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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLU RAY package includes excellent Spanish version, July 12, 2013
This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Although I've seen this classic Universal film dozens of times starting at about age 10, this is my first look at the excellent Blu ray transfer available as a stand-alone film or part of the "Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection."

The well-known tale stars Bela Lugosi in his most recognizable role. The Hungarian actor also played the character in the stage production from which much is adapted for this early talking picture. Some will snicker at the mannerisms and heightened theatrics more common in the theater. Even as a great admirer of the movie, I chuckle when I see a couple armadillos scurrying across Dracula's Transylvanian castle.

Lugosi, still struggling with English accentuates his dialog not only with an unusual cadence, enunciating each syllable but seemingly each letter. But Bela was a charmer, especially of the ladies which transformed the Count from the Dracula in Bram Stoker's novel and the first production on film, "Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror" (1922). In F. W. Murnau's film, the Count (Orlok) was ugly, sinister and more in tune with what Stoker had in mind.

One of the things that always bothered me about the film was the lack of a musical score. The story has extended moments of silence, except for noise coming from old tape or DVD transfers. The cleaned up version here, eliminates almost all of the surface noise, and makes the silence even more...well silent. I much prefer the included optional Philip Glass score performed by The Kronos Quartet. I was fortunate to see Glass perform this live accompanying the film a few years ago in Dallas. Which ever audio track you prefer, the sound quality has never been better.

This exquisite 1080p transfer maintains the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and includes a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (mono) option. It is the way to go. Extras include some interesting short documentaries including one introduced and narrated by producer Carl Laemmle's niece who had a small role in the film which included the first words spoken. The package also includes a Spanish language version which was filmed using the same sets at the time, a couple commentary tracks, trailers and more. If you are a fan, you'll want this Blu ray.

"DRACULA" (SPANISH LANGUAGE VERSION): When Tod Browning's game-changing Dracula was being filmed in Hollywood, a Spanish language version was being filmed at night using the same sets and a slightly altered script. In some ways, this is actually a better movie. Unfortunately in some ways it is not.

The first noticeable element is that the film runs nearly 30 minutes longer. Much of this actually provides some context and continuity especially during the voyage of Dracula from Transylvania to England. Some of the length is also just laborious dialog. There are two big improvements over the English language version. First, the creepy atmosphere lingers throughout the movie, rather than just on those early scenes in Drac's castle. For example, when Dracula rises from his daytime slumber, wisps of smoke exude from his coffin before he is seen.

Secondly and most importantly, the leading lady, Lupita Tovar is much sexier and a better actress than Helen Chandler. Now Eva (rather than Mina) has a clear attraction for the Count. Her clothing reveals a bit of décolletage rather than Chandlers buttoned up look. Here Lucia is played by beautiful Carmen Guerrero although her role is scaled back. Like Eva, Lucia is taken with Drac's charms.

To offset these improvements however are two more issues. First and foremost, Carlos Villarias' Dracula is, well...terrible. His over-acting is often laughable to say the least. Bela Lugosi certainly is much better and inhabited the role. I would also point out that in this Spanish version, Renfield takes on a much bigger role and like Villarias, Pablo Alvarez Rubio is no match for his counterpart, Dwight Frye in the English-language version. All in all, this is an interesting comparo to the better known Dracula and is all the better with this Blu ray update included on the same disc.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dracula, July 6, 2013
Dave. K (Staten Island, NY,) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)

**** Out of 5

Tagline- Carl Laemmle Presents the Vampire Thriller!

Release Date- February 14th, 1931

Running Time- 75-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Garrett Fort (Novel- Bram Stoker)

Director- Tod Browning

Starring- Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing

Released in 1931 Dracula is probably the most influential vampire film ever made and one of the biggest hits in the legacy of Universal Pictures. Since its release the good portion of vampire films have taken many elements from this film and every actor to portray Count Dracula is directly inspired by Bela Lugosi (and from time to time Christopher Lee). As much as I enjoy Dracula I'd rate it behind the first 3 Frankenstein films as well as the Wolf-Man, but with that said I actually think in some ways Dracula might hold up a little better than those films (along with the Wolf Man). Obviously in many areas the film is dated as 1931 is far, far behind us and times change and filmmaking techniques change. But I still find Dracula to be an effective chiller and while it may no longer be scary it's still loaded with eerie atmosphere and I'd go as far to say that since the end of the 30s (and even the 40s) many horror films lack the eerie feel many films from this era had. Reading some reviews it's quite a shame the modern audience are for a good portion complete dolts who laugh at the film. You don't have to love the film, but its clear on some reviews these people aren't very bright. By today's standards Dracula may no longer be scary, but I can easily see how this film scared the hell out of audiences in 1931, but its a shame so many cannot appreciate this film for the classic is it since its still a highly enjoyable film. Like I said compared to other Monster movies I'd rate Dracula behind them and in the career of Tod Browning this is his most popular film and by far is most influential and his legacy, but personally I preferred Freaks, The Devil-Doll and Mark of the Vampire (also with Lugosi and a remake of Browning's now lost silent film London After Midnight starting Lon Chaney, Sr).

I think everyone knows the plot behind Dracula so there isn't a reason to rehash it, but as I mentioned before obviously Dracula will be dated, but I still think the film holds up very well and the script by Garrett Fort based off the Bram Stoker novel is well written and plotted and quite honestly I think the script would work well even today with obviously a few changes here and there. Garrett Fort writes an excellent film with mostly solid characters. As the film gets heavier in dialogue it does slightly drop off, but I'd say that's more on the direction than the writing. Fort's screenplay is a winner and set the bar for vampire films and while this wouldn't be my favorite vampire film the iconic status of the film has never been topped and probably never will.

Director Tod Browning came from the silent era and if not mistaken this was his first talking picture and it does sort of show as Dracula can be a little rough, but this greatly adds to the film. Sometimes when a film is a bit raw it adds to the power and had they been made by a more experienced director results wouldn't be the same. Films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left are rough around the edges, but that in part helps make the films so powerful and while Dracula is a completely different film I think the film being rough around the edges in part helps elevate the film. After Dracula I felt Browning would improve and make better films from a technical standpoint. Even though Dracula wasn't my favorite Tod Browning film there are many aspects of the film I love than the films I liked more than this one. There are also stretches with no dialogue (mostly early in the film) and its almost like a silent film and this is where Browning really succeeds. Obviously the film is dated and certain techniques are decades and decades out of date, but even to this day Dracula still has plenty of eerie atmosphere and still retains a lot of its mystery and suspense. While this isn't my favorite Universal Monster film I do think it might hold up the best. I love the visual look of Dracula and the scenes in Dracula's castle in the opening is brilliant; I love the far wide shots and the lack of music really adds to the eerie feel and when I say Dracula holds up well I think the scene in Dracula's castle is highly effective to this day. The 2nd half of the film when it gets a bit more heavy on dialogue, Dracula does slightly lose its edge and it seems to me the most effective scenes are those with little dialogue, but even as the film slips a little, Browning still crafts an eerie and mysterious film.

Dracula is the film that made Bela Lugosi an icon and there is very good reason for that; while some debate on Lugosi or Chris Lee for me there is no debate about it or on anyone else to play Count Dracula. Bela Lugosi is by far the best actor to ever play the role and nobody will ever top it. Lugosi is quite creepy and delivers one of the all time great performances. Edward Van Sloan sadly is forgotten by may despite starring in several of Universal Monster films. Besides Dracula he also appeared in the sequel Dracula's Daughter, Frankenstein and the Mummy and as Van Helsing I'd go as far to say Edward Van Sloan is just as brilliant as Lugosi and like how nobody has topped Lugosi as Dracula, nobody in my opinion has topped Van Sloan.

Dracula is one of the all time greats and while the play like feel can hinder the film I again also feel the film holds up well and is still an eerie film. Lugosi and Van Sloan are a joy to watch and this is the vampire film that forever shaped those kind of films and the horror genre as a whole.

(Blu-ray review section is based off the Monster box set, the solo release will be the same edition).

At the time of the blu-ray release Dracula was 81-years old and Universal delivers a brilliant transfer. Clarity and detail is nothing short of amazing and due to the age of the film Universal could have put less effort and people would chalk it up to age, but Universal stills shows respect for one of the films that helped shape the studio and this is by far the best Dracula has ever looked on home video. The audio is also excellent as gone is the hissing noise and you can now hear things you couldn't on past releases. Extras are all carried over from past releases and as an extra Spanish Dracula makes its HD debut as well.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A VERY VERY OLD HORROR CLASSIC GETS A BLU-RAY RELEASE, September 21, 2013
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This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I Grew up watching this film when it used to be broadcasted on Late night TV
there's a bit of Horror in the film but most of the film is more of a Thriller
so i have alot of respect for this film especially cause it's in black & white which makes it special
colour prints were available but very very expensive in 1930 that is why the film is in black & white
but cause of Technology reasons, colour prints wouldn't of been Good quality anyway
it does not matter, the film is special in Black & white, it would look strange in colour i think.

in 2006 Universal released the 75th Anniversary edition of this film which i bought
which is a 2 Disc set, the U.S. version on Disc 1 and the Spanish version on Disc 2
along with tons of special features
2 Audio commentary tracks by Historian David skal and another commentary by Steve Haberman
who wrote the screenplay for Dracula-Dead and Loving it
plus the Road to Dracula Documentary which is the making of the film and couple other featurettes
the U.S. version released in 1931 is based on a stage play
and in 1930 Universal had a very tight budget and had to cut alot of scenes out from the script
before they filmed the scenes
that is why the U.S. release only goes for 1 hr 15mins
the production was cut aswell that is why the film looks like a play on stage actually
i only realized this when i watched this 75th Anniversary edition

But the Spanish version does go longer about 1 hr 45mins which is about 105mins
i have watched both versions
the spanish version is very similar to the U.S. version but with extra scenes of course
that ties the story together, so not only is the movie longer
but the Production is twice as big as the U.S. production lots of Great special effects
Great Camera work it looks like a Modern day Dracula film
especially when Dracula rises from his coffin, Great effect for the time
But it's all to do with the financial situation back in 1930

on this 2 Disc set the U.S. and Spanish version is only Digital remastered
which looks and sounds Great
there are some scenes in the spanish version where the picture quality has deterioated big time
the first scene right through til Dracula looks at the Lease on Carfax abbey is very clean picture
looks really Good Digital remastered but then some scenes after that the picture and audio quality
Deterioate big time, there's alot of lines on the screen
maybe some of the original negatives were damaged and couldn't be fixed, it's anybody's guess why
but it happens throughout the film some scenes look fantastic Digitally restored and some scenes couldn't be helped
this is the first time i watched the spanish version and i do prefer it compared to the U.S. version
mainly cause of the bigger production the film has
the only Highlight of the U.S. version is Bela Lugosi that's all, cause the production was tight on money
lots of cut scenes.
the extra scenes in the spanish version that ties the script together makes more sense
than the U.S. version, but each to their own it's a matter of opinion.

fast fwd to this week i got the Blu-ray release which has both versions on 1 Disc
and i was amazed big time at How Good the picture and audio quality is for a 1931 film
because the film is that old, i had Doubts that Digitally restoring this film in HD would be impossible
but from a fans view i am very surprised
much better quality than the 2006 75th anniversary release
the Audio is in mono but has been enhanced big time to sound close to stereo,
lots of background Hiss but that's to be expected from a very old film.
the picture quality is excellent for a HD restoration, about 8/10 quality
Universal really did make as much effort as they could to give this film a HD print

the spanish version has been given the same HD print so the quality is Just as Good as the U.S. version
in my opinion.

both films are in Fullscreen of course with optional English subtitles
all the special features/extras from the 75th Anniversary edition are on this Blu-ray
the Road to Dracula Documentary
Dracula-Blu-ray restoration featurette which is about how Universal restore Dptmnt
actually restored the picture and audio in HD print
Lugosi the Dark prince featurette,
Monster tracks which are pop up facts that can be read while watching the film, but optional
there's an option selection on the Menu
Both commentaries from the 75th Anniversary edition are on this blu-ray aswell
there is even a different score to listen to for the film if you want
but i prefer Swan Lake score.

Universal U.K. have also released this film on blu-ray i've seen it on amazon uk
but as far as i know the spanish version is not on the U.K. blu-ray
and is only available on this U.S. blu-ray
so for any big fan of this film,
this U.S. Blu-ray release of 1931 version is definitely worth getting no doubt about it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I never drink... wine, February 1, 2014
This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Bram Stoker's vampire novel has been remade dozens of times, but perhaps the best adaptation is the classic Bela Lugosi version. Fairly faithful to the novel and dripping with gothic atmosphere, what really makes "Dracula" stand out is the bone-chillingly charming performance by Lugosi.

A solicitor, Renfield (Dwight Frye), is travelling to Count Dracula's castle for a real estate deal, despite the locals freaking out and crossing themselves whenever Dracula's mentioned. He soon finds out why -- the Count (Lugosi) is a vampire, who enslaves a mad Renfield to his will. Soon after, a ship with a dead crew (and Renfield and Dracula in the hold) arrives in England.

Soon Dracula has moved into his new home, Carfax Abbey, and is insinuating himself with the Seward family -- and especially with pretty Lucy Westenra, who dies of blood loss and is reborn as a vampire. Only the intervention of the mysterious Dr. Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) can stop Dracula's attacks in London.

Then there's the Spanish-language one, which is virtually identical and was filmed on the exact same sets, during the hours when the English-language one was not being shot. Same settings, same marks, same cinematography, many of the same scenes -- although it's much longer. It's excellent, and although it lacks that iconic intensity that Lugosi brought the English-language film, it's full of atmosphere and good acting.

Technically "Dracula" wasn't the first adaptation of "Dracula" -- that honor belongs to "Nosferatu" -- but it was the first to actually tackle the storyline in Stoker's book. And to date, it's perhaps the only to portray everyone's favorite vampire with the necessary atmosphere -- ominous, dignified and creepy.

Tod Browning sets it in all the necssary places -- crumbling castles, savage mountainous villages, foggy London streets, and sumptuous Victorian drawing rooms with eerie noises from outside. Granted, a fair amount of stuff is changed -- Jonathan Harker is partially replaced by the mad Renfield -- but none of these really detract from the storyline.

And Browning pours the creepiness on thickly, such as Dracula's seduction of young women, which keeps up the whole idea of vampiric sexuality. But Browning also knows how to pour on the subtle horror, without blood or violence -- like any scene with Renfield.

The script is just as great as the direction, with some unspeakably good dialogue ("For one who has not lived even a single lifetime, you're a wise man, Van Helsing"), usually from Dracula. But the best scenes and dialogue are made up of highlights from the novel (such as Dracula saying dreamily, "Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!").

But the star of all this is Lugosi himself, one of the two quintessential vampire actors (the other being Christopher Lee). While he doesn't resemble the book's Dracula, his hypnotic stare and charming, intense manner make him an ideal vampire count. And Frye deserves a nod for one of the nastiest, maddest, creepinest performances in cinema history. Sort of a nuttier, bug-eating Gollum ("Not when I can get nice fat spiders!").

The original "Dracula" is still the best, more than seventy years after it was made. Dripping with Gothic atmosphere and seductive charm, this is a magnificent piece of work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Definitive Dracula!", October 7, 2013
Gregorypwilson (Syracuse, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Bela Lugosi, Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan star in this 1931 horror classic
based on Bram Stoker's novel. A seductive vampire travels to London to feed
on some of it's residents. Lugosi will always be the definitive version of Dracula
in my opinion and he didn't even need fangs because his looks and movements
were creepy enough. This Blu-ray has good picture and sound, neat extras and
includes the Spanish version. I recommend this horror classic for your collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bela goes bluray, February 1, 2014
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This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
To me this is the one and only Dracula movie. Bela is just so perfect for the role, as is Dwight Frye for his role.True classic.Excellent Bluray version.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT, February 22, 2014
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This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
A great Universal Monster Classic, now shown in crystal clear Blu-ray quality. A must have for collectors of these classic monster films.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Blu Ray Bela Lugosi Dracula is a must have!, February 21, 2014
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This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This version of the Dracula classic is beautiful looking! Remastered the right way, it looks great in 1080p. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono which sounds amazing!

Special features like commentaries with film Historian David Skal and Steve Haberman, the alternate score by Philip Glass, Lugosi: The Dark Prince, Dracula: The Restoration, The Road to Dracula, and the Spanish version this Blu Ray is a MUST have for all fans of the Dracula Bela Lugosi classic!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-Ray Dracula (1931) Excellent upgrade over previous video formats, November 7, 2013
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This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This rating is for the Blu-Ray Dracula (1931). Universal has done an astounding job in it's restoration, it looks better than I've see it over the last 45 years I've watched it on TV broadcasts and various video formats. By the 2nd scene my wife exclaimed "Wow, this is a really good print". That is a pretty good endorsement considering it's age and condition. The sound has been cleaned up some too, there is still some hiss, but it's been reduced and dialogue is easy to follow now. If you're nostalgic for your memories of heavy hiss and a warbling of the music piece from Swan Lake at the beginning, keep your previous video format, but if you want a superior picture with better black levels, details, stability and better sound, then pick this up.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dracula 1931 Blu ray, September 21, 2013
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This review is from: Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I started collecting Universal's 1930's horror films when they were first made available on DVD. Of all the films, Dracula looked the worst and when they started releasing these titles on Blu ray I decided that Dracula would be the one film that I would upgrade. I will say that Universal did an excellent job on restoring this film. Scratches, blotches and other artifacts of age have been removed and while I won't go as far as to say the film looks like it was made yesterday it doesn't look like a film made over 80 years ago. About the only time it looked better is when it was first shown on screens in 1931. All of the extras in the original DVD, and then some, are included here. If you are looking to upgrade, or buy the film for the first time, you can purchase with confidence.
Why not give it 5 stars? The restoration deserves that but the film itself shows its stage play origins, especially when it leaves the castle, and can be dull for modern audiences. But that's a small nit to pick.
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Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray]
Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray] by Tod Browning (Blu-ray - 2013)
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