Dracula 1931

In the days before Dracula was such a well-worn story, it could be dealt with with originality and panache, as Tod Browning does here. The concept of Dracula is taken from the stageplay as opposed to the novel, and the results are highly theatrical. Lugosi laughs evilly throughout; no wonder, his depiction of the Count-as-seducer is aeons removed from the feral creature represented in Nosferatu and is definitive - not until Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1994 were there any real variations on the theme. Although Lugosi is never less than watchable, his opera cloak billowing behind him as he stalks the innocent, the rest of the movie creaks to the modern viewer. The supporting cast use their stage training to ham it up (this was the very first talking horror film and no one, least of all the director, was sure how to pitch it) and come across as grimacing and grotesque. The mise-en-scene are fine however - the movie practically invented the concept of "Mittel-Europe", land of swirling mists, howling wolves, frightened peasants and crumbling castles owned external image draculaposter.JPGby heavily accented individuals with strange eyes and an interesting taste in evening dress. It was very very successful for Universal and paved the way for a series of high profile horror classics.

Dracula is the earliest classic American vampire movie from Universal Studios.The film is a sound (talkie) one which immediately changed the story telling emphasis from acting and inter-titles to dialogue.
The plot-line is from Stoker's 1897 novel (Dracula) but the screen play (Garrett Fort) is from the stage-play (Deane & Balderston ).This gives the film a static theatrical stage feel with the actors "emoting" a slow dialogue to a theatre auditorium rather than to the microphone.

The theatrical structure was added to as the film is entirely filmed on a film set with no location filming.
The film set did, however, allow for control of the lighting to create shadowy, eerie atmospheric effects.
Extensive use of camera movement to convey the gliding, supernatural movement of Dracula within the scenes.
As a sound movie the camera effects could be added to through sound - music, creaking doors, magnified footsteps.
Censorship Trivia:
When first released the film was censored for:
the coffin scene with an emerging giant bug, the appearance of Dracula's "zombie" like brides, Reinfield's begging scene to allow him to eat spiders and flies and the reading of the newspaper account of Miss Lucy's vampire attacks on young children as these would be too disturbing to women in the audiences.

Such decisions probably reflect the sensibilities of the censors who are commissioned to "preserve the mores of the society." Often such decisions are some what behind the realities of the time. Despite these restrictions the film made good box office with its strong elements of the fantastic and supernatural as an effective escape to audiences tiring of the Great Depression reality.
To discussion.

To Dracula (1973)