“I never drink…..wine.”
Mr. Renfield (Dwight Frye) is a solicitor. He has made the trip from England to Dracula’s castle to finalize the renting of Carfax Abbey to the count. Poor Renfield. Dracula (Bela Lugosi) turns him into a slave. Renfield is insane. His job is to guard Dracula’s coffin during the sea voyage to England. When the ship is found drifting all are dead except Renfield. Renfield is put into Seward Sanitarium.
At a London theatre, Dracula meets Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston). Seward introduces his daughter Mina (Helen Chandler), her fiancé John Harker (David Manners) and a family friend Lucy Weston (Frances Dade). Lucy is fascinated by Count Dracula. That night, Dracula enters her room and feasts on her blood while she sleeps. Lucy dies and is turned into a vampire. Then Dracula turns to Mina Seward (Helen Chandler). Her father Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston) calls in a specialist Dr. Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan). It is Van Helsing that recognizes Dracula for what he is. A vampire. And it is up to him to save Mina.
"Dracula" was released in 1931. It is a pre-code film and was directed by Tod Browning. There are at least 300 movies and TV shows that feature vampires in one way or another. Only three of them were made before the Universal Pictures “Dracula” movie produced in 1931. “Drakula”, a lost Russian film done in 1920. “Dracula’s Death” a Hungarian film done in 1921 that is also lost. And “Nosferatu” a German adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel done in 1922. “Nosferatu” is also a silent movie. This makes Universal’s “Dracula” the first time anyone gave a voice to the caped count. For almost 90 years Bela Lugosi has been the definitive voice and look of Dracula. Bela Lugosi is the universal Dracula.
Although it is the role he is known for the most Bela Lugosi only played the character Count Dracula twice. In the original 1931 film and in the Abbot and Costello film “Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein”. He did play vampires but not with the iconic title “Count Dracula”. Bela Lugosi IS Count Dracula. Before there were werewolves there was Dracula.
At the time the movie was made it was terrifying. It still is. For those that think the acting in this movie is over the top keep in mind that talkies hadn’t been around that long and overacting was necessary for silent films in order to project emotions that could not be heard. With the advent of talkies a whole new avenue of cinema opened up.