As we enter the month of Halloween, this week’s Late Late Review is all about Dracula. But was Tom’s first viewing of the 1931 release a trick or treat..?
Release Date: February 1931
Awards: Well, this is awkward, but it didn’t win any. It’s a bit of a cult classic as part of the Universal Horror set of films though.
Rating: 91% on the Tomatometer, 82% audience score. See? Told you people liked it.
You’ve probably got a fair idea what this one is about even if you haven’t seen it. Spoiler alert: Count Dracula’s a vampire.
Based on a stage play which was in turn based on the book by Bram Stoker, this was in the early days of movies that weren’t silent, and let’s just put it this way, you can’t half tell. Where a modern movie might create tension with music, this movie… well, it just doesn’t have any.
This basically just results in the whole thing feeling hammy. I’ll acknowledge that basically all of the vampire tropes that we recognise in film and TV these days stem from this film, but it’s just a bit odd. Firstly, the bats are HILARIOUS, the repeated attempts (and constant failings) to have light shining around Dracula’s eyes are always just slightly off, and the reaction to a crucifix at one point is very GCSE drama performance. That said, Dwight Fyre who plays Renfield the solicitor and Dracula’s first victim/servant plays his mania amazingly.
It all sounds like I’m really not about Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula, but as I’ve said, now that the tropes which originated in this film are everywhere and have been played to the point of satire, it’s just a bit hard to take it seriously.
It’s hard to appreciate a movie like this when we’re so used to amazing effects, cracking soundtracks and subtle, powerful acting, but it’s also important to remember that this film is almost 90 years old. I’m sure for audiences at the time it was quite sinister (with the exception of the Chicago Tribune reporter who thought the stage version was scarier – think Woman in Black the nightmare inducing play vs Woman in Black the not quite as terrifying Daniel Radcliffe led film).
Ok, so has it stood the test of time? well, no. Not really. That said, it’s worth a watch just because it’s still a better vampire movie than Twilight. It would also be a good one to have on in the background for a not-so-scary Halloween party.
If you have a phobia of rubber bats, you might want to give it a miss though…
Is there an iconic film or album you think I should have experienced by now? Let me know @MoveToTRASHUK #latelatereview