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“Dracula: The 75th Anniversary Edition”
Wayne A. Klein
Studio: Universal Home Video
Genre: Horror
Special Features: Feature Commentary with Film Historian David J. Shal ; Feature Commentary with Steve Haberman, Screenwriter of "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" Score by Philip Glass Performed by The Kronos Quartet, Lugosi: The Dark Prince, The Road to Dracula , Monster Tracks, Theatrical Trailers, Dracula (1931) Spanish Version, Introduction to the Spanish Version of Dracula by Lupita Tovar Kohner, Universal,Horror, Poster Montage

Universal sinks its teeth into the wallet of vintage horror fans yet again with the third reissue of “Dracula” on DVD. Todd Browning’s film was stilted lacking the visual imagination of his silent films after the suitably atmospheric opening. It was Bela Lugosi’s unusual and mesmerizing performance as Count Dracula that really captured audiences in the first official film version of Stoker’s novel. Based on John L. Balderston and Hamilton Deane’s stage adaptation of Stoker’s novel the film like many of the early t alkies tends to be a bit too static without the fluid camera movement of later early talkies. Lugosi made the role his own so much so that he was dogged by it for the rest of his life but like his rival Boris Karloff it did guarantee a certain amount of employment throughout his career. Lugosi reportedly hated Karloff because his rival managed to expand into other roles and became a much bigger film star than he did during his career. Nevertheless the two ended up appearing in many films together. Karloff to his credit never hated Lugosi but believed that his career was limited by the fact that he initially learned English phonetically for the role and that Lugosi’s pretensions as an actor prevented him from achieving the fame that his talent so deserved. ---

Image & Sound:

This is the third go round for “Dracula” on DVD and Universal has wisely digitally remastered the image digitally improving the registration of the film resulting in steadier images. Considering that the original nitrate negative dissipated into dust long ago the film looks extremely good. An interpositive dupe of the original negative was probably the source here. Nevertheless the film did suffer from overprinting of the negative resulting in the original negative being in thread bear shape prior to the dupe used for this edition being made. The audio as can be expected of an early talkie is flat but not completely lifeless. There is some mild hiss but it’s just a reminder that this is an early talkie. The soundtrack doesn’t sound as dreadful as the earlier cleaned up edition of the film where audio would go to low levels of hiss along with the dialogue to complete and utter silence. A pity that the Spanish version of "Dracula" hasn't been given as complete a digital clean up as the "classic" version of the film. ---

Special Features:

On the first disc we get a very good commentary from film historian and documentary film director David J. Shal and, curiously, one from screenwriter Steven Haberman who wrote the parody “Dracula: Dead and Loving It”. Philip Glass’ recent film score performed by The Kronos Quartet is included as well. Glass’ score adds a classy and eerie atmosphere to the film. “The Road to Dracula” is a featurette that was ported over from the previous release. “Monster Tracks” provides trivia about the making of the film. “Lugosi: The Dark Prince” is a very good featurette on the actor that came to embody the role for a generation of filmgoers. ***

We also get the superior Spanish language version of “Dracula”. Visually superior to Browning’s version and nearly 30 minutes longer the film was made on the same sets as the English language version on a swing shift schedule. Although it lacks Lugosi’s powerful performance as Dracula the Spanish version is in just about every other way superior to Browning’s film. We also get on the second disc an introduction by actress Lupita Tovar Kohner who appeared in the film, the feature length documentary “Universal Horror”, a poster montage and the 1940’s re-issue theatrical trailer for the film. ---

Final Words:

Although we do get a couple of new features here this is essentially the same release as the previous versions. Fans that want only the Browning film along with the terrific Spanish language version will probably snatch this up. Comparing the two films it is fascinating to see the differences in these two films directed by two very different film directors.


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