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As of this review, this film is 85 years old...and still stands as perhaps the finest cinematic version of Dracula to date. Manages to be really creepy without showing one fang or drop of blood - and Bela Lugosi's performance is absolutely perfect. Shows you don't need the jump scares and excessive gore to deliver a superbly effective horror film.
|Bela Lugosi||Count Dracula|
|Helen Chandler||Mina Harker|
|David Manners||Jonathan Harker|
|Edward Van Sloan||Professor Abraham Van Helsing|
|Herbert Bunston||Dr. Jack Seward|
|Frances Dade||Lucy Westenra|
|Charles K. Gerrard||Martin|
|Karl Freund||Director of Photography|
|Hamilton Deane||Theatre Play|
|John L. Balderston||Theatre Play|
|Philip Glass||Original Music Composer|
|Maurice Pivar||Supervising Film Editor|
|Carl Laemmle Jr.||Producer|
|Charles D. Hall||Art Direction|
|C. Roy Hunter||Recording Supervision|
|Bram Stoker||Story Contributor|
|John L. Balderston||Story Contributor|
|Hamilton Deane||Story Contributor|
"The story of the strangest passion the world has ever known!"
Renfield (Dwight Frye) is a solicitor on his way to the Castle belonging to Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) in Transylvania on a business matter. The people in the local village are fearful that vampires inhabit the castle and warn Renfield not to go there. Renfield refuses to stay at the local inn and asks the driver of the carriage that brought him to the village to take him to the Borgo Pass. The innkeeper's wife gives Renfield a crucifix for protection before he leaves. He is driven to the castle by Dracula's coach, with Dracula himself disguised as the driver. During the trip, Renfield sticks his head out the window to ask the driver to slow down, but is startled to see that the driver has disappeared, and a bat is leading the horses.
Renfield enters the castle welcomed by the charming but eccentric Count, who unbeknownst to Renfield, is a true vampire. They discuss Dracula's intention to lease Carfax Abbey in London, where he intends to travel the next day. Dracula then leaves and hypnotizes Renfield into opening a window. He faints as a bat appears and Dracula's three wives suddenly appear and start to close in on him. Dracula then arrives and waves them away before he attacks Renfield himself.
Aboard the schooner Vesta, bound for England, Renfield is now a raving lunatic slave to Dracula, who is hidden in a coffin and gets out for feeding on the ship's crew. When the ship arrives in England, Renfield is discovered to be the only living person in it; the captain is lashed on the wheel and none of the ship’s crew is discovered. Renfield is sent to Dr. Seward’s sanatorium which is adjoined with Carfax Abbey.
Some nights later at a London theatre, Dracula meets Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston), who is with a group in a box seat area. Seward introduces his daughter Mina (Helen Chandler), her fiancé John Harker (David Manners), and the family friend Lucy Weston (Frances Dade). Lucy is fascinated by Count Dracula, and that night, after Lucy falls asleep in bed, Dracula enters her room as a bat and feasts on her blood. She dies in an autopsy theatre the next day after a string of transfusions, and two tiny marks on her throat are discovered.
Renfield has become obsessed with eating flies and spiders and Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) analyzes Renfield's blood and discovers his obsession. He starts talking about vampires, and that afternoon chats with Renfield, who begs Dr. Seward to send him away, because his nightly cries may disturb Mina’s dreams. When Dracula awakes and calls Renfield with wolf howling, Renfield is disturbed by Van Helsing showing him a branch of wolfbane. Van Helsing says its a plant used for protection from vampires.
Dracula visits Mina, asleep in her bedroom, and bites her, leaving neck marks similar to those on Lucy. The next evening, Mina tells of a dream in which she was visited by stranger with 'red eyes and a white, livid face'. Then, Dracula enters for a night's visit and Van Helsing and Harker notice that Dracula does not have a reflection in a mirror. When Van Helsing shows this "most amazing phenomenon" to Dracula, he reacts violently, smashes the mirror and leaves. Van Helsing deduces that Dracula is the vampire behind the recent tragedies.
Meanwhile, Mina leaves her room and runs to Dracula in the garden, where he wraps his cape around her and attacks her. She is found moments later by the house maid and Seward, Van Helsing, and Harker retrieve her, while Dracula hides behind a tree. Newspapers report that a "mysterious, beautiful woman in white" has been luring children from the park with chocolate, and then biting them. Mina recognizes the beautiful lady as Lucy, who has risen as a vampire. Harker wants to take Mina to London for safety, but he is finally convinced to leave Mina with them. Van Helsing orders Nurse Briggs (Joan Standing) to take care of Mina when she is sleeping, and not to remove the wreath of wolfbane from around her neck.
Renfield escapes from his cell and listens to the three men discussing vampires. Before Martin (Charles K. Gerrard), his attendant, arrives to take Renfield back to his cell, Renfield relates to Van Helsing, Harker and Seward how Dracula convinced Renfield to allow him to enter the sanitorium by promising him thousands of rats with blood and life in them.
Dracula enters the Seward parlour and talks with Van Helsing. Dracula states that because he has fused his blood with Mina's, she now belongs to him. Van Helsing swears revenge by excavating Carfax Abbey and finding the coffin where he sleeps; he will then thrust a stake through his heart. Dracula tries to hypnotize Van Helsing, but without success. Van Helsing shows a crucifix to the vampire and Dracula turns away and flees the house.
Harker visits Mina on a terrace, and Mina speaks of how much she loves "nights and fogs". Harker notices Mina’s changes, not realizing that she is slowly transforming into a vampire. A bat (Dracula) flies above them and squeaks to Mina. She then tries to attack Harker but Van Helsing and Dr. Seward arrive just in time to save him. Mina confesses what Dracula has done to her, and tries to tell Harker that their love is finished.
Later that night, Dracula hypnotizes Nurse Briggs into removing the wolfbane wreath from Mina's neck and opening the windows so he can enter. Van Helsing and Harker see Renfield, having just escaped from his cell, heading for Carfax Abbey. They see Dracula with Mina in the abbey. When Harker shouts to Mina, Dracula sees them, thinking Renfield had led them there. He strangles Renfield and tosses him down a staircase, and is hunted by Van Helsing and Harker. Dracula is forced to sleep in his coffin, as sunrise has come, and is trapped. Van Helsing prepares a wooden stake while Harker searches for Mina. Dracula moans in pain when Van Helsing impales him, and Mina returns to normal. Harker leaves with her while Van Helsing stays.
Theatrical : 1947-06-01 : United States of America