Hope everyone had a lovely Halloween (or is in the process of having one).
Mine was a rather pedestrian experience – chilling at home and watching my hometown Mets (ARGH-don’t touch me) play in the World Series. But also managing to find some time to catch a few scary films to get me in the mood.
TCM and Fathom Events teamed up this past week to display the Universal classic Dracula double-bill on the big screen. I was very tempted to head down the street to my local multiplex and watch the Tod Browning/Bela Lugosi film followed by the much-ballyhooed Spanish-language version of Gothic horror, I opted to watch in the luxury of my home.
Granted I had seen the Lugosi version many, many times – although it is kind of funny that on every screening, I forget that I have actually seen it. So basically it feels fresh and new to me.
What I have not done is caught the Spanish bloodsucking version.
For the uninitiated, you might be asking yourself – what is a Spanish version? While Universal’s objective was clearly to focus on the English version, it was not completely unheard of for studios during this time to produce a foreign language version of their English-language productions. This was a very economical approach when you think about it – in the case of Dracula, the main feature could be shot during the day with the Spanish-language version shot in the evening – both using the same exact sets, etc. The only variations are (of course, the actors), who were native Spanish speakers from Mexico, Spain and Central/South America. The film was directed by non-Spanish speaking George Melford and starred Carlos Villarías as the Count and Lupita Tovar as Eva, the equivalent of the English-language Mina.
A frame by frame summary/comparison between the films is pretty much a pointless exercise because they are almost shot for shot reproductions. That said, I can kind of see why many have praised the latter version, with some even going as far as citing it as the superior of the two. Where the Lugosi version felt as a bit stilted (possibly due to its stage play origins?) the Melford version felt more fluid and cinematic, with varying camera angles. It also had the benefit of a longer running time – Drácula (emphasis on the first A) clocked in at about 30 additional minutes. I suspect the extra time helped greatly is fleshing out the story.
Have you seen this version? What are your thoughts?