Dracula (1931)
Dracula, the film that started it all
20 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Dracula (1931) Dracula, the film that started it all. Dracula is the first film to feature the dark lord of the undead and the character has been in over 700 films since, only being toppled by Sherlock Holmes. The film is based on the play version of the book by Bram Stoker. The book was inspired by Slain Castle, Whitby (where the count lives while in England), and Cruden Bay in Scotland and the history of Tepes Valad, a warlord. While in Cruden Bay, Bram's friends and relatives were afraid of him while he planned out the book. He would sit in front of the typewriter for hours on end. Despite rumors, Bram Stoker had never been to Transylvania. Dracula, the book, did not take off until after the author's death, but quickly became a must read after the movie. Due to the Depression the movie had a limited budget and is a lot different then the epic book, Bram Stoker's Dracula(1992) is the closest to the book movie to date.

The strength of Dracula is the main character played by Bella Lugosi. His haunting portrayal of the title character is legendary. Bella didn't know much English and had to pronounce each syllable separately. Due to his poor English skills, he did not mingle with the rest of the crew, rumors also have it that he wanted to stay in character, but the cast and crew were impressed by him. As one of his few demands, Bella also did his own make up for his role. Bella's portrayal of Dracula was so good that it caused him to be type-casted for the rest of his career. Bella was even buried wearing one of the capes he wore in the in a stage version. Bauhaus, legendary goth rockers' first single was a song called "Bella Lugosi's Dead", it made references to Dracula and if Bella really was a vampire. Bella's performance went on to scare people to the point of fainting in the movie theater and providing hunting's on TV starting in 1957 and been giving kids nightmares ever since. Rumour also has it that the infamous Hannibal Lector's slurping sound in Silence of the Lambs was inspired by when Dracula sees Renfield's blood.

Unlike vampire movies to come, Dracula in this film did not have fangs, Dracula is killed off stand and there were armadillos in Dracula's castle. Armadillos are not native to Europe or England. However, because Dracula was the first film with the title character, it became the staple of Dracula films including: Starting in Transylvania with Renfield as the real estate agent instead of Jonathan Harker, cutting several characters, including an American who's knife eventually kills the count, Dracula being staked in England and several things are changed from the book. In Stoker's book vampires don't sleep in coffins, vampires don't cast shadows either and the no reflection in a mirror was invented by Stoker.

The movie's special effects may appear to be cheesy by today's standards. But the fake flapping bat, the piecing gaze of Dracula, the walk through the spider web and Dracula coming out of his coffin has frightened people to nightmares. The overwhelming performance of then unknown actor Bella Lugosi sealed the movie as one of the scariest and influential roles in movie history.
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