Drácula (Dracula, Spanish Version) Reviews

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½ April 23, 2015
Despite being basically a alternative version of the Bela Lugosi film, this edition is longer, more cinematic, and creepier. While the pacing is slower and the acting not as memorable, it still pulls off the atmosphere and story nicely, and in some ways, better than the English-counterpart.
December 27, 2014
A More erotic and coherent version than the English version of this Classic. But then Latin censors were more understanding of Dracula's "erotic charms"...
½ May 24, 2013
There's a tendency to say that this version of "Dracula" is better than it's more famous cousin. I wouldn't say that. They complement each other, one is strong where the other is week and vice-versa, neither really being meaningfully better or worse than the other. The Spanish version is a more lusty and lively take on the material. It's loose where Browning's "Dracula" is stiff and is generally an edgier film. The actors playing the heroes are easier to warm up to. Where it really suffers is not having Bela Lugosi and Dwight Frye on hand. Carlos Villarías is just fine as Dracula, but Lugosi is magnetic. Pablo Álvarez Rubio is really good as Renfield, but he lacks Frye's oddball, otherwordly appeal. The first half hour of this version particularly suffers. Where Browning's version initially grabs you by the throat, this version is a poor copy.
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2014
A stunningly atmospheric horror tale shot during 1931 Dracula's off time, this Spanish language version bests it's legendary English counterpart by a bloody great degree. Like English version director Tod Browning, George Melford came from an impressive run in silent film (The Sheik). It shows. Whereas the former evinces a sloppy Devil-May-Care approach to Bram Stoker's novel, the latter took full advantage of the production's studio resources, crafting an oftentimes more frightening scaremaker. Admittedly, the English language version remains more iconic for two reasons: Lugosi's introduction and Browning's spine-tingling take on the ghost ship just can't be touched.

In this unrated Spanish language version of the horror classic, the ancient vampire Count Dracula (Carlos Villarias) arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina (Lupita Tovar).

Granted, some tropes came down to culture (Mexico allowed for more cleavage and actual rats used in place of opossums), but the shadows fall in the right place as did the thrills. Of course, nothing at the time trumps Bela Lugosi in the titular role. In fact, wild-eyed vampire Carlos Villarias sometimes looks like a goofy game show host when he should be playing up the Latin lover angle. Vibrant Lupita Tovar and seemingly psychotic Pablo Alvarez Rubio (as Renfield), however, make up the difference.

Bottom line: Fangs for the Memories
½ December 28, 2010
At the same time Universal Studios was producing the classic "Dracula" film starring Béla Lugosi, they were making another version of "Dracula" with a Spanish cast and crew on the same set; this was apparently common practice in the early days of the sound era in cinema. But this isn't just "Dracula" spoken in Spanish; it's very much a different interpretation. Scenes play out differently, and there are different cinematic techniques. The result is a film that's a classic 1930s horror film in its own right.

HOWEVER...this one is sort of graded on a curve. Back when these movies were being made, the English version would shoot during the day, while the Spanish version would shoot at night. Therefore, the Spanish crew got to watch the English raw footage in the evening, so they would figure out different camera angles and different uses of lighting. In those cases, there are times when this film is superior. But they had a huge advantage at their disposal; it makes me wonder what would've happened if the Spanish version shot in the morning, and the English version shot at night.

So it's going to be difficult for me to properly review this, because I already described the story in my review of the English "Dracula" last year. The best way I can review "Drácula" is to compare the execution of its scenes, based on the cinematography and the performances. But I'll give you a real quick rundown of the plot anyway. A man named Renfield (Pablo Álvarez Rubio) travels to Transylvania to see Count Dracula (Carlos Villarías), despite the villagers' warnings. Dracula is, of course, a vampire, and he makes Renfield his slave before they travel to England and meet the other characters of the story.

Carlos Villarías is really good as Dracula. While Lugosi played him sinister with that Devil's stare, Christopher Lee played him like a violent predator, Villarías plays him more like a mad-eyed lunatic. Often, his eyes are bugging out and he looks ready to snap at any second. The same applies for Pablo Álvarez Rubio as Renfield. The scene where authorities discover him on the ship cackling like a maniac is a prime example of his performance.

For the most part, I actually find the supporting cast better than the English version; I just think there's more conviction in their faces, particularly from Professor Van Helsing (Eduardo Arozamena) and Eva (Lupita Tovar), who has the same role as Mina. That's something else to mention; the characters' names are altered slightly to make them appear more Spanish. Jonathan Harker is now Juan Harker, Lucy Weston is now Lucía Weston, etc.

But the biggest differences in this film are the cinematography and the runtime. This film is roughly half an hour longer; part of the reason is the movie really takes its time. There are plenty of moments where the atmosphere takes over for long periods of time. That's a good change. But sometimes they have scenes go on longer, which I don't necessarily agree with. I feel like the English version did a good job with not showing everything; there was more mystery, like in scenes where Dracula hypnotizes someone. But there are good scene changes, like when Renfield passes out in the bedroom in Dracula's castle. In the English version, the scene fades out after he falls. In this one, he falls, and then Dracula's vampire brides slowly descend on him. That's a really impressive change because it still leaves that mystery, and adds a new creepy element.

There are also new camera tricks. In the original, when Renfield first meets Dracula, it's an ordinary still shot from afar as he appears at the top of the stairs. But in this one, it's more of a point-of-view shot as the camera moves up the stairs, with Dracula perched at the top. But again, it doesn't always work effectively. In the later scene when Van Helsing shows Dracula the mirror where he doesn't have a reflection, I prefer the English version because of how fast and angrily Dracula reacts. In this version, it's sort of unnecessarily delayed and actually kind of awkward. Also, the moment where the maid faints after Renfield laughs doesn't seem right here. It doesn't seem like the kind of laugh someone would faint from; the English film had it down perfectly.

Now for all my nitpickings, let me make it clear: "Drácula" is a great movie. It still has that eerie, disturbing atmosphere thanks to its great use of shadows, and the performances are solid. Because it stands out so much from the English film, it firmly establishes its own identity, and can't just be called a remake. Like the English version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," it's its own interpretation in comparison to the version that already existed.

This movie was thought lost for decades before turning up in the 1970s; I'm very glad for that, because this is a movie that deserves to be seen by horror fans, just as long as they don't mind having to read subtitles. So while I definitely prefer the English film to the Spanish one, I acknowledge this movie's strong points, and in some cases, its stronger points. It's flawed, but it's still a real treat.
September 26, 2012
I Don't Like The Spanish Version Of 1931's Dracula, I Only Like The English-Language Version Of 1931's Dracula With Bela Lugosi, I Don't Watch The Spanish Version Of 1931's Dracula On The 75th Anniversary Edition DVD On Disc Two Of 1931's Dracula That I Own, I Only Watch The English-Language Version Of 1931's Dracula With The Original Soundtrack Not The English-Language Version Of 1931's Dracula With The Philip Glass Score On The 75th Anniversary Edition DVD On Disc One Of 1931's Dracula That I Own.
½ September 7, 2013
A little more stylized than the 1931 original, #UniversalStudio 's #SpanishVersion of #Dracula is a little bit better than #BelaLugosi 's take on the #PrinceofDarkness 3.5/5 #bluray
July 9, 2013
I believe this film is every bit as good as the English version and in many ways better. The cinematography when Renfield is going to visit Dracula is much improved in this version. The man who plays Dracula in this one gives off a more crazy vibe than threatening -- Lugosi's dracula was more threatening and almost makes you wish he was in this spanish one as it's superior in almost every other way.
½ March 3, 2013
I've heard that some people prefer this to Lugosi's Dracula, but I couldn't disagree more. Had great difficulty taking the main actor seriously as the Count. He was basically just Emilio Delgado in a cowl.
February 27, 2013
The Best version of Dracula out there.
½ February 24, 2013
By now, I'm sure you know the story of this version of Dracula, aka filmed at night, same sets as the Original Universal Dracula. Is it better? Well, it all depends on your point of view I guess. I think Lugosi is the better vampire, but Pablo Rubjo plays a far better Renfield! I think it was interesting to find out in the documentary about the original Dracula, that the Spanish producers would watch the original cinematographers at work and say 'we can do better then that!' and which they did. Some scenes flow FAR better, and there's a lot more foreboding and more sexuality then the Universal's attempt. Also the film pays a lot more attention to Renfield this time out, which sort of drags the film down (Yeah yeah, the rats, get on with it will ya?) and the ending has a far more satisfactory conclusion. So I guess my mind is made up.. what about yours?
½ February 2, 2013
While Universal's DRACULA was being filmed in the daylight hours, a lesser-known classic was also taking shape as night fell on the studio backlot. In almost every way (save for Bela Lugosi's iconic performance), the Spanish-language version of DRACULA is the superior film. Using the same costumes, script, and sets as the English version, it would seem that the end result would be very similar, however there are many distinct differences that set the two films apart. George Melford's DRACULA is filled with romanticized performances from each of the expressive cast members, lead by the beautiful and enchanting Lupita Tovar playing Eva Seward (this version's Mina). Likewise, Melford and cinematographer George Robinson explore each of the sets with more artful enthusiasm than the Browning/Freund team. Carlos Villarías would star as this version's Dracula, and while he is very good, some of his more comical movements and mannerisms may have resulted from his instructions to imitate Bela Lugosi's performance. Still, he brings an air of sophistication and menace of his own that allow him to excel in the role. The Spanish DRACULA cannot be overlooked by fans now that it is available in wide circulation, and it is should be considered right alongside the English version as a classic of its era.

-Carl Manes
I Like Horror Movies
January 23, 2013
Better than the Browning version.
January 23, 2013
Great movie i am very surprised in how much more they showed within the movie than the original Dracula. The major difference is Bela Lugosi look and the assistant they both are great in their own ways wonderful movie give it a try if you know Spanish or find one with English subtitles.
½ January 16, 2013
The extra half hour does not help the pacing issues, and Bela Lugosi's replacement obviously can't compare.
½ October 27, 2011
Villar­as hams it up but at least he doesn't look like he'd rather be somewhere else like Lugosi and most of the other actors in the English-language version.
October 12, 2012
The Spanish version of Dracula is a very fascinating film. Carlos Villarías isn't quite as haunting as Bela Lugosi but he's still oddly charismatic.
½ September 22, 2012
Same film, but in Spanish, and completely re-taped.
April 1, 2009
El director George Melford utiliza los mismos escenarios que el director Tod Browning uso para su version de "Dracula" y nos presenta su version en espanol, cuyas actuaciones son terribles, pero su atmosfera genuinamente aterradora.
August 4, 2012
Yes, it is true what they say. This one is scarier than the English version.
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