Dracula (1931)

     Dracula (1931) – “Listen to them.  Children of the night.  What music they make.”  The iconic Dracula and the greatest American monster.  There have been many vampire films and remakes throughout the last 80 years, but there is only 1 true Dracula.  You ask anyone, even today, who Dracula is and they’ll describe Legosi’s version.  Bela Legosi’s portrayal of Bram Stoker’s literary creation has defined this character forever.  The aristocratic dress, the mannerisms, the speech style, and his movements are nothing short of legendary.   Surprisingly and considering this film was made in 1931, the special effects are very good.  Granted, compared to the CGI movies of today, the effects will not hold up, but you will not miss them in this film.  Rated 93% at Rotten Tomatoes and 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, the greatness of this film is not lost throughout time.

Plot – Renfeild (Dwight Frey), a British solicitor, is traveling to Dracula’s castle by stagecoach.  At one of the stops, the villagers inform him of the vampires, but he dimisses it.  He travels on meeting another coach and the ride has some strange occurances.  Arriving at the castle, he enters and Dracula (Bela Legosi) decends to greet him.  He has purchased Carfax Abbey in London and Renfield brings the papers.  Dracula provides a knock out drink and then bites Renfield making him Dracula’s helper.  They get on a boat to London, which arrives with only Renfield as the survivor and who is now a raving lunatic slave to Dracula.  He is taken to Sewards Sanitarium.  Dracula meets Dr. Seward, daughter Mina, Mina’s fiance John Harker, and family friend Lucy at the theatre.  Later, Dracula enters Lucy’s room and bites her and she later becomes a vampire.  At the sanitarium, Renfield is noticed eating spiders and flies.  Dr. Van Helsing tests his blood and describes vampires to the other doctors, who don’t believe him.  Dracula now enters Mina’s room and attacks her.  She awakes and tells of nightmares of the experience.  Dracula enters and Van Helsing sees that Dracula doesn’t reflect in the mirror.  Showing this in a cigarette case, Dracula acts violently, gathers his composure, and says that Van Helsing will explain as he exits.  Meanwhile, Mina leaves her room and meets Dracula for another bite.  Harker, her fiance, wants to take Mina away, but Van Helsing says no and decorates with wolfsbane to protect her.  Dracula enters and challenges Van Helsing, but his cross saves him.  He tells Van Helsing that he has already fused his blood with Mina and she is his.  Dracula hypnotizes the nurse to let him in and takes Mina.  Renfield is now escaped and Harker & Van Helsing follow him to Dracula’s lair.  Dracula and Mina decend the stairscase heading to the coffins as morning approaches.  Renfield sees Dracula and offers his service, but Harker shouts to Mina.  Dracula thinks Renfield led them there and strangles Renfield.  He rushes below trying to seal themselves in.  Van Helsing and Harker are able to break in and find them.  Van Helsing sends Harker to find Mina.  As he searches, Van Helsing handles Dracula.  Harker finds Mina and as Dracula is killed, she returns to normal.

Commentary – Dracula is one of the best known monsters of all time and the character is personified by Bela Legosi.  The movie is well written and structured.  The character of Renfield is essential to the story and Frey’s insanity acting is excellent.  You can’t go wrong with Dracula.  It is a classic for anyone who is a fan of horror films.  It’s not very frightening due to the desensitization of later films, but it is the film that truly started it all.  Don’t miss this iconic film.

Trivia – The film was originally to star Lon Cheney Sr., but he passed away in 1930 allowing the role to go to Bela Legosi.  Being an immigrant, it was rumored that Legosi could not speak English and learned his lines phonetically, but reality is that Legosi was able to speak English as well as he ever would for the film.  As iconic as his character is, he only reprised his role once in the comedy film Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein; even though he played in numerous other horror films.  Throughout the film, you never see Dracula blink.  In addition, Dracula never displays fangs and the only indication are the “two little holes” that the doctors keep referring.

** Just click the images to check out the original “Dracula” at Amazon.com **


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