Continuing the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest. This week contains all Dracula movies. Next up is one of the most famous Dracula movies, the one that defined the image of Dracula today. Universal’s 1931 Dracula.
Universal’s Dracula was directed by Tod Browning and starred Bela Lugosi in the title role. The movie wasn’t based directly on Bram Stoker’s novel, it was actually based on a 1927 theater production of Stoker’s book. Bela had played the Count in that production and actively lobbied to get the movie role as well. However, Universal, after acquiring the rights to the play, wanted Lon Chaney to play Dracula. Unfortunately, Chaney passed away in 1930 before production could begin, so Universal agreed to let Lugosi play Dracula.
The stage play changed much of the detail to Stoker’s novel, but left much of its structure intact. The beginning of the movie is much the same as the novel, however it is Renfield that visits Castle Dracula, not Jonathan Harker, to attend to the Count’s real estate dealings. Renfield is at first attacked by Dracula’s brides, but is then bitten by Dracula himself. Dracula uses Renfield to get himself and his coffins to London safely. When the ship crashes in London, an insane Renfield is found to be the only living person on board. Renfield is sent to Dr Seward’s sanitarium (where he is in the novel). Dr Van Helsing studies Renfield’s blood and talks to him about his obession with eating insects and, of course, vampires.