tek's rating:

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Caution: spoilers, I guess.

This came out in 1931, and is based on Bram Stoker's novel of the same name. I'm sure I saw it on TV sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, and I watched it on DVD on Halloween in 2023.

The movie is very much condensed and there are numerous changes from the novel, such as Renfield being the one to go to Transylvania, not Jonathan Harker. Like Harker in the novel, Renfield goes to deliver papers to Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) concerning his purchase of Carfax Abbey in England. Dracula somehow turns Renfield into a madman and his servant. The two of them travel to England on a ship where Dracula apparently kills the entire crew. Once in England, Renfield gets committed to Seward Sanitorium, run by Dr. Seward. Dracula meets Seward, and his daughter Mina (who wasn't related to him in the novel), as well as her fiancé Jonathan Harker, and her friend Lucy. It's not long before Dracula kills Lucy, or rather turns her into a vampire, but we don't see much of her after her apparent death. He also apparently begins to turn Mina into a vampire. But a professor named Van Helsing comes to England and meets with Dr. Seward, trying to convince him and Harker that the recent killings in the area were done by a vampire, though they don't believe in such things. Eventually Van Helsing learns that Dracula is the vampire, and does all he can to stop him from harming Mina.

That's pretty much the whole story, though of course I've left out many details. But hey, the movie left out even more details from the book, and also left out some important characters. I felt like the ending of the movie was especially rushed, and I can't help but wonder what Van Helsing was planning to do after killing Dracula. I mean, he sent Harker and Mina on their way and said he'd be along presently. He must have had a reason to stay behind, but the movie doesn't address that at all, it just ends. So that's kind of weird. But the movie is a classic, and Lugosi's performance is convincing, even if we never quite see him kill anyone, or anything like that. And I have always remembered Renfield's maniacal laugh, that's what I remembered best about the movie from the first time I saw it. What else can I say? Of course the movie is black & white, and doesn't have particularly good special effects, aside from making Dracula's eyes look very hypnotic. But the bat he turns into looks fake. Still, it has a very nicely atmospheric look about it, which I liked. Oh, and I'd say the British accents all sound fake. And... I dunno, there's just not much of a plot. But it's still not a bad movie. No, it's a good movie. And definitely iconic in a lot of ways. Lugosi remains the quintessential Dracula. I do wish I could have enjoyed the movie more than I did, but I did like it.

Dracula * Dracula's Daughter * Son of Dracula * House of Frankenstein * House of Dracula * Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

classic horror index
vampire index

Novel: Dracula
(The following is a list of things I've seen or want to see. There have been countless other things that have adapted or parodied the novel.)

Adaptations: Dracula (1931) * Bram Stoker's Dracula
Other movies: Nosferatu * Taste the Blood of Dracula * Dracula 2000 * The Batman vs. Dracula * Dracula Untold
TV: Buffy vs. Dracula * Dark Prince (2000) * Hellsing * Dracula (2006) * The Librarian 3 * Dracula (2013)
Parodies: Blacula * Dracula: Dead and Loving It * Mina Murray's Journal
Ensembles: Drak Pack * The Monster Squad * Van Helsing * Hotel Transylvania * Penny Dreadful