Friday, 27 May 2011

Dracula ( 1931 )

Written by Happywax   May 2011
Rating 9 out of 10

Director  - Tod Browning (FREAKS)

Bela Lugosi  -  Count Dracula
Helen Chandler  -  Mina
Dwight Frye  -  Renfield
Edward Van Sloan  -  Van Helsing
Frances Dade -  Lucy
Good Evening........ I am..........Happywax , ok ok so I do a lousy Dracula, but one kind of film that Universal Studios did better than any other was the Gothic horror story. Carl Laemmle practically took out a patent on those films. The sets were already on the lot, he just kept making Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Dracula films at minimal cost and they made money for Universal. In fact until Deanna Durbin started singing for this studio and Abbott&Costello brought over their vaudeville routines, these horror films were the bread butter of Universal Pictures.

Interestingly enough though Bela Lugosi only played the role of Count Dracula twice on film, he became so overwhelmingly identified with the part that Lugosi's whole life was taken over by the undead Count. He was buried in fact in his Dracula costume.

Lugosi however did portray the vampire Count on Broadway in a play adapted from the Bram Stoker novel three years before he did the screen version for Universal. It was on Broadway that Lugosi first got acclaim for Dracula. Carl Laemmle bought the screen rights to the play after seeing Lugosi on stage and just in time for sound. Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing and Herbert Bunston as Dr. Seward also came over from the Broadway cast.

Although Bela got his career role from this film, Edward Van Sloan as the vampire killer Van Helsing also got the role that people identify him with. Van Sloan practically duplicated his role in The Mummy which also became another series of horror films for Universal.

Oddly enough Lugosi himself killed the Universal horror genre by that second appearance as Count Dracula in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. When those mythic horror monsters became comic foils for Bud and Lou, the demand ceased for these kind of films. It only started again when British Hammer films revived the genre by making them far more explicit and bloody.

Still with that Hungarian accented voice of cultured menace, Bela Lugosi remains for purists the only real Dracula ever put on screen, Christopher Lee notwithstanding. 

Dracula will be still frightening viewers centuries from now. After all vampires are eternal.
"You got Cookie Crumbs Everywhere !!"
"Thats It ! I'm Getting a Stairmaster !"
"Please .. Tell me one more story !"

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