Not by any means the masterpiece of fond memory or reputation, although the first twenty minutes are astonishingly fluid and brilliantly shot by Karl Freund, despite the intrusive painted backdrops. Innumerable imaginative touches here: the sinister emphasis of Lugosi's first words ('I...am...Dracula') and the sonorous poetry of his invocation to the children of the night; the moment when Dracula leads the way up his castle stairway behind a vast cobweb through which Renfield has to struggle as he follows; the vampire women, driven off by Dracula, reluctantly backing away from the camera while it continues hungrily tracking in to Renfield's fallen body. Thereafter the pace falters, and with the London scenes growing in verbosity and staginess, the hammy limitations of Lugosi's performance are cruelly exposed. But the brilliant moments continue (Renfield's frenzy in his cell, for instance), and Freund's camerawork rarely falters.
Cast and crew
Garrett Fort, Dudley Murphy
David Manners Edward Van Sloan Helen Chandler Herbert Bunston Bela Lugosi Dwight Frye