The vampire. A creature well known to all. A being that preys on humans and drains their blood. Vulnerable to the sun it remains in the shadows. The vampire as we know it is a very modern creation. And one movie changed the image of what we think of as the vampire.
Can I really talk about the plot? you know it, whether it’s this version, another movie version or maybe one of the many TV shows that had an episode based on this? It was adapted from a play based on the classic novel by Bram Stoker.
Dracula is considered the start of the Universal Horror, though there were silent movies and lost horror movies before. But Dracula is where you start with Universal Horror.
You may not know of Spanish Dracula. An official film made using the same script but much less Hollywood intervention, be it in the form of money men or moral guardians (don’t take that too far they aren’t going into X rating just yet)
As such, scenes that were cut are there, and scenes are more dynamic and alive. It was basically them redoing the film now they knew what to do and didn’t have someone looking over their shoulder tutting.
But there is one thing that makes the original, a film that by all other accounts inferior, to be the superior version of Dracula.
It can’t be undersold how important this man’s portrayal is and how much of what we think of as Dracula and thus vampires in general comes from this man’s acting. Indeed, if you want an early iteration of what vampires were seen as, there’s Nosferatu, which itself is an unofficial adaption of the novel and we’re very lucky it still exists given the law suit.
So, while the Spanish version is better in all other ways, the lack of such a figure in the key role is what holds that back.
What’s quite interesting and another reason to watch the original is what isn’t there. Watching what was there originally and what was put in later. Some elements like fangs don’t show up till Hammer Horror, decades later.
I can’t really say the film is too scary, the earlier mentioned Nosferatu has the more chilling imagery. But I feel the element of horror comes from Dracula himself and the power he can wield. Still, it would be wrong to judge the film by the standards of today when it comes to if it’s scary or not. Different ages different fears.