Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

DRACULA (1931) * * *

Mr. Renfield (Dwight Frye) travels to the Carpathian mountains in Transylvania to Castle Dracula to finalize the transfer of Carfax Abbey In London to Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), an ancient vampire.

Dracula: "I am Dracula."
Renfield: "Oh. It's really good to see you. I don't know what happened to the driver and my luggage, and... well, and with all this, I thought I was in the wrong place."
Dracula: "I bid you welcome." (wolves howl) "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."

Dracula: "This is very old wine. I hope you will like it."
Renfield: "Aren't you drinking?"
Dracula: "I never drink wine...The spider spinning his web for the unwary fly. The blood is the life, Mr. Renfield."

Renfield is turned into a spider-eating slave of the bloodsucker and protects him during their sea voyage to England. In London, Dracula feasts on young Lucy Weston (Frances Dade) and turns her into a vampire. Dracula has the ability to turn into a bat and also a wolf. Next he goes after virtuous Mina (Helen Chandler), daughter of Dr. Jack Seward (Herbert Bunston) who calls in Prof. Abraham Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) for help. Van Helsing educates Mina's fiance John Harker (David Manners) and Dr. Seward, then takes measures to prevent Mina from becoming a vampire.

Dracula: "To die, to be really dead, that must be glorious."
Mina: "Why, Count Dracula?"
Dracula: "There are far worse things awaiting man than death."

Dracula: "Now that you have learned what you have learned, it would be well for you to return to your own country."
Van Helsing: "I prefer to remain and protect those whom you would destroy."
Dracula: "You are too late. My blood now flows through her veins. She will live through the centuries to come, as I have lived."
Van Helsing: "Should you escape us, Dracula, we know how to save Miss Mina's soul if not her life."
Dracula: "If she dies by day. But I shall see that she dies by night."
Van Helsing: "And I will have Carfax Abbey torn down, stone by stone, excavated a mile around. I will find your earth-box and drive that stake through your heart."

DRACULA is based on a stage play by Hamilton Deane, which was derived from Bram Stoker's haunting 1897 novel. It is a classic horror film with Bela Lugosi's definitive interpretation of the Count. Unfortunately, he was forever typecast as a vampire, even though he only played the role twice. The creepy atmosphere, dark gloomy sets with misty covered ground, and flawless performances create an enduring genre classic that continues to cast a spell. There are over 50 Dracula movies, but this is the best.

However, because the film is adapted from the stage, the second half is uneven, plodding, and too slow. Much of the action takes place off screen, including the climax. It is dated, but for many reasons it maintains the viewer's interest.

Others in the cast include: Joan Standing (Briggs), Charles K. Gerrard (Martin), Geraldine Dvorak (Dracula's wife), Dorothy Tree (Dracula's wife), Cornelia Thaw (Dracula's wife), Josephine Velez (Grace), and many others. The runtime is either 75 or 84 minutes. Tod Browning directed.

Except for the credits, there is absolutely no music in the film. In 1998 Philip Glass was commissioned to compose a score for the movie. It was performed and recorded by the Kronos Quartet under the direction of Michael Riesman. These scumbags were 67 years too late. Is an artist to be commissioned to "fix" the Mona Lisa's smile? The concept is a despicable, presumptuous travesty. Philip Glass is an artsy mediocre pseudo-intellectual, and after he is dead his crappy work deserves to be drastically altered by others because it is horrible and much too "minimalist". Philip Glass' pretentious muzak needs music added to it, the DRACULA movie does not.

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