"Dracula" (1931) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #114 Gem Mint 10.0

“Dracula“ (1931)

Director: Tod Browning, Karl Freund

Writer: Bram Stoker, Hamilton Deane, John L. Balderston, Garrett Fort, Louis Bromfield, Tod Browning, Max Cohen, Dudley Murphy, Frederick Stephani, Louis Stevens

Starring: Bela Lugosi, Edward Van Sloan, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Herbert Bunston, Francis Dade

Rated: Passed / Pre Code

Runtime: 1h 15min

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Country: United States

Language: English | Hungarian | Latin

"After a naive real estate agent succumbs to the will of Count Dracula, the two head to London where the vampire sleeps in his coffin by day and searches for potential victims by night."

You might like this if you like: Vampires, Dracula, Horror, Fantasy, Drama, Gothic, Monsters, Bram Stroker, Bela Lugosi, Edward Van Sloan, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Herbert Bunston, Francis Dade

Francis Dade (left) & Bela Lugosi (right) in "Dracula" (1931)

Any love I have for vampires has to start with “Dracula” (1931). I enjoy and appreciate “Nosferatu” (1922), but it certainly didn’t grab me the way Universal’s “Dracula” (1931) did.

I don’t remember this one making the rounds as a kid, more as a discovery on my own as an early teenager studying film history. I’d try and watch anything and everything that had its historical significance, but the Vampire Genre always stood out to me.

Helen Chandler (left) & Francis Dade (right) in "Dracula" (1931)

When I watch films from the 30s like this one, often times I feel like I’m getting the experience of a cinematic play. Both of aspects I adore, it just feels like cinematic theater. It’s absolutely wonderful!

Bela Lugosi is the perfect choice of his time to play Count Dracula! His voice stands out amongst the cast in a beautiful and terrifying way! His posture and pose give off that corpse-like feel you’d want in the living dead, He’s just magical to watch perform! Every facial expression, the way he moves almost in slow motion.

Dwight Frye in "Dracula" (1931)

My favorite character though was Mr. Renfield. It didn’t occur to me until years later re-watching that his character reminds me so much of Gollum’s (“The Lord of the Rings” & “The Hobbit”) story. Even down to his performance! It seemed like something Peter Jackson would’ve been a fan of to reference, as he was very much into the early monster pictures. Dwight Frye (also ‘Fritz’ in “Frankenstein” 1931) does a TERRIFIC job and loved his transformation and journey as a character.

Edward Van Sloan in "Dracula" (1931)

Van Helsing is arguably another one of my favorite parts of this film. Edward Van Sloan’s performance just adds to it all! He reminds me of an Anthony Hopkins type playing Van Helsing, and the idea of that alone was pure excitement for me! Van Sloan is also known for playing Doctor Waldman in “Frankenstein” (1931) & Doctor Muffer in “The Mummy” (1932). And what are the chances you get someone to play Van Helsing who actually as Van in their name in real life? Confession; my first iteration I’d seen of Van Helsing was… well, let’s just say of YOUNGER blood. So it was quite interesting for me, when I first saw this years ago, to see an older version of him.

Bela Lugosi in "Dracula" (1931)

This film is just a pure classic! I’ve been trying to add more of my foundation for love of movies here; aka the classics and the Universal Monster movies were an easy place to start! If you’re a vampire fan, well, this is where the pop culture and cinematic phenomenon truly started.

Written by Sam Gall on June 27, 2021

CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0

"A fantastic affirmation of genre made over a century ago. The beginning of something grandiose." - Federico Furzan, Cinelipsis

"Bela Lugosi gives his greatest performance as the mesmerizing menace from Transylvania. Dracula chilled audiences in the 1930's, and it still gives me goosebumps." - Paul Chambers, Movie Chambers

"It's more fantasy than horror, though it excels in crafting a forbidding atmosphere." - Mike Massie, Gone With The Twins

"It remains the most subtly romantic and highly atmospheric rendition of Bram Stoker's tale about the Transylvanian count, with Browning orchestrating the opening scenes to macabre perfection." - Alan Jones, Radio Times

"Lugosi's seminal performance and the striking opening act are what distinguish Browning's version of the classic tale." - Dan Jardine, Cinemania

Official Trailer:

Behind the Scenes:

Available on various VOD platforms

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