Sunday, October 7, 2012
Dracula (1931)Bela Lugosi Classic Films Dracula Film Reviews Films 2012 Horror Films Stills
Director: Tod Browning
Country of Origin: U.S.
Time: 75 Mins
When people think of classic horror films, two things come to mind: Dracula and Bela Lugosi. Horror films wouldn't be what it is today without these two crucial elements that forever changed the era and genre. Living in this kind of digital age where music is used to create suspense and the accompaniment of CGI is wholly prevalent and a necessity, Dracula comes off as bleak and minimalistic. But in this simplicity, the film does something that most horror films attempt and fail to do today, which is ignite tension and anxiety with just a glare. Bela Lugosi is Count Dracula, he lives in a remote castle in Translyvania with his three wives. Renfield (Dwight Frye) is an English real estate agent that visits Transylvania and desperate enough to make a sale, disregards the rumors the townspeople have told him about Count Dracula. Renfield is greeted with uneasy hospitality which ends with him passing out from the "wine." Aboard the boat route to England, Renfield is now a raving lunatic and a slave to Dracula. When the ship arrives, Renfield is discovered to be the only living person in it, where he is then sent to Dr. Seward's sanatorium. Meanwhile, Dracula begins to prey upon a young women name Mina.
Dracula is based on the stage play of the same name by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, which is based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. Tod Browning had a solid reputation as a silent film director and never totally felt confortable with sound films. Even though Dracula was filmed with sound, the shots and style of the film stream along like a silent film, employing shots of extended period of silence, intertitles, and dramatic close-ups. Dracula had a major influence by it's predecessor F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922). It is Lugosi's uncanny and powerful presence as Dracula that leaves a lasting impression on it's audience. And what I mean by an lasting impression is as in more than a hundred years! His momentary stares and glances prolong and persist long enough that forces you to lose the staring contest due to sheer uneasiness. It doesn't hurt that he didn't know how to speak English during the filming of Dracula that contributed to his ghoulish speech pattern. The film floats on in an eternal errie atmosphere that creeps it's hands around your neck and stays there to forever haunt you. The classic naturally has flaws but as a milestone of horror films, those minor errors are permissible. B+