Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62 Films perfect for watching on a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Today’s double-shot includes Tod Browning‘s immortal 1931 classic, Dracula, and Tomas Alfredson‘s 2008 film, Let the Right One In.
Directed by Tod Browning (Freaks), 1931’s Dracula was an adaptation of Bram Stoker‘s classic novel and defined the iconic look of the vampire forever, due in large part to Bela Lugosi‘s indelible portrayal of the immortal Count Dracula. Renfield (Dwight Frye), a solicitor, travels to Castle Dracula in the Eastern European country of Transylvania to conclude a real estate transaction with a nobleman named Count Dracula (Lugosi).
The journey to the castle is harrowing, and Renfield’s carriage is nearly attacked by monstrous, howling wolves along the way. Upon arriving at the crumbling old castle, Renfield finds that the Dracula is a sophisticated and hospitable gentleman. After only a few days, however, Harker realizes that he has become the Count’s prisoner. He soon realizes that the Count possesses supernatural powers and fiendish ambitions.
That Creepy Scene:
My favorite part of Browning’s Dracula comes when Renfield is nearly attacked by Dracula’s wives, three beautiful and seductive female vampires. Renfield stumbles upon their rest place: a dark, dank chamber covered in cobwebs that houses three coffins. Slowly, the brides awaken and arise from their tombs.
Dressed in all white, they creepy forward with purpose, stepping in rhythm, advancing upon Renfield. This is truly one of the most classic, eerie shots in not just Dracula, but the entire Universal Monsters universe. Dracula appears to seemingly ‘rescue’ Renfield and for the first time, we see Lugosi staring directly into the camera – an iconic moment that remains one of the most powerful images of horror.
Dracula is filmed in classic German Expressionist style by cinematographer Karl Freund. From the opening shots in the foothills of the Carpathians to the silhouette of Dracula’s castle, illuminated by lightning strikes, Fruend’s photography establishes a Gothic eeriness and palpable darkness that leaves the viewer uneasy and inexplicably cold.
Lugosi’s performance and chilling delivery of such unforgettable lines as “Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make!” and “For one who has not lived even a single lifetime, you are a wise man, Van Helsing” have come to define what we consider as the stereotypical vampire. When you think of vampires, your brain immediately jumps to Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Count Dracula – from his sophisticated style of dress to the thick, Hungarian accent.
Also memorable are Dwight Frye as the deranged Renfield and Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing who, was a staple of Universal Studio’s horror pictures, starring in Frankenstein, The Mummy, and Dracula’s Daughter as well. With exception to Hammer Horror’s Peter Cushing, Van Sloan remains the best Van Helsing on screen – delivering his dialogue in a slow, exaggerated style, rolling his Rs for added emphasis.
Browning’s 1931 Dracula has no doubt made the most lasting impression of all versions of Bram Stoker’s classic work. While others came before it, including 1921’s Dracula’s Death and F.W. Murnau‘s 1922 classic, Nosferatu, Dracula remains the best, most iconic vampire tale
committed to celluloid.
Looking for another bloodsucking vampire story? Check out director Tomas Alfredson‘s 2008 film, Let the Right One In. In this Swedish film, adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s bestselling novel, director Alfredson masterfully weaves a story of falling in love that is both horrifying and tender.
12-year-old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a victim of relentless bullying. When we’re first introduced to young Oskar, he is alone in his bedroom, dressed only in his underwear. Immediately the insecurities that rule Oskar’s everyday life shine through his porcelain skin. The innocence and vulnerability of Hedebrant’s performance is a tour-de-force, completely authentic and believable in every matter of speaking.
Lina Leandersson plays Eli, a 12-year-old girl who moves into Oskar’s housing complex outside Stockholm. The two meet one snowy afternoon at a jungle gym in the complex’s courtyard. Eli is a sad, lonely creature who Oskar immediately latches on to as his one and only friend. After an initial period of awkward timidity, a tender affection is formed between the two.
Oskar realizes that she is a vampire responsible for the recent rash of deaths around town. Despite the danger, however, Oskar’s friendship with the girl ultimately takes precedence over his fear of her. It’s worth mentioning that Let the Right One In was remade by American director Matt Reeves in 2010 as Let Me In, a fantastic film in its own right that’s totally worth watching!
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