#33 Dracula (1931)
Renfield (Dwight Frye) is contracted by the enigmatic Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) to obtain an Abbey for him in England. Once their Dracula begins to reveal his true nature as a vampire by making Renfield his doting servant and preying on the innocent beauties next door. It’s not long before it’s up to the occult scientist Abraham Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) and friends to stop the accursed Count.
It’s a little harder to rate this one purely because it’s so old and so influential. On the one hand, Lugosi is the man as Dracula, setting up what would become the look and voice of the character for years to come. Frye as Renfield also sets the crazy bar pretty high with his bat shit insane performance.
Having read the book I can also attest that it sticks quite faithfully to the original story which is always pretty neat. Additionally the feel and props used in this film have definitely been taken and used in countless other portrayals for the last 80 years.
On the other hand, this film IS 80 years old and as such it’s lacking in a lot of things we take for granted in movies now. There is no music other than some classical overtures during the credit sequence. This is a result of the film being one of the first horror movies that wasn’t a silent picture. In a way it adds to the tone of the movie but all it really does is make the actions of Lugosi kinda goofy as he movies in to bite a woman or stares the audience down.
It’s a veeeery slow film as well. Again, this is an early film so slow actions and movements are par for the course but it’s still very noticeable now.
It also has a really rushed ending and there are sections it forgets to deal with. It introduces the fact that one of the women Dracula bit is now resurrected, walking London and killing kids. This is established and then the movie completely forgets to do anything about this. Maybe it got cut for time but it was just a little odd.
While it has its faults, it’s such an iconic film I don’t even really care. I’m just glad I’ve watched it. 2/5 now but I’m sure it was a 4/5 at the time and I’m not just saying that because Lugosi’s staring into my soul.