|Date of Release:||April 24, 1931|
Dracula is a 1931 American horror film directed by George Melford. The film is based on both the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker and the play Dracula by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. The film is about Renfield (Pablo Alvarez Rubio), who travels to Translyvania to visit Count Dracula. He is drugged by the Count and becomes his minion. The two travel to England, where Dracula begins to seduce Lucy Westenra (Carmen Guerrero) as she becomes his first victim. This leads to Professor Van Helsing (Eduardo Arozamena) to investigate, who confirms that Count Dracula is a vampire.
The film was made as part of Hollywood studios attempts to make films for foreign-language audiences. By 1930, Universal had focused primarily on developing Spanish-language films for the foreign market. Filming began on October 10, 1930 where it was shot on the same sets as Tod Browning's production of Dracula. Director Melford watched the footage of the same day and applied what he saw to film his own version of the film.
The film was released in Cuba in 1931 and for a long time was a forgotten film, only mentioned briefly by some horror film historians in the 1960s and 1970s. The film received greater attention after a screening at the Museum of Modern Art in 1978 which led to a popular home video release on VHS in 1992. Critical reception to this film often compared the two versions of Dracula with some critics weighing the pros and cons of both films based on the explicitness of the Spanish version with its costumes and scenes, the film's length, and the performance of Carlos Villarías as Count Dracula.
Renfield, a solicitor, makes a journey into Transylvania via stagecoach. He mentions his destination, Castle Dracula, to the locals who react with alarm. They tell him Count Dracula is a vampire and when he doesn't believe them, one insists he wear a cross. When he arrives at the Castle, the Count bids him welcome. After drinking drugged wine, Renfield collapses, still wearing the cross, and is bitten. Aboard ship, a now-enslaved Renfield laughs maniacally below as Dracula picks off the crew one by one. When the ship reaches England, he is the only living person found.
Dracula meets Dr. Seward and his family at the opera. Lucia is completely fascinated by him and that night becomes his victim. Professor Van Helsing is called in, and he recognizes the danger for what it is. He also realizes that Dr. Seward's patient Renfield is somehow tied up in events. But soon after meeting the Doctor's new neighbor, Dracula, he figures out who is a vampire—based on the fact Dracula casts no reflection in the mirror. Not a moment too soon, because by now Seward's daughter Eva is falling under his spell. To her horror, she feels increasingly weak and also increasingly wild—at one point attacking her fiancé Juan. With Seward's and Harker's help, Van Helsing seeks to trap Dracula but he outwits them and escapes with Eva by seizing control of a nurse's mind. They follow Renfield into Carfax Abbey—an act which ends with Dracula killing his slave by strangulation then tossing him from a tall staircase. Deep in the catacombs under Carfax, they find Dracula asleep and Eva still alive. Van Helsing drives a stake through the vampire's heart, and as Eva and Harker leave, Van Helsing prays over Renfield's body.