Killer Thursdays

Fear Friday Feature 1: Dracula (1931 film)

First up for the Fear Friday Feature is the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.

As Bela Lugosi is Dracula in my mind’s eye, I was surprised to realize that I had never actually watched the original movie. Clearly, Lugosi’s portrayal set the standard for the character of Dracula and for our popular notions of vampires in general. Bela Lugosi’s Dracula is the image of the sexy, gentleman vampire. Those burning eyes, that ever-so-slightly lifted eyebrow, the elegant hands reaching for a pale throat, and the sweep of his glorious cape.

The other delight of this film was Dwight Frye‘s Renfield. He starts out as a rather innocent and earnest young solicitor who travels to Dracula’s castle to assist the Count with some real estate matters. Soon enough, he falls under the vampire’s spell and ends up in an asylum. His vacillation between raving loony and would-be hero pleading with Van Helsing and Dr. Seward to stop Count Dracula and save Mina drives both empathy and tension. Renfield‘s wild eyes and maniacal laughter are nearly as chilling and compelling as Dracula’s cool, calculated mannerisms.

The film is certainly sedate by modern standards (and I’m sure some would say that’s the fault of our minds sadly being saturated with all the razzle-dazzle of more modern films…and probably video games) and the storyline isn’t as tight as I would like. Still, I’d highly recommend the film to any fan of the vampire or horror genre, if only to see Bela Lugosi in action.

Photo Credit: Image is in the public domain (found via Wikipedia)


Have you ever seen the 1931 Dracula? What do you think of it? Any thoughts on Bela Lugosi’s Dracula versus Bram Stoker’s? Do you have a favorite vampire?


I’ve launched a new Twitter hashtag, #FearFridayFeature. You’re invited to come hang out with all things classic horror. Please stop by!

16 thoughts on “Fear Friday Feature 1: Dracula (1931 film)

  1. Great film I have seen it. I prefer Nosferatu the 1921 film that is not about Dracula but is. Apparently they couldn’t get permission to use the Dracula name so called it Nosferatu. It is a beautifully atmospheric movie and although a bit creaky (OK a lot creaky) by today’s standards I still love it.

    1. Nosferatu is on my list. I’ve heard some interesting things with regard to the stir it caused (being an unsanctioned Dracula movie and all). Also, as I understand it, the Count in Nosferatu sticks closer to the evil monster in Bram Stoker’s novel.

      1. I’ve only seen bits and pieces from Dracula, but I’ve seen Nosferatu in its entirety. I find that Bela Lugosi’s (or it it Dracula’s) relative civility makes him a little less creepy than Max Schreck as Orlok, who seems to be more feral and almost mad. Personally, I’d rather run into Bela in a dark alley than Max.

        I also liked Willem Dafoe in Shadow of the Vampire, which is a fictional depiction of the making of Nosferatu. I thought he did a good job.

        As for the newer Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I can’t say I’ve ever been able to watch it from beginning to end in one sitting. As much as I like Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins, the real terrors in that film were Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves, complete with so-called British accents.

        1. Ah yes, the British accents. Those were pretty funny. Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins though…oh yeah! 😀

          I haven’t seen Shadow of the Vampire. That’s going on my list too. Along with Nosferatu. The bits of Nosferatu that I’ve seen have definitely left a much creepier impression. Feral is a good description. Bela’s Dracula is almost too civil to be scary at all.

  2. I thought Renfield was the creepiest part of that movie. What was the scene, where people find him in the cargo hold of a ship? It’s been a few years since I saw it, but his laughter is definitely creep inspiring!

  3. I have not seen the 1931 version, but I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Sadly, I haven’t seen many black and whites….

    My favorite vampire? Mick St. John from Moonlight (TV)….from the movies? I keep going back to Jerry from Fright Night. I can’t wait to see Colin Farrell revise the role next month. I have a special Boo Factor all lined up for FN.

    1. I do like Mick. I got sidetracked when we changed DVRs and haven’t seen the show in awhile (note self: record Moonlight). I haven’t seen Fright Night in a loooong time. I’ll have to check it out again. Other than Bela…Spike from Buffy would be it. So unapologetically bad when he was bad and charming when we was getting all redeemed (maybe not so much when he was mooning over Buffy though). 😀

  4. Oooo, Bela Lugosi is one of my all time favorites. He is also one of the greatest actors of his era. I have a friend that speaks Bela’s name with an odd amount of reverence (all hail Bela). Yeah.

    Great post, Sonia 🙂

    1. He was pretty spectacular. I must find more of his movies to watch. The image of Bela’s Dracula was so strong that I was really shocked that I’d never seen the movie before. I guess it just demonstrates how powerful his influence was.

  5. Bela Lugosi was a wonderful vampire. He was sort of sexy but the vampire as a real sexpot didn’t happen until Christopher Lee (still my fave – love those big brown eyes and that sonorous deep voice! I’d still shag him today and he’s gonna be 90 soon 😉

    I also liked Frank Langella as a sexy vampire…but we can’t forget Chris Sarandon in Fright Night!!! Still a must-watch for every Halloween!

    1. I haven’t seen Christopher Lee’s Dracula. That will have to go on my list too! I loved him in LOTR.

      And Frank Langella’s Dracula! I’d forgotten that one. Don’t know how I could have forgotten though. Shame on me! 😀

  6. I just watched this for the first time last year. Loved it! Two fun stories for you direct from my brain that houses odd tidbits of information. Ok, first if you ever saw or read anything by Sylvia Browne, she’s a renowned psychic, and in her book Visits From the Afterlife, she goes to Bela’s house and says he is still there as a ghost never outliving his most famous roll as Dracula, which is fascinating and actually rather sad, which his life was. I believe he was addicted to morphine and died of an overdose.

    Story two: Have you seen the movie Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp? Ed Wood is the world’s worst movie maker. The awards for Worst Film of all time have actually said his film can’t compete anymore because it’s won so many times. Won for the worst movie ever! That movie is Plan 9 From Outer Space, which has Bela Lugosi in it. He and Ed became friends in his final days. In fact, Lugosi died during filming, and the role was taken over by Wood’s girlfriend’s chiropractor! The “double” walked around the whole film with a cape over his mouth to hide the fact he wasn’t the real Bela Lugosi.

    Seriously, we need a movie marathon. I’ll host! Bring dip!

    1. Absolutely need a movie marathon!!!

      I haven’t read or seen anything by Sylvia Browne. I’ll have to check that out too. I did hear that the role of Dracula typecast Bela something fierce. It’s a shame because he was such a wonderful actor. I heard he was buried in one of his Dracula capes and that made me feel a little sad. Even in death he was stuck with Dracula.

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