Renfield (Pablo Alvarez Rubio) travels to Transylvania to visit Count Dracula (Carlos Villarias). Dracula is purchasing an estate in London called Carfax Abbey and Renfield has come to finalize the paperwork. At a stagecoach rest stop Renfield is warned to stay away from Dracula because he is a vampire. Of course, Renfield doesn’t believe them. Renfield arrives at the castle and is greeted by Dracula. The solicitor is drugged and attacked by Dracula’s wives. Renfield is driven insane and becomes Dracula’s servant. He accompanies Dracula’s coffin as it is carried across the sea aboard the Elsie. Dracula feasts on the blood of the ship’s crew. When the ship docks, Renfield is the only one aboard still alive.
At the opera, Dracula meets Dr. Seward (Jose Soriano Viosca), his daughter Eva (Lupita Tovar), Eva’s friend, Lucia (Carmen Guerrero) and Juan Harker (Barry Norton), Eva’s fiancé. Carfax is located next door to the Seward estate. Later that night Dracula bites Lucia on the neck, and she becomes ill. After Lucia dies, Professor Van Helsing (Eduardo Arozamena) is called. Van Helsing recognizes the signs of vampirism. As Van Helsing zeros in on Dracula, Dracula sets his sights for Eva to be his next victim.
“Dracula”, the Spanish version, was released in 1931 and was directed by George Melford. It is a horror film based on the story written by Bram Stoker and by the play “Dracula” by Hamilton Deane and John Balderston.
When sound was first introduced to film, and before dubbing was invented, major studios would sometimes create a film in multiple languages for foreign markets. They used the same sets and props but with actors that spoke in their native languages. Most of these films have been lost to time. Dracula is one of those films that we still have. For a while, some of the Spanish version of the film was lost. The missing reel was eventually found in Cuba and restored to the existing print.
Competition between the English speaking crew and the Spanish speaking crew resulted in the two crews trying to outdo each other and provide a better film. The English version was shot during the day and the Spanish version at night. This gave the Spanish crew an advantage since they could watch the English dailies and try to improve on the cinematography. This led some to believe that the Spanish version was a better-quality product than the English version.
One of the main differences between the two films is that the producers of the English version were more involved in what went on. The Spanish version they pretty much ignored. That gave Director Melford carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. The question may not be which one is better, but which one is more artistic. The answer is a matter of opinion.
The Spanish speaking cast and crew came from various Spanish speaking countries, so the film contains different dialects depending on where one came from. The Spanish version is about a half hour longer than the English version.
Two people were in both the English and the Spanish versions of the film that had speaking parts. Carla Laemmle, the niece of Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle, and John George. Carla played the bespectacled traveler reading the travel book at the beginning of the film. John was a dwarf who played one of the scientists that Van Helsing consulted.