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Monday, June 10, 2013

Dracula (1931) - George Melford




The original English language Dracula from 1931 stars Bela Lugosi and gained all of the favor after it's release. The film has become iconic in horror movies and is an undeniable classic among film fans. The movie elevated Universal Pictures to the franchise name for Horror. It also elevated Carl Laemmle to production greatness. However, the Dracula that everyone knows and loves was filmed right alongside a Spanish language version with an entirely different cast. This Dracula from a parallel dimension was directed by George Melford and starred Carlos Villarías. In many ways it is superior to the English version.

Let me give you a little background: When the original Dracula (the English version) was being filmed the studio decided that it would be a great idea to film a second version with an all Spanish speaking cast. The English version went on to get all of the fame, money, and girls. The Spanish version was left by the wayside, but upon viewing with scholars eyes, you will notice where this movie is stronger than the other. This version had problems with filming. They could only film at night and they didn't have access to the "major" effects. This is where good directors can really show-off and solve the problems ahead of them. The darkness isn't really a hindrance. It works really well with the subject matter and actually gives it a darker tone. The lack of effects just means that they had to spend more time being creative with how they explore these scenes in the movie. George Melford does it really well. 

The movie's main focus is on the character Conde Dracula. Say that with me class, Con-de. Other characters went through a similar ethnic name change process as well including Juan Harker and Eva Seward. Dr. Van Helsing stayed the same though. I urge you not to dismiss this movie just because it is a forigen film; its not in English and they changed the names of some of the most well known characters in Gothic horror, but its still a fantastic film. From a film-makers perspective and consumers perspective this movie is really entertaining and stands on its own as a great piece. Its a wonder why they didn't just go ahead sand dub over the original English version. It seems to me that they could of saved a lot of money that way. However, they did a great job and parts of this film surpass its English counterpart.


Director: George Melford
Producer: Paul Kohner & Carl Laemmle Jr.
Starring: Carlos Villarías, Lupita Tovar, Barry Norton, Pablo Álvarez Rubio and Eduardo Arozamena
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release date: April 24, 1931
Country: USA
Did Ya Know: This Spanish version runs a half hour longer then the English version. Parts of the movie were missing for years until they were recovered in Cuba. There are a few minor plot differences between the original and this version, one being Renfield is bitten by Dracula's brides instead of Dracula himself.






1 comments:

Flower said...

I am very excited to check this out. I'm a huge Bela Lugosi fan, and naturally loved his version of Dracula. I'm excited to hear there's another one out there.

Though I'm a bit fussy as to why you find the Spanish version a better than the English one. You never gave any real reasons other than the acting. Was that really the only reason?

Keep the reviews coming!