I’m torn with this one. Totally torn. It’s the beginning of Dracula as we know it, classic in style and image, just like a Coke Cola bottle, yet it feels wrong, the plot is shattered and simplistic with scenes rigid and without heart, everything which Dracula should not be.
It’s 1931, Tod Browning directs a great cast, Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, Edward Van Sloan and Frances Dade. The pot is a simplified version of the Novel. Dracula is visited by Renfield, turned mad, they set sail for England then meet the local aristocracy before taking a few bites. Poetic licence is taken as standard here with the film playing out like a stage, theatre production with each scene carefully planned and laid out. But this is really the beginning here. Universal’s big vampire outing and for it’s time, groundbreaking. Lugosi is scorching on the screen, enigmatic and powerful, but for me, the highlight has to go to the two girls, Chandler and Dade who reflect Lugosi in every scene, with his dominance, their subtle submission, their joy and laughter against his dark moody cold and precise exterior.
It’s great to watch, great to enjoy and it’s what we’ve all grown up on as a part of our culture, which makes it difficult to question, never mind review. All we should be doing with this one is enjoying and experiencing and accepting what exactly it is. What else is there to compare it to for example?
One of my plans at the beginning of the year, was to have a whole month of Universal monster movies. Many I’ve seen, many I haven’t but I’m not sure it’s the right place to watch and review these films. Lets just keep them where they are, on their pedestal and love them for their originality and introduction to an image which has lasted 80 years and will hopefully continue to be as symbolic