Sunday, October 01, 2006
31 Days of Halloween - Day 1 Movie
Throughout the month of October I try to watch at least one horror movie every day. To kick this month off I decided to start by slipping into something comfortable, and you can't go wrong with one of the Universal monster movies. Unfortunately, I feel I've mined that territory quite a bit over the past few years, particularly the Frankenstein series. "Frankenstein" would have been my first choice otherwise.
I decided on the 1931 Spanish version of "Dracula," since I haven't watched it for about three years. Except for Bela Lugosi's performance, I find little to recommend in the English version made the same year, a ponderously slow and stiffly filmed production, giving evidence to director Todd Browning's difficulty in transitioning from silent movies to sound productions. I probably watch this version of "Dracula" less than any of the other Universal movies, even "House of Frankenstein," which actually has less to recommend it.
The Spanish version however is an imaginatively filmed, and superior version. Some of the compositions still astound me, especially that near final shot of Juan and Eva ascending the staircase with Van Helsing and Renfield down below. Directed by non-Spanish speaking George Melford, this version was filmed on the same sets as the English version, at the same time, only the English version was filmed during the day, and the Spanish version was filmed at night.
The movie was also much sexier. As opposed to what Helen Chandler was wearing in the English version, star Lupita Tovar was dressed mostly in tight, clingy, low cut gowns, and the other actresses were likewise costumed in sheer lace gowns. This would have been way too racy for an American release of this time period.
While Pablo Alvarez Rubio gives an astounding performance as Renfield, star Carlos Villarias, as Dracula is a little too stagey and over the top. Some of the other performances suffer from overacting as well, but overall this production is far superior to the famous Lugosi version.
This version of Dracula also turned 75 this year. Celebrate the movie, and the season, by giving it a watch.