Classics Review: Dracula (1931)

Let’s look back at the very first cinematic universe called Universal Monsters. This franchise was produced by Universal Pictures which involves classic movie monsters such as The Mummy, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and many others starring in their own solo films, and crossing over the characters for a specific reason why they’re needed to collide together. This series is somewhat considered a blueprint for Marvel, DC, and Toho, to come up with their own renditions of a Cinematic Universe. One of the monsters is a global icon for spanning many generations, that monster is a vampire called Dracula.

Dracula was first written as a novel in 1897 by Irish author, Brom Stoker. At the time of the book’s release, it wasn’t a bestseller and it didn’t earn enough money for Stoker, forcing him to sell his home in order to financially support himself and his family. After Stoker died in 1917, his book went on to expand the vampire lore he once crafted. Spawning countless films, TV shows, merchandise, costumes, and a broadway play in 1924. Seven years later, during the early years of The Great Depression, a film adaptation of the novel was distributed by Universal Pictures starring Bela Lugosi as the title character, which propelled him as a star.

Dracula was a critical and commercial success and it went on to be listed as one of American Film Institute’s (AFI for short) Heroes And Villains, with Lugosi’s interpretation of Dracula, ranked Number 33 on The Villains List.

Now that Universal Pictures has already released a reboot of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise, there are plans for Dracula to be included in the Universal Monsters reboot franchise. Right now, nobody said any specific details on which actor will play him. Only time will tell.

This article doesn’t feature any SPOILERS whatsoever. You’re allowed to read it.

Yay: Bela Lugosi did an amazing job for his iconic performance as the titular character.

Fun Fact: Lugosi was already playing Dracula on a broadway play based on the character with the same name.

Set Pieces are crafted by hand, such as Dracula’s castle for the interior scenes to reflect the atmosphere.

Practical Effects were used to orchestrate Dracula’s presence, including fog, shadows, lighting, and camera trickery.

Cinematography felt normal, no sign of the Shaky Cam technique or Dutch Angles.

Other Cast Members did a good job for their performances including Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing. (Dracula’s main adversary)

Nay: An optional con for those who are big time arachnophobes like me, there’s a close-up of a spider, crawling on a wall.

Some of the Special Effects are fake, such as Dracula’s bat form, obvious matte paintings of mountains used in the background. I’ll have to give this con a pass, due to the fact that they didn’t have C.G.I. back then.

I’ve found a pattern with Dracula attacking his designated target. As he’s about to strike, the film cuts to another scene, and then it shows the victim. Imagine if we never saw the Xenomorph from Alien attacking it’s selected target?

The Final Verdict: A-

In my opinion, I thought this version of Dracula is very good. If you haven’t seen this old school version of the blood sucking vampire, I highly recommend it. Dracula is one those old movies that still holds up as a timeless classic, spawning many generations of viewers, book readers, and storytellers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s