Film Review: The Dracula Legacy (1931-1945)


Dracula (1931)

Whenever Bela Lugosi isn’t on screen, you can’t wait for him to return. His iconic portrayal is by far the best thing this movie has going for itself. I also liked some of the sets and Dwight Frye’s crazy performance as Renfeld. The rest of the cast are not particularly good, and I would like for the Dracula/Mina relationship to have been better developed (it’s really nonexistent in this version).

My main gripe is with the ending. The finale feels very rushed and anticlimactic. Dracula doesn’t even get killed onscreen — it’s only in distant voice over that you hear him dying. In the pantheon of classic Universal Monsters, Dracula may have been first, but he’s my least favorite. I much prefer James Whales’ work on Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man. And as far as Dracula re-tellings go, I’d pick Hammer’s or Coppola’s versions over this one. Sorry, Dracky. (Don’t bite me.)

PS: If you have the chance, I’d recommend seeing this movie with the new Philip Glass score. Otherwise, the original soundtrack features only some Tchaikovsky playing over the opening credits. (This movie came out before full musical scores became the norm.)

Rating: 2.5/5 ★★½☆☆ 


Dracula [Spanish Version] (1931)

The Spanish-language version of Universal’s famous monster movie is marginally better than the English-language version (both were shot concurrently on the same sets using two different casts). It features better photography and pacing. The ending is much less hurried and the script fills in a lot of narrative gaps that you’ll find in the English version. The cast is as good as the English one, except for Carlos Villarias as Dracula. He’s not bad. He’s just no Bela Lugosi. My main problem (with both versions) is that the narrative loses momentum once Dracula arrives at Carfax Abbey. From that point forward, Renfield, in both versions, is a more engaging character than Dracula.

Rating: 2.75/5 ★★¾☆☆ 


Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

An odd follow-up that doesn’t generate much fright or interest until its final scenes. The only nearly-spooky scene is the famous one with lesbian overtones, where Gloria Holden asks a girl to undress for her before she kills her. Other than that, this movie has little going for it.

Rating: 2/5 ★★☆☆☆ 


Son of Dracula (1943)

Lon Chaney, Jr. makes a terrible Dracula. His performance is something out of Ed Wood, and is the worst part in a flick that might otherwise be mediocre. Extra credit, however, for the appropriately somber ending.

Rating: 2/5 ★★☆☆☆ 


Into the Dark - Film Review: The Dracula Legacy (1931-1945)

House of Dracula (1945)

Usually, when they start doing House of… sequels, you know you’re in for a bad ride. Not so for House of Dracula, which somehow manages to be a teeny bit more interesting than Universal’s previous Dracula sequels.

Bela Lugosi is not in the film, so instead we have the ubercool John Carradine playing Dracky — not the best casting, but I like Carradine so I’ll go with it. Lon Chaney Jr is back as the Wolf Man, and actually seems to be the movie’s main monster character. Chaney is very comfortable in the role by now, and the movie gives us 2 or 3 good old fashioned werewolf transformations. Frankenstein’s monster shows up just in time for an abrupt finale, and there’s a beautiful hunchback nurse thrown into the pot for good measure. The concept is so stupid, it’s almost genious, and the whole affair is almost entertaining enough to recommend.

Rating: 2.5/5 ★★½☆☆ 



About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (

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