Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Essentials- Dracula (1931)

The Essentials-#26

In February, I got the recent Universal Monsters blu-ray collection. I have to say that I absolutely love it. Watching these classic monsters in the best possible format is complete sublime. Especially for horror fans. Its safe to say that these films aren't particularly scary, but I know that they scared some people's pants off when they were initially released. Just because these films can't scare by today's standards doesn't mean they aren't important. Each genre has a beginning, an issue one of a comic so-to-speak. Everything from the past influences the future to a certain extent. There have been some very good interpretations of "Dracula" and there have been some very poor interpretations. There is no denying that Bela Lugosi rocked the part in the 1930's and has left a sizable imprint on cinema ever since.

Despite being an old-school Universal monster movie, there are still things that definitely effect my viewing of it each and every time I watch it. When the light hits Bela's eyes at a certain point? Chills. I also love the scene when Renfield (Dwight Frye) goes to Dracula's mansion at the beginning of the film. Count Dracula comes down the stairs to greet him then goes back up the stairs. We see a several cobwebs in Dracula's way, and we wonder how he'll get up the stairs without getting a face full of spider lace. Then the camera focuses on Renfield and he looks in utter disbelief. The next time we see Dracula, he's made on the other side of the cobwebs without disrupting them. It almost seems like he was magically transported behind them. Its pretty clear how the scene was shot technically, but looking at it, even in the slickest of blu-ray format, its effective. 

No matter what though this movie belongs to Bela Lugosi. "Dracula" is a movie that revolves around a particular character, it is the story's entire anchor. Not to say the rest of the cast isn't good, the rest of the cast is solid. But its Lugosi that carries the movie, that gives the film a pulse, that gives it the extra push to important. There is a reason why this role defined Lugosi's career. If you say this is the only thing in his career, I'd laugh and roll my eyes. Lugosi had a substantial career before and after "Dracula," this film was just the role that made him who he is today, a landmark in film history.

Whether you get scared from these horror films of yesteryear or not, there is no denying how truly powerful and beautiful these films are. "Dracula" is the cream of the crop.

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