There have been other movie adaptations of the Dracula story, but to my mind, nothing can top the 1931 classic starring Bela Lugosi in the title role. Lugosi has always defined Count Dracula in my mind, and no other actor can match his distinctive brand of menace. Of course, circa 1931 special effects dont match the visual wizardry of modern movies, but I believe the eerie atmosphere this film creates in my imagination is perhaps the most potent effect ever invented.
The way Bela Lugosi looks, acts, and sounds is truly vampiric, and the power of his performance is embodied in his subtly creepy delivery of such lines as Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make! when he hears wolves howling. His stylized body movements, strange accent, and facial expressions all help to add to the sense of horror in this film.
This DVD enhanced my enjoyment of the film that already was one of my favorite horror movies. In particular, I found David J. Skals scholarly commentary fascinating, which was very detailed in terms of the actors and production. The DVD also has a 35-minute documentary The Road to Dracula, which I thought was both interesting and entertaining.
Film buffs will want to watch the Spanish-language version of Dracula, which was filmed using the same sets, but a different cast and crew. The Spanish-language version is more artistic in terms of camera work. In addition, its twenty-nine minutes longer and has a different dramatic feel. The female lead (Lupita Tovar) is much earthier and sensual than is Helen Chandler, pointing up the prudishness of the English-language version, which strips the story of many of its sexual overtones. Nevertheless, the presence of Bela Lugosi in the English-language version is so towering that I cant help preferring it to the Spanish-language version.
All in all, this is a DVD that every cinephile and horror movie aficionado will want to watch.
The DVD is released by Universal and comes with a number of special features, which I have listed below.
Selected Special Features on the DVD:
- English-Language Version of Film (1 hr. 15 min.)
- Full-Screen (1.33:1)
- Spanish-Language Version of Film (1 hr. 44 min.)
- Full-Screen (1.33:1)
- English Subtitles
- French Subtitles
- Introduction by Actress Lupita Tovar Kohner
- Production Notes