MovieChat Forums > Dracula (1931) Discussion > A classic, but diasppointing if you've r...

A classic, but diasppointing if you've read the novel


Seriously, this movie is nowhere near as creepy as Bram Stoker's original masterpiece. Lugosi's Dracula is practically laughable.

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agreed.

In fact, I think this is actually one of the worst versions of dracula.

even the Spanish Version which has the same basic plot as this one is LOADS better.



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Well, as far as following the novel, this version didn't, but neither did Frankenstein, and both are still truly classics.

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I hate when people watch movies just to compare every little detail of the entire film to what happened in the book. You'd think they would want the filmmakers to change things so the people who have read the book wouldn't be able to predict what happened every step of the way. It's like when people see remakes of a film and expect them to be exactly like the original. If you want to watch the original film, watch it rather than the remake. If you want to hear the original author's version of the story, read the book rather than watch the movie. It's that simple.

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I didn't read the book but I can tell this was a badly done movie. I understand how important this movie is for horror history and the impact it had on people back then but the movie is not that good. it lacks a lot.

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this film's crime is not that it didn't follow the novel.


its crime is that it severely butchured ALL the characters, making everybody, including Dracula himself, into a complete idiot.

also, the censorship sucked any possible serious emotion and atmosphere out of the movie. For example:

I re-read the Novel this week. scenes that brought tears to my eyes:

Lucy's death

Her fiance Arthur Holmwood having to stake her.

Mina describing Dracula forcing her to drink his blood, all the while doing her best to remain strong and be a rock for the men.

We see NONE of that in this movie.

all we get are off-screen, off-hand comments.

By comparison, another adaptation Hammer's "Horror of Dracula" heavily changed the plot as well. but the way they handled Lucy's Death and staking was just like the Novel, among other things. the essence was retained, the characters, even though the relationships (and outcomes in the case of Harker) were changed, were true to the Novel.







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I remember reading years ago that the reason why they deviated from the original story wasn't becuase they thought they could have told a better story but becuase of the budget they had to work with. This was made during the great depression so it constrained them into doing something safe and cheaper. Also keep in mind that this was made in the early 1930's so people were more easy to terrify becuase movies weren't allowed to go that violent or mature becuase they had to be for everybody. It's a different story these days though.

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"this film's crime is not that it didn't follow the novel.


its crime is that it severely butchured ALL the characters, making everybody, including Dracula himself, into a complete idiot."

You must like very few Dracula movies

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I hate when people watch movies just to compare every little detail of the entire film to what happened in the book. You'd think they would want the filmmakers to change things so the people who have read the book wouldn't be able to predict what happened every step of the way. It's like when people see remakes of a film and expect them to be exactly like the original. If you want to watch the original film, watch it rather than the remake. If you want to hear the original author's version of the story, read the book rather than watch the movie. It's that simple.
Very, very true. Not to mention the amount of detail and story that goes into a 200+ page novel is infinitely more than what can fit into a 75 minute movie. So I really, really hate many of the unfair criticisms in this thread.

I love this movie. Lugosi as Dracula. Dwight Frye as Reinfeld. How can you not love that?? It defined popular culture's view of Dracula, just as Frankenstein did.

This movie follows the basic plot of the novel....including the anticlimactic ending.

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I also agree. I get so tired of hearing that this movie isn't good because it's not like the book.

It couldn't have been like the book, there is no scenario where that would have happened. Aside from the obvious budgetary restrictions, there is no way that the violence would have flown in 1931.

For Lugosi's Dracula to follow Stoker's novel, which I have read, to the letter it would have to include a scene where Dracula gives a bag with a small child inside to his wives to eat, with the child's mother being subsequently slaughtered by wolves. That was never going to be done. So the argument that the film should be faithful to the novel is no more valid than saying the film should have been in 3-D or featured nudity or swear words or widescreen or any of those things that was an impossibility at the time.

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Once again,

This movie is NOT a bad movie because it doesn't follow the novel.

It's a BAD MOVIE BECAUSE IT'S A BAD MOVIE.

it has horrible acting, is butchured and censored to hell, and all the characters are idiots.

repost:

Here are some excerpts of previous posts of mine saying why I feel Bela Lugosi's Dracula sucks the big one, and it's NOT because it's not "100% accurate to every single letter, word, sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter of the book":

excerpt 1:

...I don't think so, because there is NO WAY any of the characters in this film are "fleshed out". EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER in this film is dumbed down BIGTIME compared to their novel counterparts. I'm going to list the biggest offenses:

Novel:

Mina:
An independent schoolmarm (who is NOT dr. seward's daughter), who travels to meet and marry her fiance Jonathon Harker and nurse him back to health after he's nearly driven insane from being imprisoned in Dracula's castle for almost two months. she's also the "team mom", keeping the men re-assured and calm, even as she's in danger of becoming a vampire.

Dracula:
Flees back to Transylvania after he is exposed, AND after the heroes hunted down every last one of his 50 earth boxes he had scattered around the countryside. In turn, the rest of the good guys are smart enough to pursue him.

The Climax:
There is a climactic struggle with Dracula's followers, resulting in the death of Quincy morris as he kills dracula with a bowie knife. all of this is told from Mina's point of view, and she and Harker name their first son after him.

The Film:

Mina: a pathetic, wimpering rich man's child who sits on her ass and cries all day.

Dracula: Lets himself be exposed IMMEDIATELY, and just stays where everyone knows he "Lives".

The Climax: The good guys apparently can't find their way around an abandoned abbey that they've lived next door to all their lives, so they need Renfield to lead them there, and wait until Mina's literally on her last pint of blood to follow Renfield on one of his many trips, and then they just hammer a stake through Dracula's heart while he sleeps in his coffin.

The ONLY time this film comes close to matching the tone of the novel are the opening scenes in Transylvania. it all goes downhill once we see the shadow of the captain tied to the wheel of the ship and the random narm-y "here NOW! here NOW!"

Universal was even too cheap to pay for costumes and retain the proper Victorian setting.


Excerpt 2:

The OP is right. this film is a joke.

I concede that Carlos Villarias is not as good as Bela Lugosi.

But in the Spanish version, Lupita Tovar's "Eva" doesn't spend the whole movie crying like a baby like Helan Chandler does, nor does Barry Norton spend the whole movie saying his fiance's name every 5 seconds like David Manners.

add that onto the fact that the Spanish version was exempt from the moral gardians:

ergo, Lucy being staked is more directly referenced (an off screen scream is still better than the offhand MENTION by Van helsing in the English version.)

Renfield gets a more violent death in that Dracula THROWS him off the stairs instead of letting him roll comically in a way that makes the viewer want to go "A...E...I...O...U...Y?"

If you want more examples, I'll gladly post them.

The Spanish version IS better. it feels like a MOVIE, not a total Narm-fest where every character is a walking Meme.


Excerpt 3:

How does budget justify Mina being downgraded from a strong confidant woman who plays an active roll in Dracula's defeat into a crying baby in an adult's body, or Dracula being downgraded from a cunning villain who has 50 boxes of earth to hide in into an overly cocky villan who waits until a half hour before dawn to attack, or everybody else sitting around and twiddling their thumbs for two days while they KNOW THEIR ENEMY LIVES RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO THEM?


Excerpt 4:

this movie's Crime is NOT that it doesn't follow the novel.

Its crimes are that it butchers all of the characters, making them ALL idiots, including Dracula himself, censors out any sense of horror, suspense, or emotion, and has horrendous acting because Tod Browning was being a whiny emo drunk and not doing his job.

I understand that the violence would have to be toned down, yes, But that didn't hurt Frankenstein (or BRIDE of Frankenstein, for that matter), The Wolf Man, The Mummy, or The Invisible Man.

what boggles the mind is that even after all of this, the censors STILL thought it wasn't "safe enough" hence why for 70 years Renfield got strangled in silence instead of letting out a heart-wrenching scream, or Dracula letting out a short "ughk!" when he's staked instead of moaning in his death throws.



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If I may repost:

Dracula...Rocks!


Check and Mate.

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No, it's not "Check and mate" unless you can refute my points, and you either can't or won't.

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Check and Mate.

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I agree.

You lose. Good day, sir.

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I'm kidding a lot, and it is pretty funny, but there is a point I want to make about this movie that I posted else ware.

I mean this as dismissive to no one, as everyone is entitled to like or not like what they want, but I just don't feel a strong need to apologize for this film or justify anything in it. It is in no way a 'guilty' pleasure for me.

For some reason many fans of Dracula seem to think it's much more disliked than it actually is and that it all has to be defended or intellectualized. Despite any complaints, this movie currently has a 7.7 rating on this website, equal to The Invisible Man and higher than The Wolf Man, Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Mummy and, to be just a bit petty, Bram Stoker's Dracula. This movie is a genuine classic.

Additionally, Dracula created a genre in the American Supernatural Horror Film, gave the world a character interpretation from Bela Lugosi that even kids are aware of almost a century later, and is a film that despite its age still inspires strong feelings even from huffy internet users. All this deserves at least respect, fondness is not required.

In two words, Dracula rocks(!!).

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I love older horror movies, but I gotta be honest when I was younger and first saw Dracula on AMC for Halloween, I was pumped to finally see the classic that always gets referenced and remade and quoted, etc. And when it was finally over I thought, "Is that it? Seriously? That's what all this fuss was about?" It's been years since I've seen it, and my opinion still hasn't changed. Granted, I've read the book but that's not how I'm grading this movie. First off, the title card is this cartoon-looking bat (even though bats are almost NEVER mentioned in the book), there's a couple armadillos running around Dracula's castle in Transylvania, obviously fake spiders climbing up the walls, and there's even a coffin for cockroaches for Chrissakes!

Then again, I understand that certain, cheesier elements were the norm back then. I'm also a fan of Creature From the Black Lagoon and the original The Mummy, so I'm not prejudiced against old movies just because they aren't the same SFX-wise as modern films. But the story itself, even when not compared to the book, is a Goddamned snore fest. First off, we are TOLD everything that happens. And it's not things like "Dracula traveled to London," "Van Helsing spoke with Mina about her bite marks," it's MAJOR plot points like Lucy's death. Even then, we only get a minor mention of Lucy attacking children, let alone her death. That was a huge part of the story because it shows what vampires do to people, and we see pretty much zilch. Then we are TOLD how Renfield is always eating spiders and things, then we are TOLD how Dracula made Mina drink his blood, then we are TOLD how Lucy attacks children, etc. etc. etc.

On top of that, the characters are friggin' STUPID. Nobody is able to pick up anything shifty from Count Dracula, and everybody's a wimp. Johnathan Harker is either totally oblivious to everything going on or doesn't want to believe what's going on. For example, Mina tries to bite Johnathan which Johnathan sees as totally normal even though its never ever happened before, then when Van Helsing shows up with the crucifix Mina SCREAMS IN ABJECT HORROR, yet Johnathan's pea brain comes to the conclusion that Van Helsing's small crucifix is the culprit. This is after Mina has been very sick, suffered strange dreams, then suddenly appears better only at night and talks to a giant bat.

Mina is borderline useless, and I'm not saying it's because she's a victim. I'm saying it because certain important details, like being bitten on the neck, she attempts to keep from Van Helsing even though she is becoming inexplicably sick. That would be the equivalent to pissing blue for no apparent reason, and when the doctor is called to help you you instead tell the doctor that "Gee, everything's been fine I guess."

Dracula is an idiot too, he keeps having Renfield escape only to go to Dr. Seward's house, giggle like a freak and leak some of Dracula's plans to the vampire hunters, only to be captured and imprisoned again. Then at the end Dracula snatches Mina and goes back to the abbey, only to have her go stand in a corner while he jumps in his coffin in the hopes that the vampire hunters will go away.

About the only saving graces in this film are Renfield and Van Helsing. Renfield legitimately looks and acts like a maniac, and you can clearly see he's being tortured by Dracula's influence and his own conscience, and it makes you sympathize with him. Then Van Helsing is the only one who wants to confront the fact that Dracula is a vampire, while everyone else collectively shrugs and goes "Nah, he's just Transylvanian. Science says vampires are impossible, even though you yourself are an extremely literate and well-respected professor."

I'll admit, I'll watch this movie once in awhile if I'm in a really nostalgic mood but Dracula is honestly the textbook definition of a classic film that did not age well. Not by any stretch of the imagination. On the other hand, I'd highly recomment 1922's Nosferatu. I love the depiction of Count Orlok as a vampire who has more in common with a plague than an undead nobleman. The way the deaths in Wisborg are handled give great weight to the death caused by the vampire, and his looks alone are more intimidating than Bela Lugosi's. I also love Hammer's Horror of Dracula. It also heavily modified the story of Dracula, but you really connect with the smaller cast and the vampire presents a threat that really puts Van Helsing to the test. It's become one of my personal favorites, and even The Brides of Dracula isn't half bad.



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This movie was not based on the NOVEL. It was based on the STAGE PLAY.

Dracula (play) by Hamilton Deane & John L. Balderston

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NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER.

The Spanish Version was based on the play as well, but it was LOADS better. It wasn't censored nearly as much, and the acting was Much better (especially on the part of Lupita Tovar as Eva Over Helen Chandler's Mina)



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Different strokes for different folks. I love this movie and nothing can change that.

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and that's perfectly fine.

you just gave off the wrong impression by reminding everyone of what they already know.

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Well A lot of people who watch this film who don not like it usually do not know that Bela Lugosi was in the stage play for a while before he was in the movie. And people do not realize that talkies (movies with sound and dialogue)were in it's infancy and expect Dracula with Bela Lugosi film to be at the same level as any modern day film. The director was used to filming the silent era films so directing a talkie was new to him and a lot of directors. And let's not forget that this is just after the start of the depression where money was hard to come by for a lot of people which is one of the reasons why this film is the way it is.

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This movie is not an official adaptation of the novel but of Hamilton Deane's
play,which was his own version of the novel and was never meant to follow it
faithfully.
And the Frank Langella version of 1979 is a remake of this Lugosi film and
so it shouldn't be interpreted as a direct adaptation of the novel either.

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That's no excuse.

Terence Fisher And Cristopher Lee changed the Dracula story even MORE with their film, "Horror of Dracula", but at least they kept the meat of the novel's emotion intact, such as Dracula actually being a threat, and actually EMOTIONALLY dealing with Lucy's Death instead of brushing it aside with a few seconds of a distant shot of her autopsy and an offhand mention.

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The narrative of the novel is stronger than the film/stage play, but I think Lugosi was more effective than the novel's count.

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I've read the novel and while I do agree that this has a lot of inaccuracies in translating the book to film, I do still think its good for the time and Lugosi is just great in the role. Much better than Lon Chaney Jr was.

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If you're going to compare any of the Universal monster movies to their books then you're going to be fresh out of luck. Most of them are nothing like their novels. However the original Phantom is probably the closest any film adaptation of the novel thst comes close to its original intent.

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"Dracula would make a marvelous movie. In fact, nobody has ever made it... all the movies are based on the play." — Orson Welles

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The so called experts on both the Frankenstein and Dracula DVD's say that in both cases, the studios were adapting the popular STAGE PLAYS based on the books.

Thus its BOOK > Stage Play > Numerous changes to Stage Play > Screenplay > Screenplay revisions > Films

In the case of Dracula, its TOO MUCH like a stage play whereas FRANKENSTEIN really takes you into that world!

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