IN MY IGNORANCE I completely dismissed this movie when I first saw it available as an extra on my DVD.
Basically because I decided to have my snob hat on and thought to myself, “What is the point of watching a movie that is a ‘carbon copy’ of the original?”
It was only when I started to pay more attention that I realised that this movie deserves a lot more recognition.
During the early days of sound in film, Hollywood studios would often film foreign language versions of the movie using the the same sets and costumes as the original version.
In this instance, the Spanish speaking cast and crew would film in the evenings once the English version had wrapped for the day.
But here’s the interesting part.
The crew was allowed to see the daily rushes from the English crew and therefore were able to learn and in some cases improve on the original, purely because they were free to experiment and try new ways to shoot the script.
In some cases, critics have praised the movie and proclaimed that technically speaking, it’s a far superior film.
There are some obvious differences that stand both movies apart.
While some of the shots are bold and adventurous for the time, particularly that of Dracula’s first appearance, coming out from behind a coffin surrounded by smoke simply adds to the mystery of his character.
In some cases though it does feel that some of the shots used are there just for the sake of being different and don’t add to the story.
Unfortunately, it does feel that Carlos Villarías (Dracula) and Eduardo Arozamena (Van Helsing) are lesser than there English counterparts.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to top Lugosi’s signature turn at the titular character.
But Pablo Alvarez Rubio cuts a fine turn as Renfield and gives Dwight Frye a run for his money.
Choosing a more hysterical performance, his descent into madness is a joy to watch.
Likewise is Lupita Tovar, who could rival the likes of Hollywood’s greatest with her grace, beauty, and intelligence.
She steals most of the scenes that she is in and makes the desperation of her male co-stars to save her soul all the more plausible.
A must-see for fans of the genre.
- Paul Farrell