Greatest Film Moments Redux – Dracula
Count Dracula. Two words come to mind when that character is named: Bela Lugosi.
When I hear the film Dracula mentioned, I think of “crazy eyes” or more appropriately the haunting gaze of Bela Lugosi on screen.
It was all about the eyes with his performance, the mesmerizing gaze of a vampire seducing its victims and spellbinding those human he used as puppets.
His performance in Dracula became the template for the men who would wear the fangs long after him, becoming a dark and mysterious presence to lure and ensnare others.
Telling the vampire-horror story of Count Dracula, the 1931 film is widely regarded as a classic in the genre. Dracula begins with the arrival of Renfield in Transylvania, on his way to conduct business with the eccentric Count Dracula.
Warned off by the fearful villagers, Renfield continues to the castle, welcomed warmly by the charming Count, who is a true vampire. Renfield is easily enslaved by Count Dracula, ensconcing the Count’s coffin aboard a vessel on its journey to England.
Renfield is found as the only survivor of the vessel upon its arrival.
Seen as a raving lunatic by the authorities, he is sent to a sanitarium adjacent to Carfax Abbey, the property that brought him to Transylvania and his business with the Count.
His performance in the film is another cornerstone of Dracula, Renfield has lost himself to madness.
He seems to show signs of his former self, but it is overshadowed by his newfound lust for life, specifically the lives of small creatures like bugs and spiders.
After his arrival in England, Count Dracula finds himself under the scrutinizing gaze of Abraham Van Helsing as he stalks the nights for lovely necks to bite. A battle of wills is fought between the professor and the Count, culminating with Count Dracula revealing his true nature to Van Helsing.
There is no real love affair between Count Dracula and Mina Seward, though she is slowly changing into a vampire under the Count’s machinations. She is merely another victim of the charming Count Dracula, much like her dear friend Lucy whose blood was feasted upon by the Count.
Van Helsing’s wits and Renfield’s stupidity spell the end for Count Dracula, leading Van Helsing and John Harker, Mina’s fiance, to Carfax Abbey. Count Dracula is trapped by the rising sun, hunted by Harker and Van Helsing and forced into his coffin. Van Helsing ends the Count, and Mina returns to normal.
The only drawback that I have found during the multiple viewings of Dracula is the limited screen time for the Count’s lovely brides.
Those lovely vampiresses need to be seen more, which they have been in later film adaptations, but those are not the same lovely ladies of the night (And I do not mean those “ladies of the night”).
Dracula is a quintessential part of horror. It is one of the films that laid the foundation for the genre. Dracula opened the door for other vampire-horror films, both successes and failures, and several film adaptations of the novel its based on along with some amusing parodies.