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Dracula [P&S] [DVD] [1931]

Release Date:12/21/1999
This seminal film in the vampire mythos has been given a treatment by Universal Studios that is to die for. Not only is director Tod Browning's version on the disc, but also included is the Spanish version directed by George Melford, which was shot on the same sets at night with a different cast. Though both used the same shooting script, the films are very different. Both versions are presented full screen with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Compared to other titles in Universal's Classic Monster Collection such as The Mummy or Creature From the Black Lagoon, the print quality for both films is sorely lacking, with the main problem being that the contrast is too dark. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono for both versions, and the quality is noticeably poor. The Browning version does have an optional soundtrack (recorded in Dolby Digital 5.0) featuring music composed by Philip Glass and performed by the Kronos Quartet. Since most of the film is without a musical soundtrack, this option is a nice addition. The Browning version also has several extra features. The language options are English only, with optional French subtitles and English closed captions, and there is an excellent commentary track by film historian David J. Skal. The well-written and organized track covers numerous topics, including the source materials used for the Browning version and comparisons between the English and Spanish versions of the film. The disc also includes a 34-minute documentary entitled "The Road to Dracula," which is quite an informative piece that includes interviews with author Clive Barker and relatives of the original filmmakers. There is also a nine-minute poster and photo montage, production notes, bios and film highlights for the main cast members and Browning, as well as the theatrical trailer for the film. For the Spanish version of the disc, the main bonus is a four-minute introduction to the film by lead actress Lupita Tovar Kohner. Production notes are also included. The language options are Spanish only, spoken with optional French or English subtitles (no closed captions are offered). Though there are some obvious complaints noted, the ability to see these two fascinating films back-to-back make this disc not only a must for horror fans but for any film student as well.
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    Overall Customer Rating:
    99% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (117 out of 118)

    Special Features

    • "The Road to Dracula" original documentary
    • Feature commentary with film historian David J. Skal
    • New score by Phillip Glass performed by Kronos Quartet
    • Poster and photo montage
    • Production notes
    • Cast and filmmakers
    • Theatrical trailer
    • Universal web link


    "I am....Drac-u-la. I bid you velcome." Thus does Bela Lugosi declare his presence in the 1931 screen version of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Director Tod Browning invests most of his mood and atmosphere in the first two reels, which were based on the original Stoker novel; the rest of the film is a more stagebound translation of the popular stage play by John Balderston and Hamilton Deane. Even so, the electric tension between the elegant Dracula and the vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) works as well on the screen as it did on the stage. And it's hard to forget such moments as the lustful gleam in the eyes of Mina Harker (Helen Chandler) as she succumbs to the will of Dracula, or the omnipresent insane giggle of the fly-eating Renfield (Dwight Frye). Despite the static nature of the final scenes, Dracula is a classic among horror films, with Bela Lugosi giving the performance of a lifetime as the erudite Count (both Lugosi and co-star Frye would forever after be typecast as a result of this film, which had unfortunate consequences for both men's careers). Compare this Dracula to the simultaneously filmed Spanish-language version, which makes up for the absence of Lugosi with a stronger sense of visual dynamics in the lengthy dialogue sequences. In 1999, a special rerelease of Dracula was prepared featuring a new musical score written by Philip Glass and performed by The Kronos Quartet. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Bela Lugosi
      Bela Lugosi - Count Dracula
    • Helen Chandler
      Helen Chandler - Mina Seward
    • David Manners
      David Manners - John Harker
    • Dwight Frye
      Dwight Frye - Renfield
    • Edward Van Sloan
      Edward Van Sloan - Dr. Van Helsing

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.