Friday, October 18, 2013

211 of 1001 Movies: Dracula (1931)

There is nothing like an early classic, nor Bela Lugosi's scary stare. If you've seen the cover you've seen the whole thing. It's basically like Bram Stoker's Dracula took the elements of this movie and pumped it up with dramatic scenes and lots of color, and a way scarier vampire. While Lugosi can give some chills with his performance, and the scenery screams eerie, there is just something lackluster about the script and the progression that leaves you desiring more. Dracula's appeal can't be denied whether you're a fan of movies about him or dressing up like him for Halloween.

Summary: Count Dracula is just up to no good. Renfield doesn't heed the warnings given before arriving to the estate of Dracula, and is driven to insanity not long after. The world of Dracula is filled with oddities terrifying for the human mind, like his transformation into being a bat, his ability to put people in a trance, read minds, and well most terrifying of all, feed on their blood. Dracula wants to go to London though, so with Renfield in tow they arrive, and he instantly sets sights on Mina. She's strong and virtuous, and has a lover, but after Dracula sets his sights on her it will test her strength.

Acting: The main actor of this whole movie is Bela Lugosi. With his accent and role he is just bound to steal the show. He is compelling as Dracula, and the character isn't really terrifying without his performance. If it hadn't been for his intense glares, and shadowy stature Dracula would lose a lot of his terrifying position in the movie. David Manners is the fiance, John, and honestly he is just well dull. He's very stereotypical and doesn't really have traits that stand out. Dwight Frye gets crazy with Renfield, and while his acting would have been too much for the screen today it works for the 30's. His bugged out eyes and weird voice add to the insanity he's fallen into. Then there is Helen Chamber as Mina, and while she has a pretty face she lacks in adding a level of sensuality to the role of being seduced by Dracula.

Filming: The movie captures the mysterious, romantic, and scary atmosphere of Dracula's world well. After arriving to the mansion in London where he is stalking Mina you have all the beautiful and odd landscapes of the garden and Victorian mansion that work so well for the movie. Bram Stoker's Dracula takes all these great elements and only magnifies them years later. The scenes where the ladies are vacantly wandering through the mansions and gardens after being put under the spell of Dracula is the most suspenseful part of the movie.

Plot: The plot follows much of what even a casual follower of Dracula's story would know. There is Renfield driven insane by what he finds at Dracula's mansion, the obsession with Mina, and the seductive nature of the vampire. Of course with it being the 30's the seductive side is much less magnified, but very understandable of those familiar with the story. The problem with most horror movies from early on is that they really rely on no way of building the characters. Most are very short with only a little over an hour run time, and they mostly rely on shock methods to grab attention. For the time I am sure that is all it took, but over time people wanted to feel attachment to the characters that were fearing in the movies.

Dracula is a good addition to your classic horror movie collection, but if you're not a hardcore horror movie, or fascinated by the earlier movies then this might be one to pass on. I have viewed other older horror movies I just felt compelled me more than this one. It's like a train you know where it's going, and there isnt' a whole to really catch you along the way.

Rating 6 of 10.

Dracula (1931) on IMDb

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