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Let’s Talk ‘Dracula’ 1931!

Let’s talk Dracula 1931, starring Bela Lugosi!

And let’s give a big welcome to Universal Monsters Universe latest team member, Rick Vaca.  Rick Vaca is an accomplished videographer and photographer whose work can be found on his Youtube Channel- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCITCXksMYUO4uJGklm-Z65A.  Previously working with UMU’s Steven on projects over at BuzzFeed, Alternative Mindz, and Social Mag LA, he can now be found talking about one of his biggest passions – Universal’s classic monsters of old and new!  First on that list is Tod Browning’s Dracula.

DraculaIt had to have been months ago. I bought a blu-ray with six of the Universal Classic Monsters, and usually rotate between each of the films.  Dracula is by far, next to The Invisible Man, my favorite.  The art, sets, wardrobe, dialogue, chemistry between the performers, and of course the cinematography strikes me as perfect in this film. They’re classics for a reason.   Also, this film is incredibly sexy.  Who would have thought!

Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing is a serious representation of what it takes to be a bad-ass.  It’s like right off the bat Helsing suspects Dracula of vampin’ and does not hesitate to shut him down.  Now picture a prequel to Van Helsing.  (Not like 2004’s some what Dracula reboot, starring Hugh Jackman, Richard Roxburgh, and directed/written by Stephen Sommers.) But imagine if someone were actually portraying Edward Van Sloan’s version of Van Helsing; a film shot in black and white, living as a vampire hunter and traveling the world with his crucifix and mirror in hand.  He’s seems like he could be 100 years old in 1931’s Dracula.  He was actually 49 at the time of filming and, interestingly, 1931’s Dracula was his first screen role.  Van Sloan previously appeared on stage, specifically the stage version of Bram Stoker’s novel and went on to appear in 1931’s Frankenstein and 1932’s The Mummy.  Not all unlike David Manners in how he appeared in both Dracula and The Mummy. Van Helsing’s lived quite a life time, but merely nothing as grand as when compared to the Dark Prince!  So who better to go one on one with Dr. Abraham Van Helsing than the blood sucker himself?


(L) Edward Van Sloan & (R) Bela Lugosi

Now let’s talk about Bela Lugosi.  His entrancing Hungarian accent “bids you welcome”.  Honestly, every line of dialogue Dracula has is gold.  Dracula was brilliantly written by Garrett Fort and Lugosi delivers every line hot and ready.  I’ve also come to the realization that I will never be as good as The Count when it comes to women.  He gets them all, and I mean all.  From the beginning of the film he already has 3 Wives.  3!  And Mina Seward (Helen Chandler).
But we must acknowledge the way The Count manipulates and uses each character to get him what he wants when he wants.  It shows the true power this “monster” possesses.  (UMU’s Steven brought up the fact that Imhotep in The Mummy; Karloff, not Vosloo is not all that different than Lugosi’s Dracula.)  Not to mention his abilities to turn into a wolf or bat at the flick of a match.  (Something UMU’s Joe will touch on in his review of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula)  One of my favorite scenes would be the intro when Dracula has Renfield, played by Dwight Frye, spend the night at Castle Transylvania.  The intimacy between these two characters create a dark eerie sense that something might not be right.  Maybe Renfield should have listened to the villagers.

Dwight Frye as Renfield

What categorizes Dracula as a classic is simply the originality and detail of the film. The roles bestowed upon each cast member Bela Lugosi, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan and of course Helen Chandler will forever be known in the industry as well as history.  I still get chills watching Renfield lose himself into madness, all under the finger of Nosferatu, which Dracula was referred to a few times and I thought was pretty neat.  Anyways, this isn’t the summer blockbuster created out of recycled trash.  Every scene is an image I consider art, every line of dialogue is poetry to my ears.
UMU welcomes you to re-watch Dracula!
(Rick Vaca – @UncleBaphomet)


Readers Comments (2)

  1. Dracula is my favorite universal monster and yes I do believe it’s because I grew up watching Bela Lugosi set the sexy intense vampire standard! Nice article.

    • Thank you for reading. Rick put this one together and he did an amazing job with it. A lot of fun re-watching the 1931 classic and Bela Lugosi is THE Dracula. Hard act to top.


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