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Siskoid's avatar


1931's Dracula with Bela Lugosi is worth seeing because it is iconic. However, it is at times painfully slow and theatrical. The latter is at least understandable given that it is more an adaptation of the stage play than Stoker's original novel, and Lugosi was cast precisely because he was in the stage play. But truth be told, while they do some interesting things with lighting to make his hypnotic tricks come alive, the possessed Renfield and Mina Harker are scarier than he is! But then, isn't that kind of the point? Universal more or less created the civilized, aristocratic, and suave Dracula with this picture, surely more insidious a villain than more monstrous portrayals. If it flags, it's in the middle once we reach London. While Edward Van Sloan is striking as Van Helsing, he's essentially an infodump device, making you realize we're too early for audiences to know all the vampire tropes by heart.
6 years 4 months ago
criscoJovan's avatar


I will agree I enjoyed Frankenstein far more, but that's comparing apples to oranges. Like many classic - and it is indeed a classic - horror films, the atmosphere is really what makes it.

Also, the scene of Renfield's maniacal laughter below the deck is unforgettably terrific!
11 years 6 months ago
the3rdman's avatar


Lugosi is a classy Dracula, but I would take Klaus Kinski over him any day--although the nearly half-century gap does render my choice rather unfair to the former. Dwight Frye delivers a pretty good performance as Renfield. Great sets and atmosphere are weakened by some decidedly un-frightening critters--the bats seem particularly innocuous--and unintentionally (I assume) funny performances. Not to nit-pick, but I didn't know that Romania was inhabited by armadillos (although I found a brilliant and hilarious interpretation of that here: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/10/hoisted-from-comments-the-armadillos-of-castle-dracula.html). Kind of fun to watch, but really the whole thing is bloody cheesy by today's standards. It's a bit hard to imagine this scaring anybody, even in 1931.
10 years 5 months ago
alexbergmans's avatar


Make sure you watch this before you see Herzog's Nosferatu because it basically renders this movie ineffective
10 years 8 months ago
DisneyStitch's avatar


Watching this film is a bit like stepping back into time, sort of encasing yourself within a time capsule. It is pretty iconic though, you can feel Lugosi's magnetism and how it would inspire a cultural phenomenon regarding the blood-sucking undead. Dwight Frye as the absolute bonkers Renfield adds a lot to the film. He'd be a creepy character by today's standards, I can only imagine how audiences felt in 1931. The plot is a little disjointed especially how vampires operate but that has to be because we've seen a great expansion of the genre in modern cinema and are now looking back. This one set the stage.
3 years 4 months ago
Burningstardust's avatar


I prefer this to Frankenstein. But perhaps that's because I prefer the Dracula story to that of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and this is at any rate the more accurate adaptation of the two.
They're both great though, some amazing filmmaking. I enjoyed it a lot.
12 years 2 months ago
SLionsCricket's avatar


"Make sure you watch this before you see Herzog's Nosferatu because it basically renders this movie ineffective"
- User "alexbergmans"

I agree with that because this film was completely boring to me. Not that I loved Nosferatu, but it handled the story WAY better!
10 years 4 months ago
mittens's avatar


i actually preferred dracula to frankenstein, which came out the same year. i agree this movie is unintentionally hillarious, but i think it makes it more watchable.
12 years 7 months ago
essaywhu's avatar


I feel like this early horror film is so hugely influential and so many films have repeated parts of its formula that it can be hard to truly evaluate its merits today. Bela Lugosi is great and so are a lot of the sets and the mood that the film generates. It has eerie-ness down pat. Oh, and I really liked the over-the-top Renfield.

I do have some complaints however. Because this is such an early sound film, the sound design is pretty terrible. There are extended moments of complete silence that could have been filled with some kind of musical scoring or sound effects. The moments I am thinking of stand out because it feels like something is missing. They lessen the impact for me.

To back up what other users are saying: Nosferatu is the much better version of the Dracula story.
10 years 2 months ago
Nibbler's avatar


His centre parting is always really neat.
11 years 2 months ago
JoeMorrissy's avatar


Bela Lugosi was great as Dracula. That's it. This movie was truly painful to watch for me.
11 years 7 months ago
Alias's avatar


About as brilliantly campy as it gets, but for genuinely good horror you should probably check out Freaks or, indeed, the original Frankenstein.
11 years 10 months ago
Joris B.'s avatar

Joris B.

@Creem16: Vampire fiction dates back to the early 19th century.
13 years 1 month ago
johnnyg's avatar


I found this painfully bad, especially compared to Frankenstein (1931).
13 years 8 months ago
mook's avatar


My first viewing, and it holds up pretty well; thanks to its atmosphere and the iconic performance by Bela Lugosi. 6/10.

Follow me on Twitter @LastFilmSeen
11 years 7 months ago

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