The Drudgeon reviews Dracula

Dracula 74 min., 1931
Written by Hamilton Deane/John L. Balderston
Directed by Tod Browning
Language: English
My rating: ★★★★

Renfield wins again.

* * *

The story begins with Renfield (Dwight Frye) heading to Castle Dracula, to meet…you guessed it, Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi). The count is ready to buy Carfax Abbey in London and is ready to move right away. Dracula turns Renfield into a ghoul, who is obsessed with eating bugs. Then we turn to a boat that is ripe for Dracula to pick clean, which he does. The boat, now with no crew, ends up in London where Renfield is picked up and brought to an asylum. We meet the rest of the cast, including John Harker (David Manners); Mina (Helen Chandler), John’s fiancé; Dr. Sweard (Herbert Bunston), Mina’s father; Lucy (Frances Dade) Mina’s friend; and Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan), the supernatural expert.

The acting is okay. Most of it comes off as stage acting, which is understandable, but it also makes the film suffer. With the more fluid acting that is going on nowadays, it is almost painful to see their whole body move while giving out the simplest lines. The greatness of the acting lies with Dwight Frye, and his take on Renfield. He plays the crazy man perfectly and leaves everyone else in the dust. Lugosi does a good job, but every time they close up on him about to bite someone, it looks like he is getting fucked in the ass with a baseball bat. Just really bad facial expressions.

Now the sets are just great, with most looking like they could have been shot on location. They are lit extremely well, making the Abby and Castle Dracula, look colder and uninviting, while making Dr. Sweard’s look bright and welcoming. The shots are also great, with the camera work at Dr. Sweard’s being very close and personal, until Dracula appears, then the camera pulls out and shows the uncomfortable distance between him and everyone else. The same is done with Castle Dracula and the Abby, with almost all the shots being from a distance, with Dracula almost blending into the surrounding.

Like most movies from this era, you have to be prepared for what you are going to see. The hammy acting, the lack of effects (except bats on wires), and a story that leaves out a lot of the little bits that is important to the continuity flow. But that aside, it’s still a great movie from it’s time, hitting on most of the important things, while skimming over most of the rest. If you’re in the mood for a good classic, check this one out.

FAIL—Dracula gets staked off-screen! Boooooo!

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About The Drudgeon

I don't remember my real name or where I came from. All I know is that I'm traped in an underground cave with nothing but a TV, DVD player and a notebook and pen. They keep calling me The Drudgeon, I don't even know what that means. Someone keeps dropping horror movies in and yelling at me to watch them and write about what I watch. Then I eat the DVD and case, because they tell me if I consume the horror I will understand the horror. I think there are three of them. So if you are reading this right now, HELP ME!!!!!!! OUCH!!!! Someone just poked me with a sea urchin attacked to a pool cue, what the fuck is going on?
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2 Responses to The Drudgeon reviews Dracula

  1. John Bruni says:

    You know who would make for a great Jonathan Harker? Keanu Reeves. Oh, wait. Never mind.

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