Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dracula

When you say the name Dracula, there are so many things that can come to your mind. There have been so many reincarnations of this classic literary character, and he has been portrayed and brought to life by so many wonderful actors. But when I think of Dracula I think of one man who played him to perfection and no I am not talking about Leslie Nielsen in the spoof 'Dracula, Dead and Loving it', although that is mighty close to being my favourite. I am talking about the 1931 classic starring Bela Lugosi just simply entitled 'Dracula'. When I think of a true vampire I always think of Bela Lugosi in this film. And to anyone who likes so called vampire films like 'Twilight', you need to burn your DVD's and get into the real stuff. Vampires don't sparkle. And more importantly they don't fall in love with certain humans who can only express one emotion which is being constantly underwhelmed at best. End Rant. Dracula has had many faces, in many languages, but none are as iconic as Lugosi. This has set the standard of classic, gothic horror, and even if you are not a fan of this film, you should at least respect it for what it has done, because without it, many horror films wouldn't have been made.

The story is fairly basic so here it is. Dracula goes to England to do 'business' with some rich aristocrats, and just so happens to suck the blood out of the lovely and curious Lucy. Once he is done with her he turns his attentions to her pal Mina who is suddenly deteriorating, so it's up to Dr Van Helsing to investigate and what do you know, he realises that Dracula indeed is a vampire. 'Dracula' is a classic film there is no doubt in my mind about that, and it is also one of the 'Dracula' films which isn't camp or silly. It's very dark, gothic, suspenseful and it has a lot of charm about it. Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula is so good, I actually always forget about everyone else on screen, so I never actually look at them. Lugosi just had these deep eyes, he could totally undress a woman with them...I am not sitting here naked writing this piece...DAMN YOU LUGOSI! But because he can just steal the show away from everyone else, I just can never remember anyone else's portrayal he was just THAT good.

What I love about this film is how simply it is made, and how it still manages to hold onto a real touch of class and sophistication about it. There are not many black and white horror films which have those elements in my opinion, because a lot of the time they do look cheaply made, and everything just seems to work against them throughout the entire production. Whereas the simply made sets and production design didn't harm 'Dracula'. And also I don't think many of you would have been looking a the scenery and sets, you would have been to concerned with Lugosi's performance. I do believe this film has aged very well, it isn't an old horror film which now looks worn or scummy. It definitely lead the way in terms of bringing the right timing when it came to suspense. Horror films since this 1931 classic have been trying to use it's elements in very subtle or blatant ways. At times that can be a little more so annoying rather than complimentary and other times it gets pulled off nicely. The music that is used in this film is just wonderfully eerie and creepy. It really makes you feel on the edge of your seat. Even now when I watch this, I get chills and goosebumps. The score is very dramatic, but it isn't over used, there are some scenes which don't use any music, and having that silence can be just as scary and effective to the emotions the film wants you to feel. I think if this exact same film was made in colour it wouldn't look half as scary. It's that darkness, the lurking in the shadows among the dim light is what makes this film so iconic. Black and white film makes you feel as if you are lost in another world, a darker world where you feel horror can strike at any moment.

'Dracula' is a film I absolutely adore, and wish I had seen it a lot sooner than I originally had. It has a high bar set and not many horrors have beaten it. It is something that I can still watch now and love how refreshing it still looks after all these years. If a film can continue to influence audiences and film makers you know it has done it's job. I would give this a 5 outta 5, and that is a rating it will always deserve.


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