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Tagline : "The story of the strangest passion the world has ever known!"

Dracula (1931)This classic 1931 adaptation of Bram Stoker's literary character stars now legendary Bela Lugosi as the infamous count, who's looking to relocate from his Transylvanian castle to Carfax Abby in merry old England.

The film starts with English solicitor Renfield (A composite of the characters of Renfield and Jonathon Harker from the original book, played by Dwight Frye), who's travelling through Rural Transylvania to Count Dracula's castle in order to help him with the legal process of moving house. However, he is somewhat perturbed by the locals attitudes towards the count, who seem to be scared stiff at the mere mention of his name and refuse to leave the safety of their homes after dark.

Heading up to the castle regardless, he meets the enigmatic Dracula (horror icon Bela Lugosi in his first major screen role), only to discover there is good reason for the locals to be scared of him. Days later, a ship is washed up on the shores of Whitby, England, with all the crew dead and nothing but a bunch of coffins in the hold, along with Renfield, who's now quite mad.

Shortly afterwards, the new owner of Carfax Abby introduces himself and is charming his way around the locals, which coincides with a slew of dead bodies popping up around the place with bight marks on the neck. It is only when Dracula takes an interest in the daughter of Dr Seward, young Mina (Helen Chandler), that her Fiancé Jonathan Harker (David Manners) suspects the Count is not all he seems. Particularly as she starts exhibiting strange behaviour shortly afterwards.

Fortunately, one of the local scientists, Dr Van Helsing (Edward Sloan), thinks he has an idea about what's going on and who this Count Dracula really is. As well as what's afflicting poor old Renfield, who's in Dr Seward's asylum, and why large bats have been spotted in the area and wolf howls can be heard at night. Yes it seems old Dracula is a vampire and its now up to Van Helsing and John Harker to try and stop him before Mina fully turns into one herself and the count kills any more people.

Directed by Tod Browning (who also directed the infamous "Freaks" and "London After Midnight"), a few things have been altered from the original story, partly due to the fact it was based on the stage play, as opposed to the novel itself, and partly due for time, as the film is only just over an hour long. But it still manages to capture all the raw elements and the main essence of the story.

Obviously, this early black and white adaptation may seem very old and dated now, being made in the early 1930s, when talking pictures where still a relatively new invention. But the film is still an interesting piece of horror cinema, which was not only the archetype of the classic "gothic" vampire film, but also launched horror icon Bela Lugosis screen career and proved to be so popular, that it helped transform Universal Studios from a small independent company into a major Hollywood studio.

If you're a vampire movie fan, or a lover of old black and white horrors then this film is essential viewing. However, if your love of vampires extends only to "Twilight" films (*BLEEEEUURGHHH*) then this one is not for you.

Overall Marks : 4/10

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