26 October 2012


"I am Dracula"—Bela Lugosi in Dracula 

Give me vampires over zombies or werewolves any day. I quite enjoy a good vampire film or novel, especially when Dracula makes an appearance. And of all the actors who have portrayed the notorious Count, Bela Lugosi still remains my favourite. Not so long ago I saw the film Dracula (1931) for the first time in years and yes, it's not a great film. It's a bit stagy, a bit wooden, and has a terrible ending but there's Lugosi who makes up for any weaknesses in the film.

The Hungarian-born Lugosi first played Dracula on stage in a 1927 Broadway production along with Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing. Both would later star in the Universal film. Although he longed to play different roles, Dracula typecast Lugosi and he was relegated to mostly B-horror movies, even reprising the role of Dracula in Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), by which time an addiction to morphine (taken to help his sciatica) had started to take its toll. He ended up staring in a couple of Ed Wood's films before dying in 1956. He was buried wearing one of Dracula's capes.

As much as Dracula may have become a curse for him there's no denying that Lugosi helped shape how we perceive Dracula. The dark, slicked-back hair, the piercing eyes, the accent, the aristocratic charm are all elements of the Dracula that is in our collective psyche—he is the Dracula against whom all other Draculas are measured. So if you haven't seen Dracula in a while, check it out this Halloween season. It's currently streaming on Netflix along with The Mummy (1932) and The Wolf Man (1941) so why not have a mini classic horror movie marathon this weekend?

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