Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. This October I thought I would go through a bunch of the classic Universal creature features and give them a review. And if we are doing Universal monster movies, we have to start with the granddaddy of them all, Dracula from 1931 starring the one and only Bela Lugosi as the title character.
This movie is almost ninety years old and the book it is based off is even older but I still will give you the warning that spoilers will follow. Because, you know, maybe you are an undead creature who loves to feast on human blood but also loves movies and has just not had enough time to get to reading or watching Dracula. You have been warned, now get those sharp teeth off of my neck.
Dracula is the most iconic vampire of all time and as far as I can tell, he always will be. The book took a bunch of separate ideas about what a vampire is and put them all together to create one of the most terrifying books in all of literature. The film from 1931 is not only a horror classic but a film classic. Any list of the greatest movies of all time that leaves this one off is missing the mark. Re-watching the film it’s obvious why this is a classic. The filmmakers were able to pack all the menace and mood of danger in that they could. Even with all of the subsequent versions of Dracula from different studios, remakes, etc., this will always hold as the most iconic. It’s nearly impossible not to imagine Bela Lugosi when you say the word Dracula.
Still, the film makes some very odd choices and leaves out plenty of the best parts of the book. The main thing that confuses me in this adaptation is that they put Renfield as the one who travels to Castle Dracula to make arrangements for the count. Anyone who has read the book knows without doubt that the character who does this is Jonathan Harker. The other major complaint is that the story of Lucy is almost completely ignored. That part of the book is what really raises the stakes (pun totally intended) for our heroes. They choose to leave this part out and focus more on Mina which makes some sense when you have to keep it at seventy-five minutes. It would have been nice to have it there though.
Even with those complaints, this is still a great movie. Most versions are a little grainy and the sound can be difficult to hear at times but that is just due to the age of the film. This is also, in my opinion, where you should start if you want to introduce your kids to horror. Honestly, there is a reason that all these years later when I tell you that I am going to review Universal monster movies, you know exactly the kinds of creature features I am talking about. This is the movie that kicked that off and proved beyond doubt that horror was a golden money maker in Hollywood. I wish that studios would make something this iconic today.
There are immortal lines in this one as well. “I never drink… wine,” probably being the most recognized. The mood and setting are iconic and set the tone for several films to come. If you have never watched this or if it has been a while since you have, do yourself a favor and give ol’ Dracula a little bit of attention. You won’t regret it.