Now, now …..don’t get all upset with me …I am here to honor and celebrate the (almost) first and foremost DRACULA ……Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasco, born October 20, 1882 in Hungary. Yet, I do feel its important to acknowledge that he (nor anyone else) can fit that perfect Dracula in my head….I think that’s why authors and filmmakers can’t leave the topic alone. Dracula is in the mind, a perfect combination of frightening, romantic, comical ….and so far….no one has gotten him just exactly perfectly right. Not even Bela.
The role of a lifetime, first on Broadway …..at the pinnacle of an actor’s career…..the right age, just the exact amount of experience with film, with staging ..and the voice…..
Dracula (1931 Dir:Tod Browning) — Along with all the elements mentioned above, the final touch to make THE perfect horror – romance film …the director Tod Browning; which like building anything correctly must include a solid foundation and this director was the right base for this film. There is a stunted almost deliberate thinking that goes on in every scene, movement and line of dialogue….it penetrates off the film into the viewer ….a rigid sense that something is not right here, but I don’t want to be rude and point it out…..even when, of course, you know a murderer is among you ….that feeling of being swept away, of craving it to happen…..the tension is beautifully performed.
Island of Lost Souls (1932 dir: Erle C. Kenton) — A creepy creepy film so wonderfully performed by Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi and of course Kathleen Burke…..this is one of those sort of silly, almost too cute but eeewwww films that you have to watch a few times ….you can’t just watch it and wonder, did that just happen? Haha!
White Zombie (1932 dir: Victor Halpern) — This is an odd one for me, I kept feeling like I was waiting for something to happen and then when the film was over, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Its fun and creepy but also sort of choppy …leaves you wondering what they didn’t say or show.
Son of Frankenstein (1939 dir: Rowland V. Lee) — I can’t stress enough how important I feel it is to watch all of Bela Lugosi’s films ..not only for the fun of the films but the history and technique of carrying a career in film; for the incredible directors he worked with, the variety of other actors from the intensity of Basil Rathbone to the comic genius of Abbott & Costello …Bela took his job seriously but never himself….he was an actor who acted. Some might think of the ‘other’ Frankenstein films as throwaways, but each of the three first films is important in its own right. This one is definately a must watch for film mavens and students.