Dracula (1931)

Passed   |    |  Drama, Fantasy, Horror


Dracula (1931) Poster

The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina.


7.5/10
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  • Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931)
  • Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931)
  • Bela Lugosi and Helen Chandler in Dracula (1931)
  • Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931)
  • Dracula (1931)
  • Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931)

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14 September 2001 | Shield-3
The Flawed Masterpiece
The 1931 `Dracula' casts an imposing shadow over the horror genre. It is, after all, the movie that launched the classic Universal horror cycle of the 1930s and 1940s. It is also a tremendous influence on the look and atmosphere of horror movies in general (and vampire movies in particular). It gave Dracula a look and a voice, and created a legend.

Okay, so we know it was influential. But how does it work as a movie? Well… the first time I watched it, I was underwhelmed. The pace is slow. While Bela Lugosi's Dracula is menacing, the rest of the cast is colorless to the point of transparency. There are some good gliding camera shots here and there (thank you, Karl Freund!), but the majority of the film is locked into stationary medium and long shots. The film is tightly bound to its theatrical origins – director Browning has his characters look at things out of frame and describe them rather than just showing us, which would be much more effective.

Fortunately, `Dracula' improves with repeated viewings. The glacial pace and lack of sound in many places gives the movie a nightmarish sense of menace. In fact, `Dracula' is somewhere between a nightmare and a piece of classical music – everything proceeds at its own pace, gliding through the motions, gradually building suspense and momentum until the piece reaches climax. The end result is a flawed but haunting, hypnotic masterpiece, and one of the greatest vampire films ever made.

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