#15 Dracula

Watched: August 13 2016

Director: Tod Browning

Starring: Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler

Year: 1931

Runtime: 1h 25min

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We’re back in our element with this classic horror film based on the same source material as Nosferatu, and Bela Lugosi is bringing sexy back to the vampire! I mean, not to the same extent as Gary Oldman, because that’s impossible, but still. This Count Dracula is classy and stylish, and the sexual aspect of feeding on the young women is much more apparent in this version (partly because this one includes Dracula’s wives, roaming the castle in their nighties). The castle itself is a derelict yet awesome building where the pangolins run free. If it hadn’t been for the spiders we’d move in on the spot!

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It’s only a model

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The story is much the same as in Nosferatu, but with a few changes. Jonathan Harker never visits Transylvania; instead, the first scene is with Renfield who undertakes the journey and is warned by superstitious locals about the Count and his wives. He is quickly enslaved and accompanies his new master on the voyage to England where he is promptly placed in a lunatic asylum run by Mina’s father.

Professor Van Helsing plays a more important role in this than in Murnau’s 1922 version. In fact, the scenes with Dracula and Van Helsing are easily the best ones in the film as their chemistry is brilliant. Mina is still the object of the Count’s desire though, and it’s his lust for her which is finally his undoing.

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“Swiggity swooty I’m coming for that booty”

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This is an iconic film that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. There are some great performances and the way Dracula’s eyes are lit throughout is very cool. For die hard fans (not fans of Die Hard (1988), but die hard fans of Dracula) we can also recommend travelling to Sighișoara in Romania which is the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, the real life inspiration for the character. And have we recommended Coppola’s 1992 version of Dracula..? ‘Cause Gary Oldman, people!

Things we learned: never trust nobility. Especially if they have no reflection.

Next time: Frankenstein (1931)

#2 Nosferatu

Watched: July 30 2016 (double feature night!)

Director: F.W. Murnau

Starring: Max Schreck

Year: 1922

Runtime: 1h 34min

Liquids consumed: 2 ciders each

 

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As many of you will know, Nosferatu is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s epistolary novel Dracula (1897). However, due to copyright problems, the names and places had to be changed. Thus, the vampire is (the now iconic) Count Orlok, portrayed by (the equally iconic) Max Schreck. If there were ever a name more suitable for playing movie monsters, I do not know what it would be. This was one of the films I had on DVD, but it is also available on Youtube (though with the names changed to ones more similar to those in Stoker’s novel).

The plot should be well known to most: a young man (here: a happy-go-lucky simpelton) is dispatched to Transylvania to help a Count buy property in Wisborg/London. At the mention of Count Orlok/Dracula, the local villagers are frightened and beg him not to proceed on his journey. And rightly so. The Count turns out to be a vampire, feeds on the young man and then leaves him prisoner in his castle while travelling to Wisborg/London to eat/seduce his wife/fiancé. There is also a professor who does research on vampiric stuff, but he is not that important in this version.

This is another German Expressionist film, although the sets are vastly different from those in Dr. Caligari. They are realistic rather than stylized, although the director plays a lot with light and shadows (as seen in the picture above) which we also saw in Caligari. There are nods to the epistolariness (is that a word? I’ll pretend it is) of Stoker’s work in that a lot of the intertitles are excerpts from letters and/or books.

Max Schreck portrays a very creepy Count, a far cry from Gary Oldman’s sexy, sexy beast in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 Dracula. Schreck’s character is more about the feeding and less about the ladies, if you know what I mean (although only a woman can lure him to his death). Count Orlok is very batlike (but not like Batman. More like an actual bat) whilst Oldman’s Dracula has more of the wolf about him. A sexy, sexy wolf…

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Nananananananana BATMAN!

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He is however oddly endearing as he emerges from the ship

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Helloooo? Iz anyone hier?

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In conclusion, this is an entertaining and spooky bit of cinema that everyone needs to watch at least once in their lives. We also recommend watching Sexy Oldman in Coppola’s 1992 Dracula. Cause Gary Oldman…

Next time: Safety Last (1923)