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Dracula is a Universal Horror film from 1931, which made Bela Lugosi famous as The Classical Movie Vampire. His portrayal of Dracula is the one most people think of when they hear the characters name (or even just the word "vampire"), even those that have never seen the movie.
Here's a summary:
Being bored with Transylvania, Count Dracula decides to move into London for some fresh blood. After making the proper arrangements with Renfield, Dracula makes him his thrall and travels to England by the sea, killing the crew of his ship in the process. When he finally arrives at London, he turns the Carfax Abbey (the property he bought with the help of Renfield) his base of operations. He then takes special interest on certain Mina Harker, who lives on the sanitarium premises owned by her father Dr. Seward at the next door. As victims turn up and Mina Harker starts to act weirdly, certain Professor Van Helsing comes to help...
The film was originally planned to be high-budget adaptation of Bram Stoker's original novel, but due to The Great Depression, the film was instead adapted from the popular stage play at the time by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston.
In 1936, it was followed by a direct sequel entitled Draculas Daughter.
This film contains the examples of:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Apart from making the disgusting Dracula from the book into a sex symbol, the 60-years old Renfield is played by the 31-years old, stunningly handsome Dwight Frye
- Adaptational Badass: Inverted with Harker. His role in the film is limited to Mina's Love Interest and the skeptic to Van Helsing's advice.
- All in the Eyes: The classic example.
- Answer Cut: Used after Mina is bitten by Dracula for the first time.
Harker: What could have caused those marks, Professor?
- Anticlimax: In the end, a stake is simply put through Dracula's heart when he sleeps in his coffin. Then Jonathan and Mina walk up the stairs to greet the morning sun.
- Also, Dracula's dying moans were removed by censors, and not heard for decades until the film's DVD release.
- Bilingual Bonus: The peasants at early parts of the film speak authentic Hungarian, including praying The Lord's Prayer.
- Blood Lust: Dracula's bloodlust is demonstrated in a scene where Renfield accidentally cuts his finger, causing Dracula to stare hungrily at the blood.
- Cardboard Prison: Dr. Seward's asylum can hardly keep Renfield in. He manages to get out of his room to wander around the premises even without his master's help.
- Charm Person: Dracula's hypnotic powers are between this and Hypnotic Eyes.
- Chewing the Scenery:
Renfield: "Rats. Rats. Rats! Thousands! Millions of them!"
- Cobweb Jungle: Renfield has to go through one in the Castle Dracula.
- Cobweb of Disuse: Played with; much of the Count's castle is swathed in cobwebs that make it appear totally deserted. At least, they seem to imply nobody's been using it ... until a sneaky camera cut makes it appear that the vampire has walked straight through a large orb web without disturbing it.
- Creator Breakdown: During the filming, director Tod Browning was very hard to work with due to his suffering from alcoholism and loss of his friend Lon Chaney.
- Creepy Basement: Castle Dracula and Carfax Abbey both have this.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Said in the film.
Dracula: "There are far worse things awaiting man than death."
- Forced Perspective: The shot of a bug crawling out of a miniature coffin.
- Glamour Failure: Van Helsing notifies Dracula's vampirism with a help of a mirror.
- Haunted Castle: Castle Dracula.
- High-Class Glass: Dracula has a monocle. Unfortunately, he never wears it.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The film starts off on Walpurgis Night.
- Large Ham: Dracula. Renfield also manages to steal every scene he's in after he is made Dracula's servant.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: He's the page image!
- Melodramatic Pause: Dracula's speech patterns are filled with these.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Armadillos in Transylvania. Yeah, we know. Also, if you look closely, you'll notice the "rats" in Dracula's crypt were being played by opossums, which are also native to the Americas. Then again, so are vampire bats and nobody seems to complain about that...
- Missing Episode: In its original release, the movie had an epilogue in which Edward Van Sloan addressed the audience. It starts out sounding like a reassuring This Is a Work of Fiction message, until at the last moment he subverts it with "There really are such things as vampires!" The epilogue was cut from the 1936 re-release due to fears of offending religious groups by endorsing the occult, and is now lost.
- Only Sane Man: What Martin believes himself to be, said in a humorous exchange.
Maid: "He's crazy!"
- Our Vampires Are Different: Dracula is a largely emotionless bloodthirsty abomination that passes itself off as human, and there are plenty of cracks in that masquearade that make him seem more than merely eccentric to ordinary people; for example, Castle Dracula looks as though its been abandoned for centuries, with Renfield surprised that anyone actually lives there; Carfax Abbey is in a similar state of disrepair, and he bluntly informs his bewildered neighbours that he has no intention of fixing it up. He also doesn't seem to like or be able to keep up his facade of normalcy for long periods of time, and he will leave, enslave or kill you within minutes of any meeting. In addition, his idiosyncratic speech patterns make it seem like he hasn't used his mouth for speaking in a long, long time. He's less like a cursed man than some kind of malevolent, primitive, pre-programmed robot that doesn't fully understand how it should interact with human beings. Quite creepy indeed.
- The Power of Blood: As Dracula puts it:
"The spider spinning his web for the unwary fly... The blood is the life, Mr. Renfield. "
- The Renfield: But of course.
- Say My Name: "Mina! Mina! Mina! Mina!"
- Scream Discretion Shot
- Setting Update: The original novel took place circa 1897; the movie seems to be set in the time period of its making, at least judging by the costuming.
- Undeath Always Ends
- Vampire Vords: Ur Example
- Vampires Are Rich
- Voluntary Shapeshifting
- What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Lucy and her victims?
- You Have Failed Me: Dracula kills Renfield when he unwittingly leads Van Helsing and Jonathan to him.