This Dracula, the first screen sound version, was also based on the Deane/Balderston stage version of the book. As a result, director Tod Browning’s film plays and moves like a parlor drama after the early opening scenes set against the beautiful backdrop of Castle Dracula. The basic plot remains the same, with the major change being that it is Renfield (Dwight Frye) who first visits Dracula’s castle, not Jonathan Harker, with Renfield going insane as he falls under Dracula’s will. Dracula.
Otherwise, the main beats stay more or less faithful to the book: Dracula travels to Whitby by ship, buys Carfax Abbey, and begins attacking first Lucy, then Mina (who has become the daughter of Dr. Seward in this version). Van Helsing, Harker and Seward are all present, but are largely standing. Most of the action, even the climactic Count staking, takes place off-screen. Seen Today, 1931 Dracula is slow, asexual, and poised, devoid of the melodrama and often chilling atmosphere of the book, but its imagery and influence on pop culture are unmistakable.
A Spanish-language version of the film, shot at night on the same sets with the same script but a different cast and director, has critics divided over which version is better. While following the same plot and even slower paced, some have suggested that director George Melford made better use of the camera and sets, although actor Carlos Villarias’ portrayal of the Count pales in comparison to that of Lugosi.
3. Count Dracula (1970)
During Jesús Franco’s nearly 60-year career, the Spanish filmmaker wrote, produced and directed hundreds of films, but how many of them were actually good remains a question to this day. Franco worked primarily in low-budget exploitation, horror, and adult films (softcore and hardcore), and his talents behind the camera rarely exceeded the level of equipment and resources he worked with. A semi-exception was this Spanish production, which was advertised as the most faithful version of the book up to that time.
That must have been what Franco used to lure Christopher Lee into the project, who by then had publicly stated he was exhausted from playing the role after five entries from Hammer. In effect, Count Dracula is fairly faithful to the book and is notable for being the first version of the story to show Dracula getting younger as the story progresses. When we first meet him, he has white hair and a mustache (just like in the novel), a detail that wasn’t rolled out again until Coppola’s 1992 version.
Van Helsing (the great Herbert Lom), Harker, Dr. Seward, Lucy (played by cult Spanish actress Soledad Miranda), Mina and even Quincey Morris are all here (Arthur Holmwood is not here), the next film d pretty close to Stoker’s account. until the end. The problem is that Franco’s direction is more reckless than ever, and the casting beyond Lom and Lee (who isn’t in much of the picture) isn’t very good at all. It’s just boring and visually uninteresting, even with some striking Spanish locations making it a curio for finalists but not worth the time for the casual viewer.