Friday, February 14, 2014

Dracula (1931) directed by Tod Browning, with Bela Lugosi andmusic by Philip Glass (2000)

Premiered February 14, 1931

 In 1930, Bela Lugosi was 48, and addicted to opiates. After Dracula, he became an old man fast.

 But here, he was still enough of the matinee idol he had been on the Hungarian stage to give his portrayal of Count Dracula a powerful attractiveness. Whatever else of the movie may seem dated, or stagey, (and there are some wonderfully effective scenes and images) Lugosi is simply gorgeous, sexy and creepy at once in a way that can still get under your skin after 83 years.

 When playing the role for the American stage, Lugosi still couldn't speak English, and so he learned his lines phonetically. This gave his famous accent a stilted, unnatural cadence that added immeasurably to his presence. He is the only classic vampire. Happy fucking Valentine's Day!

This version contains a musical soundtrack that was added in 2000, written by Philip Glass and performed by the Kronos Quartet.   The first sound horror movies used silence to build an eerie mood, which doesn't work as well with modern audiences.  The music is welcome, but by the end of the film's running time, a little silence would be okay.

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