Sunday, May 6, 2012

May Movies: Dracula

Ack! I have fallen behind two days! No worries - I will catch up! I have a ton of older movies to share with you this month! So, without fail, here is the entry for May 4th.

A few weeks ago, Svengoolie featured the 1931 movie Dracula on his weekly show. I was intrigued to watch it as I had never seen the original. I think I made it part way through the version with Winona Ryder, but didn't care for it at all. I just reread the book in 2011 after I got the Kindle app on my Droid. I am a big fan of reading a book prior to seeing the movie version, so I was looking forward to it.

The story in the book is told primarily through letters, journals, ship logs and newspaper clippings. It is like a compilation by someone who is researching the events, in a different form of first-person narrative than someone synthesizing the material to tell a story. You get different points of view from several of the characters. Jonathan travels to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania to assist him with some legal matters and quickly figures out he is a prisoner there. He notes all kinds of strange occurrences.

Soon after he escapes, Dracula makes his way to England and is smitten with Jonathan's finacee, Mina, and her best friend Lucy. Lucy and Mina are both bitten by the vampire. Lucy dies and Mina alternates between consciousness and unconsciousness as she continues to be held under his power. Dr. Seward, one of Lucy's suitors, is suspicious of her illness prior to her death and gathers a group of men, led by Van Helsing, to determine what is going on. Van Helsing recognizes the signs of vampires. Seward has a mental patient named Renfield who consumes bugs and creatures and is able to somewhat track Dracula's movements. When Jonathan returns, he helps the group on their mission to find and destroy Dracula.

The movie version has the fundamental story the same as in the book, but some marked differences. Count Dracula makes his way to England after receiving a visit from a young gentleman. Only in the movie, the visitor is Renfield, who goes insane during the ship voyage to England from Transylvania. Dracula meets the women and their suitors, including Jonathan, while attending the theatre. The women are attracted to Dracula and he quickly makes them his own. Van Helsing, Jonathan and Seward work toward eradicating Dracula for good.

The movie is rather enjoyable, especially as an example of a classic horror movie from the 1930s. It is the definitive form of Dracula, as Bela Lugosi's interpretation has been mimicked ever since. I will admit that I do not see the appeal of the character, is Lugosi simply is not that attractive to me. And I snickered every time he gave his hypnotizing stare to one of the women he was attempting to seduce. One eye would close ever so slightly while the opposite eyebrow raised a little. Had I seen it 80 years ago, though, I may have been more creeped out.

I will also admit to falling asleep every time the movie has come on. I am not so sure that it was from boredom, as opposed to sheer exhaustion. I like to fall asleep to movies. This one, having no music soundtrack, is good at allowing for that to happen.

It is, however, much better than any of that other vampire stuff that is out there right now in the movies. :-P

See it once just to see it, so that you can say you have viewed a classic. You can rent from Amazon here. Or, you can always just purchase a copy for your own collection.

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