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Dracula: The Legacy Collection [Import USA Zone 1]
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L'agente immobiliare Renfield arriva in Transilvania nel castello del conte Dracula, che lo vampirizza riducendolo in sua schiavitu. Insieme con lui il conte viaggia in una bara alla volta dell'Inghilterra. Dopo aver ucciso molte persone, Dracula e eliminato da un esperto di vampiri, che gli trafigge il cuore con un paletto di legno. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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I waited a long time to watch the Spanish version of the Dracula, and it lived up to its reputation. A much more complete and compelling version of the film, aided by an additional half hour running time, this movie equals or excels the English language version of the film in all ways - except, of course, for the performance of Bela Lugosi, who simply is Count Dracula. As for the Lugosi version, I'm torn between the two scores. As a traditionalist, I tend to favor the original score, but certain scenes, particularly those involving Dracula's predatory approach to his victims are made much more powerful with the addition of the Glass score. Either way, though, Bela Lugosi is the main attraction, and his iconic performance defines Count Dracula to this very day.
The three Dracula sequels vary in quality, none of them living up to the reputation of the original. Dracula's Daughter takes the story in an interesting direction, giving us a vampire who seeks help in freeing herself of the Dracula curse, and Gloria Holden gives a formidable and nuanced performance as the daughter of the Count. Son of Dracula, on the other hand, pretty much lays an egg in my opinion. The only interesting thing about this movie is the debate over the true identity of the Count - is he Dracula? the son of Dracula? a relative of Dracula? In the end, it really doesn't matter, but it seems obvious that the blood of Bela Lugosi's Count Dracula certainly doesn't run in the veins of "Count Alucard" because this new bloodsucker on the block isn't the smartest vampire in the castle. Many Dracula fans will of course be aware of the fact that Lon Chaney, Sr., was the original choice to play Dracula in the 1931 film; his death opened the way for the relatively unknown Bela Lugosi to take on the role he had already played hundreds of time on stage. In Son of Dracula, Lon Chaney, Jr., gets the chance to don the cape; Chaney earned his spot of fame in the Universal monster pantheon, but he didn't earn it as the Count - his performance is nothing short of boring, aided not one iota by a surprisingly weak script from the hand of Curt Siodmak.
The addition of House of Dracula to The Dracula Legacy Collection is a very big deal, for this is the first time this film has found its way to DVD. House of Dracula is a really weird film, as this sequel of sorts to House of Frankenstein features not only Count Dracula, but Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man as well. John Carradine plays a quite pedestrian Count Dracula, while Lon Chaney, Jr., plays the Wolf Man; Frankenstein's monster is played by Glenn Strange, but the monster plays only the most minor of roles in the story. The action takes place in Vasaria (wherever that is), where Dr. Franz Edelman (Onslow Stevens) is pursuing his own rather wacky scientific experiments, placing great hope on some new kind of spore he is growing in his private little hothouse. Both Count Dracula and Larry Talbot (the Wolf Man) come seeking his help; Talbot's wish to banish the Wolf Man manifestation from his life is understandable, but Dracula's reasons for seeking help are never made clear. In the course of trying to help these two special patients, Edelman runs into the body of Frankenstein's monster in a cave underneath his sanitarium (in a rather ho-hum fashion, no less). As you might expect, this association with three monsters turns out to be a bad thing, leaving Edelman in a pretty bad fix himself. It's somewhat difficult to take this movie seriously, but it does provide some wacky good fun in a campy sort of way.
There is a slight risk involved with purchasing The Dracula Legacy Collection, but the rewards are worth the risk. Just be careful opening the case - even if both of the DVDs (one of which is double-sided) remain in position, you are likely to find a little knob underneath each one just dying for the chance to scratch a disc.
You get the 1931 original appearance of a cinematic DRACULA! With two soundtrack options - listen to it in its original almost silent version, or chose the revamped Phillip Glass soundtrack version. Todd Browning who directed this classic was foremost a silent film maker, and DRACULA was designed to be shown in theatres with and without sound. So its almost creepier and more effective to see it with its long spooky silences intact. But Glass is a great musician, and I appreciate his soundtrack as well. It really depends on mood. And for fun check out the SPAINISH version which used the same sets. Beautifully shot, and considered by some technically superior to Browning's film! It uses more camera moves and visual effects.
The other films are a string of B sequels that are still a lot of fun. Gloria Holden as DRACULA'S DAUGHTER is surprisingly creepy and troublingly lesbian in tone. She only attacks women! SON OF DRACULA is campy fun with Lon Chaney Jr. sailing through smokey swamps. HOUSE OF DRACULA is the ultimate monster mash with Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and Dracula making appearances in this last sequel to the Universal monster franchise before they all appeared in an Abbot and Costello movie that killed them for a while.
But they live on! My only beef with the extras is one where Stephen Sommers talks about how DRACULA influenced VAN HELSING. I don't want to tie my 1931 version of a classic to this year's Summer Hit. But in a way it proves ...
legends never die.
The best reason for buying this set is the second disc. It's a double sided disc that contains the Spanish version of Dracula, Dracula's Daughter, Son Of Dracula and House Of Dracula. It's great to be able to own all four of these classic films on one disc, and the transfers are more than acceptable for films of their age.
Other reviewers of these Legacy sets have commented on problems with the packaging and I echo those concerns. I found it very difficult to remove the second disc from the packaging. The problem is definitely with the disc as I put the first disc in that side of the case and it was easy to remove. I found it easier to put the second disc in a seperate DVD case rather than return it to its original packaging as I would rather not risk cracking the disc by continually trying to force it out of its place in the snapper case.
"Dracula" staring Bela Legosi is the key film in this collection. Legosi's Dracula became the model which most of the film adaptations since have used. Being made during a period where sound in films was new, results in a very quiet movie, which in some places adds to its eeriness. The direction, by Tod Browning, is fairly bland, and there are some truly odd moments, such as the shot of armadillos in Dracula's castle in Transylvania. Nevertheless, this is a key film from an historical standpoint, and it should not be missed, and its premier on February 12th, 1931 in New York City marked the arrival of the Universal Horror movies.
"Dracula" (a.k.a. Spanish Dracula in the U.S.) was filmed at the same time as the Bela Legosi movie. Sound was new in movies, and the studio thought that people would respond better to a movie shot in their own language as opposed to the use of dubbing. This movie used the same sets as the other movie, filming at night where the other cast filmed during the day. They also used some long shots cut from the English version, because their budget was significantly smaller. This movie was made for about $66,000 where the English version cost $355,000. The direction by George Melford is superior to that of Tod Browning, and in many ways this is the superior version of the movie. This movie premiered on March 20th, 1931 in Madrid.
"Dracula's Daughter" (a.k.a. Daughter of Dracula) picks up at almost the exact moment where the first movie ends. The police arrest Van Helsing (played in both movies by Edward Van Sloan) for killing Dracula. Countess Marya Zeleska (Gloria Holden), who is Dracula's Daughter, steals Dracula's body and destroys it, hoping that she will be free from the curse. When it does not work, she decides she wants Dr. Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger) to return with her to Transylvania. When he refuses, she kidnaps Janet Blake (Marguerite Churchill) and returns to Transylvania knowing that Dr. Garth will follow and try to rescue her. This film is supposedly based on a Bram Stoker short story titled "Dracula's Guest". I don't know if that is true, but the chase back to Transylvania is reminiscent of the end of the novel "Dracula". The logic of the plot of this movie was rather poor, as the viewer can only wonder as to why the Countess didn't simply hypnotize Dr. Garth the way she did so many others, and then compel him to return with her. This movie was released on May 11th, 1936.
"Son of Dracula" features Lon Chaney Jr., as Count Alucard (Dracula backwards) who comes to the United States feeling that it has new blood which will help energize him. The plot has a few twists in it, and the viewer learns through events about things which must have taken place before the events in the movie. The traditional roles are filled here with Katherine `Kay' Caldwell (Louise Allbritton) being Dracula's interest, Frank Stanley (Robert Paige) as Kay's boyfriend, Professor Harry Brewster (Frank Craven) the traditional man of science, and Professor Laszlo (J. Edward Bromberg) being the Van Helsing type. This film premiered on November 5th, 1943.
"House of Dracula" (a.k.a. The Wolf Man's Cure) is the most bizarre film of this collection. It opens with Dracula (John Carradine), apparently no longer destroyed, visiting Dr. Edelman (Onslow Stevens), apparently interested in a cure for his curse. Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.), who is the Wolf Man, shows up the next night, also in search of a cure. Events result in the discovery of Frankenstein's Monster (Glenn Strange), and later in a Jekyll and Hyde situation. Throw in the beautiful hunchback Nina (Jane Adams), and Miliza Morrelle (Martha O'Driscoll) who is the love interest for both Dracula and the Wolf Man, and don't forget some angry villagers, and you have a very strange mix. This was the sequel to "House of Frankenstein" (a.k.a. Dracula's Doom) which came out the year before. For some reason, this movie was nominated for a retro Hugo for Dramatic Presentation for the year 1945. This is a fun movie to watch, but hardly a great film. It premiered on December 7th, 1945.
This is a good collection of movies for those who like the early Universal films, but I do wonder about the overall quality of the DVDs, because of the problems I had with the dual-sided second DVD. I thought it was also rather sparse in terms of documentation for the films themselves. There is no booklet, just a single sheet which has a very short description of the movies and is really more of an advertisement for the other sets in the collection and the Van Helsing movie. The movies themselves vary quite a bit in terms of picture quality and sound. I would say it is a good collection, but they could have done much more with it.
So finally, we get this film on DVD along with all the rest of the 1930's and 1940s Universal Dracula films including the Spanish version of Dracula in this nice Legacy collection. Actually in 1999, the restored uncensored Bela Lugosi version was released on DVD. With this Legacy collection, however, you do NOT get the restored uncensored version. So if you can find an out of print copy of the 1999 release, buy it because this new Legacy collection only has the original 1931 censored release. The uncensored version features Renfield screaming when Dracula chokes him at the end, as well as many more "death groans" from Dracula when Van Helsing drives the steak through his heart. This set does not have those features, so beware.
Aside from this flaw, this Legacy Collection is fantastic. And it's the first time "House of Dracula" (sequel to "House of Frankenstein") has been released to DVD. All the films have been digitally restored (although "Dracula" doesn't look as good as the rest because it's an older film). This set also features an optional new musical score by Phillip Glass for "Dracula" (1931), which was also on the 1999 release. In my personal opinion, however, the score takes away from the eerie feel of the film. I always thought the silence of the original made it more creepy. This new score has music running all the way through the film, and I feel it's too intense. Remember, silence is golden.
So if you're a fan of horror and Dracula, purchase this set. But make sure to find the 1999 restored uncensored release of "Dracula" and buy it as well since it's not available on this set.