DRACULA (1931: Universal Pictures, USA/Spanish language version)
Director: George Melford
Universal made foreign language versions of their products back-to-back on a regular basis to keep interest fresh in their markets overseas.
I have only seen George Melford’s Drácula, with Carlos Vallarius (Count Dracula), Eduardo Arozamena (Van Helsing) and Lupita Tovar (Eva), as recent segmented downloads on the Internet YouTube service. Before this revelatory experience, I had to exist solely on tantalizing stills, and piece together a cinematic wonder through reviews of varying degrees.
Carlos Vallarius is billed as Charles Villar. In the photographs, smiling inanely with giant candelabra, he looks to be enjoying himself immensely as the Spanish Count. In another shot, ascending stone steps with said candelabra, he looks a little shocked at the idea of being a photogenic vampire. Bending over the sleeping form of Carmen Guerrero, we see an edge of sensuousness that was missing from Lugosi’s portrayal. Villar loses the stiff baroque poses in favour of high camp melodrama it seems and has three brides dressed in varying degrees of fashion to suit the historical period in which they were fanged. The movie segments show a film that is indeed displaying an energy that is missing from it’s American-speaking cousin. Gone are the dead spots of interminable silences and the weird inclusion of armadillos and possums that scurry around in Bela‘s castle. In their place are convincing bats, fluid camera movements and vigorous verbal exchanges from a cast that seem to be having real fun with the material. (more…)