Quick recap: The classic tale of the vampire Dracula, as filmed in 1931 and 1958.
Fun (?) fact: The Spanish version of 1931’s Dracula was filmed at night on the exact same set at the exact same timeframe as the English version.
Thoughts and observations:
Having no time to do much of anything besides work these days, I feel it most efficient to combine two similar movies into one post. Interestingly, the 1001 Movies to See Before You Die list is chock full of various vampire films. I watched these two for Horrorfest this year but there are several more just waiting for my attention. In this post I will put Dracula head to head with…….Dracula, to see which film is the most Dracula of all time.
Opening scene: This round starts as a tie, since both begin with a traveler. The 1958 version edges ahead by just a bit because of the captured woman begging for help.
First Dracula appearance: no competition here, the 1931 version featuring Bela Lugosi is the champion. The first moments with him are creepy but also intriguing and I kept wanting more and more of this character.
Best looking mansion: Both mansions are creepy in their own rights but when I imagine the Transylvania castle, it’s the 1931 version that sticks with me. There’s just something about the appearance of abandonment that sends more chills than an ornately designed place. In other words, I would totally AirBnb the 1958 version and stay far away from 1931.
Renfield: This also goes to 1931 since 1958 didn’t have the character at all. Renfield should be necessary to any Dracula retelling.
Best Mina: This was a tough one! The 1931 version shocked me more but the 1958 version was just so dark. She was enthralled by Dracula and you could see how she both tried to fight but also gave in so easily.
Best Blood: Once again, 1958 is the winner. The director never shied away from any gruesome scene, and I can see a clear link between this film and later bloodbaths such as Saw and Hostel.
Overall Impression: Despite sharing a number of characters and a basic plotline, these Draculas are so different. If you are looking for a classic retelling of Dracula, maybe something to show at a Halloween party, you can’t beat the 1931 version. But if you like your vampires to be oozing with sexuality, then the 1958 is the way to go. The 1958 version is also especially melodramatic, if that’s also your thing.
Watchability score: 4/5 for both films and a proper ending to a too short Horrorfest
Up next: Number 400!