Dracula / Drácula [Version in Spanish] Blu-ray delivers stunning video and audio in this exceptional Blu-ray release
The legendary bloodsucker stakes his claim on a British estate in search of new blood.
For more about Dracula / Drácula [Version in Spanish] and the Dracula / Drácula [Version in Spanish] Blu-ray release, see Dracula / Drácula [Version in Spanish] Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Universal Studios | 1931 | 104 min | Rated G | Region A (B, C untested) | No Release Date
Spanish language version of the legendary vampire staking his claim on a British estate in search of new blood filmed in the same sets at night as Bela Lugosi's <i>Dracula</i> with a different cast and crew.
Take a moment and imagine what modern horror would be without Universal Pictures. Without founder Carl Laemmle and his
vision for the future of cinema, or his son Carl Laemmle Jr., who inherited the keys to the studio kingdom in 1928, when
talkies were rapidly displacing silent films and promising groundbreaking new strides in moviemaking and the movie-going
experience. Without early horror pioneers like Tod Browning, James Whales, Karl Freund, George Waggner or Jack Arnold.
Without iconic creature actors Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Claude Rains, Lon Chaney, Jr., Elsa Lanchester or Ben Chapman.
Without Dracula, the indispensable 1931 classic that left a more lasting mark on vampire movies and lore than any
other vampire film before or after (save Nosferatu). Or Frankenstein, which pushed boundaries, shocked
audiences and has been received with overwhelming enthusiasm ever since. The Mummy, bold in its atmosphere and
unforgettable in its tragic romance. The Invisible Man, which features some of the most astonishing special effects
and perhaps one of the most unnerving depictions of mounting madness of the era. The Bride of Frankenstein, a
complex, wickedly funny, altogether unpredictable sequel that in many regards surpasses its predecessor. The Wolf
Man, a once-chilling character drama that examines the frailty of man and the beast within. Phantom of the
Opera, though more a twisted love story than a traditional horror picture, a film that nevertheless caused some theaters
to stock smelling salts in in the event that a moviegoer fainted upon the removal of the Phantom's mask. Or Creature
from the Black Lagoon, which frightened audiences above the water and below with a scaly monster unlike any they had
seen before. Needless to say, modern horror, and really the genre in whole, would be completely different than what we
Which brings us to the first film in the Essentials Collection; the true essential that is producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. and
director Tod Browning's Dracula, starring horror icon Bela Lugosi as the titular Count, David Manners as the
unfortunate John Harker, Helen Chandler as his bewitched fiancée Mina, Dwight Frye as solicitor turned madman Renfield,
Edward Van Sloan as the steadfast Professor Van Helsing, and Frances Dade as poor Lucy Weston, one of Dracula's early
victims. Based on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name, the film is positively tame by today's standards -- or even the
standards of the 1930s horror films that followed -- and yet audiences were left gasping, trembling and, if one is to believe
the newspaper reports issued in the days following its initial release, fainting. While it's lost some of its luster and bite, or at
the very least its ability to frighten, it still stands as an arresting stepping stone in talkie cinema and the budding horror
genre. Even eighty-one-years later, there's a magnetism to Lugosi's stilted speech and wild eyes, a sweetness to Chandler's
torn, sidelong glances, a desperation to Manners' plight, a strength in Van Sloan's statesmanly delivery, and an unsettling
lunacy in Frye's jittery demeanor. It succumbs to its own grandiose, stage-play loftiness, no doubt. But it also oozes the sort
of passion, innovation and cultural sacrilege the best horror films of every age have embraced wholeheartedly.
Dracula features an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded
video transfer minted from a masterful restoration of the original nitrate film elements. There are minor issues -- inherent print
fluctuations, lingering scratches, tiny white flecks and specks, and the occasional faint vertical line (some brief, some extended)
-- but, considering the amount of effort, expertise and man-hours that went into cleaning up the source without sacrificing
detail, none of it is a deal breaker or even that much of a distraction. Otherwise, there aren't any problems to report. Contrast
is dialed in beautifully, black levels are rich and inky (yet aren't prone to crush or obscured shadow detail), the integrity of
midrange grays is intact, and grain is both filmic and refined. Edges are crisp and clean too, without any significant ringing or
halos to worry over, and textures have been preserved. Moreover, I didn't notice any artifacting, banding or aliasing, and there
weren't any signs of detrimental noise reduction, overzealous artificial sharpening or any other technique contrary to the
faithfulness of the restoration and subsequent presentation.
In some ways, the condition of the original audio elements posed an even greater challenge. Universal's two-channel DTS-HD
Master Audio Mono track is quite remarkable regardless, even though its shortcomings -- chief among them a noticeable noise
floor -- are a bit hard to ignore. Prior to the completion of the restoration, the original audio was hobbled by an even nastier
noise floor, one that amounted to a harsh hiss that took its toll on the clarity of the dialogue and effects. That clarity has been
restored and rejuvenated, dramatically so, despite the fact that the results aren't exactly ideal. That said, there's little, if
anything, the film preservationists working on the project could have done to improve the audio further, meaning theirs was a
legitimate case of tough, lesser of two evils decision making. To their credit, they chose wisely. Cinephiles and purists
will be more than willing to ignore the noise floor (as they should), especially when it's really the only price to pay for what is
easily the best the film has ever sounded.
Dracula: The Restoration (HD, 9 minutes): "The whole point of the process is to not let the viewer know
we were here." This look at the restoration of the movie from its original nitrate film and audio elements is an essential one.
Every catalog release -- every single one -- should merit a featurette of this sort, if only to demonstrate how
challenging restorations are handled. It needn't be long, just as informative and layman-friendly as this one.
Dracula (1931) Spanish Version (HD, 103 minutes): Lupita Tovar Kohner provides an introduction (SD, 4
minutes) to the Spanish version of the film, which features a different cast rather than a simple dub, and was shot
simultaneously with the English-language version.
Audio Commentaries: Two audio commentaries are included: a traditional production overview with film historian
David J. Skal, who reads from prepared notes, and author and Dracula: Dead and Loving It screenwriter Steve
Haberman, who also reads his entire commentary. Both are worth listening to, if only for the sheer value of the information
provided, but both are dry, wooden experiences more akin to book-on-tape film essays than engaging audio commentaries.
Alternate Score Track (HD, 74 minutes): Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet provide an alternate (and highly
effective) music track for the film, which is ironically more of what modern filmfans might expect from the largely scoreless
classic movie. Purists may balk, but it's a fun marriage of the new and the old; the only downside being that it's presented via
a 192kbps Dolby Digital stereo mix.
The Road to Dracula (SD, 35 minutes): Carla Laemmle (niece to Universal founder Carl Laemmle) hosts
this trip back in time and behind the scenes of Dracula, complete with interviews with film historians, modern
filmmakers, and other notable horror notables, as well as clips from a number of films it influenced.
Lugosi: The Dark Prince (SD, 36 minutes): An in-depth look at the life, career and vampiric contribution of Bela
Lugosi, the intense, magnetic actor who defined the horror star of the early 1930s.
Dracula Archives (SD, 9 minutes): Movie posters, campaign art, production stills and other images.
Trailer Gallery (SD, 6 minutes): Dracula, Dracula's Daughter, Son of Dracula and
House of Dracula.
Monster Tracks (HD): A standard trivia track rounds out the package.
Dracula, the first of Universal's Big Three Horror Icon pictures (the other two being Frankenstein and The
Wolf Man, kicks off the Universal Classic Monsters: Essential Collection in style. The film still delivers, its
meticulous restoration and faithful video transfer are the highlight of the disc, its DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix is almost as
impressive, and its supplemental package is light on tricks and heavy on treats. Dracula will no doubt earn a
standalone release sometime in the not-so-distant future, and this disc will stand strong, whether it's purchased as a part of
Universal's must-have Classic Monsters collection or on its own.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced and detailed the individual Blu-ray releases of four classic horror movies originally available as part of the Universal Classic Monsters Essentials Collection box set: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein ...
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