helm the film. Though he developed a solid reputation as a director of silent pictures, Browning was clearly out of his element here - with a few exceptions, he lacked the basic skill required to craft a compelling horror movie. Later in 1931, James Whale's Frankenstein illuminated the weaknesses of Dracula - shots are at times too long, pacing is quite clumsy, editing is clunky, and dialogue is unconvincing. The special effects are cheesy as well - you can practically see the strings holding the bats in the air. Some of these flaws can be attributed to Browning's on-set demeanour: he was sullen due to the death of Lon Chaney, and reportedly acted unprofessionally throughout the shoot. In fact, Browning reportedly left the set on several occasions, leaving cinematographer Karl Freund to direct scenes. The most heartbreaking thing is the lack of chills, as the vampire attack scenes are simply not very effective. Nevertheless, Browning did achieve a creepy atmosphere at times, with long periods of silence and stylised movement. Dracula's biggest asset, though, is the lighting and set design. The vast sets, particularly Dracula's castle, are spectacular, and convey a sense of size almost unequalled by set-work in more contemporary filmmaking. At times Dracula does play out like a silent film, with extended periods sans dialogue. No musical soundtrack was included for the film's theatrical release, as it was believed that (with sound being such a recent innovation in films) viewers would not accept hearing music in a scene unless there is a real source (like an orchestra that plays off-camera when Dracula is at the theatre). Interestingly, despite this being such a renowned vampire film, Dracula at no point displays his fangs. No vampire bite marks on the neck are ever visible, as well. It's also interesting to note that Universal Studios simultaneously produced a Spanish version of Dracula with a Spanish cast and crew - they used the same script and sets, and filmed at night after Browning's crew were done for the day. Bela Lugosi's performance is another primary strength of Dracula. In fact, Lugosi's portrayal has become so famous and ingrained in popular culture that kids may quote him without knowing the origin of what they're saying (what kid hasn't said "I vant to suck your blood"?). While not as terrifying as Max Schreck (who portrayed the Dracula character in Nosferatu), Lugosi is excellent here, and this is by far his most famous role. In fact, when Lugosi died in 1956 he was buried wearing the silk cape he wore for this movie. Interestingly, before Lugosi got the part, the role was meant for Lon Chaney, but he died before filming. Alongside Lugosi, Dwight Frye is chilling and engaging as Renfield. But outside of Frye and Lugosi, the acting is almost uniformly drab, with performances which would be better suited for a silent picture. David Manners is wooden as John Harker, and often appears to be standing around waiting for someone to direct him. Helen Chandler is bland as well, though Edward Van Sloan did a commendable job as Van Helsing. Measured by contemporary standards, this 1931 rendering of Dracula is dated, hokey and at times monotonous, yet it still provides a few shivers. The film is never scary, mind you - it's just eerie, moody and filled with despair. It is ragged around the edges and suffers from serious technical problems, but these are not enough to prevent it from being appreciated. Essentially, Dracula is a self-recommending classic that must be seen by lovers of cinema.
Ah yes, along with the two Frankenstein films by James Whale, this is one of the most important and influential horror films not only of its time, but all time. This is really Lugosi's show,providing the characterization that has basically become the definitive one any time someone mentions or thinks of Dracula-from the look to the mannerisms, and voice. Dwight Frye is also very good as the maniacial Renfield, given the second best performance of the film. This is more of a chiller than a gruesome slasher type film. It's creepy, atmospheric, moody, and has a very ethereal quality about it. All of this is supported by great art direction, set design, lighting, and the absence of music. This was one of the first sound films, and, aside from the titles, there's no other music, and very little other sound, save for dialogue and some of the sound effects. This adds to the atmosphere, but also makes it hard to sit through. Indeed, considering its length, this is a slow film, and I'll admit i had a hard time getting through it. Despite all that though, this is one of those films that is required viewing hands down.
I gotta admit I almost fell asleep while watching this movie.. I mean, come on.. this is a vampire movie and they didnt even show the Dracula bit the victims.. that's just wrong.. Even for classic, this is so corny.. and one more thing: where's the goddamn background score when we need them!? I prefer Tod Browning's Freak...
For its time, it is great. While I am not a fan of Bela Lugosi's Dracula at all, the rest of the film is almost flawless. Renfield was always the creepiest character, his eyes and crazy make-up is just so bizarre. The look and style is still amazing to this day. It is perfectly outfitted in the gothic tone.
The genesis of Universal's classic horror era, Todd Browning's Dracula has, sadly, not withstood the test of time quite as well as it's namesake. Even so, Lugosi's performance is nothing short of iconic and is still considered the definitive personification of what a vampire is supposed to be. This might be the most influential film ever made.
The original classic, this is beautiful stuff, Lugosi is awesome and the look is terrific. Its not really sexy as some Dracs are but the acting is just great. There's just something about the old black and white horror flicks.
one of a kind, genre producing, life affirming, low on calories, and good for your liver, what more could you ask for?
The first great Universal monster movie Dracula stars Bela Lugosi as the Count in the classic Bram Stoker tale of his trip to England, seduction of women and confrontation with Van Helsing. Directed by Tod Browning, who would go on and direct the equally impressive Freaks, Dracula is shot in such a style that it soon becomes its own entity. The film is its own style with shadow playing a huge role and the dank and dusty castles and caves soon becoming standard vampire movie fodder. The real greatness in Dracula comes from Bela Lugosi. I own a copy of Stokers novel and who does Dracula look like on the cover? That's right. He created the role for the stage and made it an icon on the screen. No one ever filled Lugosi's shoes in the 75 + years since the release of the film. It's easy to see how Dracula scared the hell out of audiences back in the '30's. Not only was he the walking dead, he was also an erotic character to a degree. Lugosi's presence was center stage in the film. Of the Universal monsters Dracula was the first and one of the best (I have to tie him with Frankenstein). A classic tale that never really had justice to it in the decades sine its original release.
This version of Dracula is the first widely released film of the tale since the German Nosferatu. It does not take directly from the novel, written by Bram Stoker, and instead uses the stage play, which actor Bela Lugosi performed in before being cast in this MGM classic. Dracula here has never been so seminal, suave, and adamantly foreign. Unlike the hideous incarnation of the famed monster in Nosferatu, here Dracula wears beautiful black capes, has a legion of wives, and travels great distances only to appear in London under an assumed name to find his next victim. In attendance to the dark lord is an entranced lawyer named Renfield, played by the insanely creepy Dwight Frye, giving a performance that leaves an everlasting impression. Most of the film is made up of interesting performances, most notably of Lugosi himself, who took a criminally low wage in order to take on the role he first performed on stage. He even negotiated the rights for the play and book for the MGM. Lugosi is certainly enigmatic, many scenes showing penlights being shone into those dark orbs, brows lowered in mock irritation and sensuality. The way Lugosi uses his hands, his aura permeating every scene, whether flanked by fake spider webs, the foggy docks of the London harbor, the box at the theater, or one hand moving out of his wooden coffin, ready to strike. The two leads who portrayed victim Mina and her beau John were slightly annoying. Mina was susceptible to fainting spells, high pitched screams, and expressions of lost innocence while John's face only held the expressions of concern and horror. The atmosphere of the film was quite interesting, the vampire running throughout the cityscape, his influence over his victims and accomplice evident from the fear they showcased. The chase between the vampire and the famous Van Helsing wasn't as thrilling, years later, and the lack of sound was less off-putting than empty. This was one of two performances Lugosi had as Dracula, while also portraying characters like the vampire in other MGM films. His performance is one of the best in history, and there's no one else who can carry that heavy Hungarian drawl so many years later.
Dracula released in 1931 is probably the most famous version of Bram Stoker's classic work ever put on-screen. This is a brilliant piece of cinema in the early year's of the silver screen. Universal cemented itself as a leader in the horror genre, and released many classic films that set the standards for many years to come. Dracula made Bela Lugosi a star and ultimately a horror icon of the classic era of film. Although often overshadowed by Boris Karloff, his performance here definitely is a much more in depth performance, as Lugosi brings charisma to the title character that Karloff didn't seem to have. I'm not saying that one is better than the other, all I'm saying is that Lugosi had a bit more screen presence and on-screen demeanor due to his larger speaking role. The film itself has a strong sense of atmosphere, which is key to build effective chills and suspense. This a flawless horror picture that stands out even today because the idea issi simple, yet due to Lugosi you are just captivated and mesmerized by his performance. There has been countless films based on Dracula, however this version along with Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film really stand out because they bring a great cast to tell the Bram Stoker classic which have made vampires such an integral part of the horror genre. Bela Lugosi is wonderful here and his hypnotic performance is among the greatest ever filmed. Dracula remains one of the best vampire films, and its influence on the genre is still apparent today. A definite must see for horror fans.
Now this is what you call a classic! It's a film that you can watch over and over again, as long as you have patience, and become incredibly immersed in the acting, since there was absolutely no score, which kind of takes e out of it at times, and there seems to be a missing element of suspense. Still, the story is fantastic and it's definitely one that has inspired the entire horror genre, and for that, I am totally in it's debt. The edited may be choppy for it's time, but the camerawork is far superior to even some of the films shot in todays day and age. I honesty commend the cinematographers of this film. "Dracula" is definitely one of the best horror classics out there!
1931 brings us the true definition of a vampire. Director Tod Browning presents another famous monster movie and introduces another classic monster, Dracula. The notable vampire is played by Bela Lugosi, another horror icon and he does a fantastic job in his role. Not only did Lugosi present how we all interpret Dracula today, but he's failed to be outdone. Not one actor has played a vampire better than Lugosi. (If you say Robert Pattinson, you deserve to get hit with shovel.) There's just something really creepy about Lugosi in this. He has great screen presence and his line delivery is equally as terrifying. He has a lot of notable lines like "Children of the night...what music they make." In short, Bela Lugosi is awesome as Dracula. The main plot of the movie is a man goes to a castle for business matters and he comes across Dracula. That's part of the storyline, but we're also introduced to Van Helsing played by Edward Van Sloan. I know most people think of that one movie with Hugh Jackman when they think of Van Helsing, but I find this interpretation more interesting. He's a badass, but everything he does isn't forced like in the Hugh Jackman version. One thing I really enjoy about this movie is the really creepy atmosphere. Since this was the first horror movie made with actual sound, there's no music in the movie, but I think that the lack of music adds more tension to the parts where Dracula is doing his stuff. The art direction of the movie is another great plus to the movie. Dracula's castle has a strangely eerie feel to it and when Dracula makes his first appearance, you can just tell that the place he lives in is what represents who he is, mysterious and creepy. When this movie was first released, people who saw it in theaters were reportedly too terrified of what was going on in the movie and they left the theater. Compared to today's horror movies, it seems really tame, but I can see why people in 1931 were afraid of stuff like this. The climax of the movie is pretty tense and I do understand why it was such a big deal considering movies with sound were a new thing when this movie was made. With all of that being said, Dracula is a great horror classic that defined vampires for people. You know, the kinds that suck blood, are afraid of crucifixes and live in the darkness. NOT the ones that date teenage girls and sparkle in the sun.
To look at this film with the eyes of someone who has grown up with horror films that had the advantage of hitting more nerves than a doctor, it is difficult to look at this film as a horror film. But, that should not suggest that this is a terrible film. Oh, no. No. No. In fact, to put it mildly, this is a great film and one that proves again that the time for great horror films was in the thirties to sixties and by Universal. The story of this film every living person knows of and that is a reason why this film does not have the punch it could have had. This film is one of pure influence on pop culture from the stander of a vampire to the way the character of Dracula is presented. As such, the images that made this film great have been bastardize over time. However, if you are able to block out the ways in which this film has been ruined, what you are left with is a film the is eerie, creepy, and sort of like watching a Nightmarish stage play. Tod Browning is probably the best man at the time to do this film. With the rise of horror films and Hollywood wanting to make an official version of Dracula (already in existence at the time was F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu), a typical director would have made a straight adaption which would be good, but would be compared to Nosferatu (granted, in the 1990's Francis Ford Coppola would go on to make another straight adaption). Basing this film on the stage play, what we get is a version of the tale that flows more easily, gives the impression that this is real, and provides people with a feel of eeriness. Granted, by today's standards, something like rubber bats being flown around the screen are aggravating and just ridiculous. But that is all part of the magic of the film: to make it seem more like it is on stage. With that in mind, Browning does a wonderful job with this film. Now, there is one thing I must talk about: Bela Lugosi's performance as the evil Count Dracula. Like with the direction, I am glad Lugosi did not have himself look like Max Shrek at all. While that look worked for Shrek, this Dracula works because he is presented as a typical man. Just like the random guy you will meet while walking down the road. Then you have Lugosi's voice that as now become a staple for all Dracula's: thick accent, slow speech, very charming. It is rumored and is a myth that Lugosi could not speak English during the making of this film. Well, that is kind of false seeing as how he lived in America for about a bloody decade. So, why did he make Dracula speak in the way he does? Simple: Dracula has spent years studying English, but rarely gets a chance to use it. Seeing as how he lives in Romania, he has to speak the native tongue in that area to get around. Same thing with his movements: creepy, a little nerve racking, and always disturbing. Even more when he fixes his eyes and the penlight shines in them. It is quite sad that I rarely hear anything about Dwight Frye's performance as Renfield. Next to Lugosi's, Frye's is the best in the entire film. The reason is due to how he changes on a dime from being insane to being completely normal. If anything, he is more disturbing than Dracula. Mainly with his cracked voice, his laugh, and the way he acts when describing what Dracula has offered him. Watching his performance is like meeting something of a real lunatic in today's age. As I said: pity he is not recognized enough anymore. This being a horror film, is it scary? No. Not at all. But is it a great film? Yes, due to the accomplishments it created in the horror genre, the impact it has left on people, and the way it set the stander for all Vampire films. Granted, this film is heavily outdated with some of the most overacting I have ever seen, but come on. This was made in the 1930's and most of these people (mainly the extras) were probably taken from the Broadway show. So, this was to be expected. But if this film has proven anything, it is that Bela Lugosi is still the true modern Dracula.
As with Boris Karloff's role in Frankenstein, Dracula forever-defined Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula - something that brought him great fame and fortune yet haunted him through all of his career. Tod Browning's 1931 adaptation of the stage play was a big hit in the U.S., despite there being a superior version shot simultaneously in Spanish for the foreign market. Dwight Frye's portrayal of Renfield has never been more creepy and Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing has rarely been beaten. This film is so beautiful to look at despite its age, and it's one that continues to play regularly in my home every Halloween.
You may chuckle at the sight of the fake looking bats and the over-theactrical acting, you may even nod off due to the slow-pacing, but this film is an undeniable classic and highly influencial on the horror genre. It may have lost its scare appeal but it does retain its eerie gothic atmosphere.
bela lugosi did a fantastic job as dracula but this movie was such a disappointment. now ive read the book before and the whole movie just fell flat to me. Now it wasnt terrible ive seen worse but this movie is just not that entertaining to sit down and watch
Lugosi's famous role, Dracula, will never be played this way again. He is brilliant, and this movie is spectacular. I love it.
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