As a sci-fi and horror fan and a vintage style nut, I never tire of these old school horror films. While I love the over the top blood drenched kitschy drama of the Hammer films, my preference is for the Universal monsters. The style in the Universal films is simply amazing.
Of all the films the one that is by far my favorite is Dracula. That's why I was so excited when Dracula, 1931 was released on Blu-ray.
Shot on a relatively modest budget, the studio was suffering the effects of the depression, this film version of the popular stage play adaption of the novel is considered by many to be the definitive film version of Dracula. This of course is in large part due to Bella Lugosi's iconic performance. Lugosi had been starring in the stage version for years, but he was almost not cast in the film. Originally Lon Chaney was meant to play the count but he passed away before the film could be made opening the door for Lugosi. His version of Dracula as a suave tuxedo wearing foreigner who charms his female victims
was very different from the count as portrayed in Stoker's novel or in earlier film versions such as 1922's Nosferatu.
Universal was hopeful the film would help lift the studio out of the slump caused by the 1929 crash and invested in a big publicity campaign. That warned of the titillating terror of the film:
as well as playing with the idea that vampires might actually exist.
The campaign paid of and audience members flocked to see the movie, and while it might not seem so today, viewers really did find the film frightening. Today the appeal of the movie lies more in the gothic sets:
clever, and cheap, camera tricks
and lovely costumes.
The floatey dresses on Dracula's brides in this film version are particularly gorgeous
and tasteful, when compared the Brides as seen in later films
Dracula's English society victims, Mina and Lucy, get to wear some lovely costumes as well:
One very interesting fact about the 1931 Dracula is that at the exact same time the English language version was being filmed, a Spanish language film was also being created. Shot on the same set, at night, the Spanish version is considered by many to be superior, at least in terms of cinematography, apparently the Spanish crew would watch the English crew's takes and then endeavor to improve on them.
From a fashion perspective its very interesting to see the difference in costume between the two versions. While Mina as played by Helen Chandler in the English version is fashionably but sedately clad, the Spanish version as played by Lupita Tovar wears much more revealing gowns and undone flowing hair.
Both versions of the film are available on the Blu-Ray set and make for excellent Halloween viewing.