80 min., 1943
Written by Eric Taylor/Curtis Siodmak
Directed by Robert Siodmak
My rating: ★★
Even if you leave logic at the door it’s still a bad movie.
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We start with two men waiting for another man named Count Alucard (Lon Chaney, Jr. [even though he is listed as just Lon Chaney]) who is a new friend of a woman named Katherine Caldwell (Louise Allbritton). He doesn’t show up but his luggage does and while looking at it, Dr. Harry Brewster (Frank Craven) notices that Alucard spelled backwards is draculA (yes they give it away within the first few minutes of the movie, so there is no mystery to the movie). We jump to a party where we learn that Katherine and a man named Frank Stanley (Robert Paige) are engaged to be married, but Katherine, since meeting Alucard in Budapest, seems to be more interested in Alucard and breaks it off with Frank. At this news Dr. Harry Brewster instantly tells Katherine’s sister, Claire (Evelyn Ankers), that she must be crazy and asks her to sign papers to have Katherine put in an insane asylum (because women never lose interest in men, right?). Frank follows Katherine and Alucard and upon finding out that they are now married he loses his shit and tries to shoot Alucard. The bullets seem to pass through him and Katherine gets hit instead. Frank goes and tells Dr. Brewster what happened (including him trying to shoot an innocent man) and Brewster instantly (with no real proof) decides that Alucard must be a vampire and he must be destroyed. Is Alucard really Dracula or is he just Dracula’s son (as the title states)?
The acting really left a lot to be desired in this movie. Now Louise Allbritton played her role really well and she was believable enough and when Robert Paige lost his shit you really did believe that he was going nuts, especially when he was telling Dr. Harry Brewster what happened. He really did look like he was going crazy. On the other hand we have Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Count. Normally I really like his work and it shocked me that he wasn’t good in this. I wasn’t expecting Alucard to be some evil monster, but the whole time Lon Chaney, Jr. just looked like a lost puppy. Even when he was trying to look mean he just came off as a sad kid looking for his parents and that really sucked.
The biggest surprise of the movie was the effects. They are actually really great. This is the first movie to show the onscreen transformation from bat to man (as far as I know) and it still looks really good today. Now don’t get me wrong, it does look dated but it’s still very well done. The other effect that I really liked is the mist, the transformation and the reverse camera work for it “leaving”. Other than that the effects are pretty standard stuff for the time, but that’s not a bad thing.
There was some really solid acting and the effects were pretty darn impressive, so why did I give the movie such a bad rating? Let’s start with them giving away that Alucard was actually Dracula (or a relative of him because I thought he was dead). That was really stupid on their part and it took away from any form of a mystery or surprise that they could have pulled. Second is that Frank admits to killing Katherine, but they just don’t really seem to care because Alucard has to be a vampire (even though they have absolutely no evidence) and that he must be destroyed. And let’s not forget that because Katherine decided to marry someone other than Frank she must be insane, or Alucard must have some control over her, because women have no real mind of their own right? The overall story really destroyed the movie for me. They tossed logic out the window and just thought about how they could cash in on the Dracula franchise. Boo!Have You Read...?