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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Tod Browning
USA 1931

 

When Universal Pictures picked up the movie rights to a Broadway adaptation of Dracula, they felt secure in handing the property over to the sinister team of actor Lon Chaney and director Tod Browning. But Chaney died of cancer, and Universal hired the Hungarian who had scored a success in the stage play: Béla Lugosi. The resulting film launched both Lugosi's baroque career and the horror-movie cycle of the 1930s. It gets off to an atmospheric start, as we meet Count Dracula in his shadowy castle in Transylvania, superbly captured by the great cinematographer Karl Freund. Eventually Dracula and his blood-sucking devotee (Dwight Frye, in one of the cinema's truly mad performances) meet their match in a vampire-hunter called Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan). If the later sections of the film are undeniably stage bound and a tad creaky, Dracula nevertheless casts a spell, thanks to Lugosi's creepily lugubrious manner and the eerie silences of Browning's directing style. (After a mood-enhancing snippet of Swan Lake under the opening titles, there is no music in the film.) Frankenstein, which was released a few months later, confirmed the horror craze, and Universal has been making money (and countless spin-off projects) from its twin titans of terror ever since. Certainly the role left a lasting impression on the increasingly addled and drug-addicted Lugosi, who was never quite able to distance himself from the part that made him a star. He was buried, at his request, in his black vampire cape.

***

 

It is the most famous and best remembered of all Bram Stoker adaptations, and yet the 1931 “Dracula” is also the film that ventures furthest from its source material. The film has been criticized over the years for straying so far from Stoker’s classic novel (it instead depends mostly on the popular stage play of the 1920s), and yet these critics ignore the simple fact that on its own, the movie works. Oh, it more than works: it became a milestone, one of the most important movies in film history, kicking off an entire era of screen horror, leaving us with images that are forever burned in the pop culture subconscious.


Consider that in 1931, there were no supernatural horror movies being made. All thrillers at the time were given cheap finales to explain away the mystery. Not so “Dracula,” which stated quite boldly that the title character is indeed a blood-sucking, undying, mist-and-bat-turning-into, creature-of-the-night vampire. Audiences, of course, loved it, and quickly Universal worked overtime to follow their smash hit with a string of genre films that would later be hailed as a golden age, the era of the Universal Monsters. (And, let’s not forget, other studios were falling over themselves trying to duplicate Universal’s success.)

Excerpt from EFilmCritic David Cornelius located HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 12th, 1931

Reviews                              More Reviews                           DVD Reviews

 Comparison: 

Universal - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Universal (2-disc Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

Released individually on September 2nd, 2014:

or as Part of the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection showcases 8 of the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature From the Black Lagoon.

    

Alos available individually

Distribution

Universal

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal (2-disc Legacy Series)

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:14:15 1:14:42 1:14:26.462

Video

Full Frame
Average Bitrate: 5.1 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Full Frame
Average Bitrate: 8.8 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,575,398,213 bytes

Feature: 17,674,383,360 bytes

Spanish Feature 22,057,826,304 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.96 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate : Universal

Bitrate: Universal (Legacy Series)

Bitrate: Universal Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

Optional Philip Glass Score in 5.0

Spanish Version: DUB: Spanish (mono), English (mono), French (mono)

English (mono)

Optional Philip Glass Score in 5.0

Spanish Version: DUB: English (mono), Spanish (mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1764 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1764 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

Subtitles English, French, None English, French, Spanish, None English, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Universal

Aspect Ratio:
Full Frame

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Film Historian David J. Skal

• Featurette: The Road to Dracula
• Spanish version with 4:00 intro by Lupita Tovar Kohner (1:43:04)

• Score by Philip Glass - performed by the Kronos Quartet

DVD Release Date: December 21st, 1999
Keep case

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Universal (Legacy Series)
 

Aspect Ratio:
Full Frame

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Film Historian David J. Skal

• Commentary by Steve Haberman - screenwriter of Dracula: Dead and Loving It
• Featurette: Lugosi: The Dark Prince (36:04)

• DVD Subtitle Feature option called Monster Tracks

• Featurette: The Road to Dracula (34:58)

• Score by Philip Glass - performed by the Kronos Quartet

 

Disc 2
Spanish version with 4:00 intro by Lupita Tovar Kohner (1:43:04)
• 
Featurette: Universal Horror
• Poster Montage

 

DVD Release Date: September 26th, 2006
Bookcase - dual thick keepcase style

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Universal
 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,575,398,213 bytes

Feature: 17,674,383,360 bytes

Spanish Feature 22,057,826,304 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.96 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Film Historian David J. Skal

• Commentary by Steve Haberman - screenwriter of Dracula: Dead and Loving It
• Featurette: Lugosi: The Dark Prince (36:07)

• Subtitle Feature option called Monster Tracks

• Featurette: The Road to Dracula (35:04)

• Score by Philip Glass - performed by the Kronos Quartet

Dracula: the Restoration (8:46)

Dracula: the Archives (9:11) - same as poster montage
 

Spanish version in 1080P with 4:00 intro by Lupita Tovar Kohner (1:43:16.190)

 

Blu-ray Release Date: October 2nd, 2012
Custom Blu-ray case

Chapters 18

 

Comments

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray (September 2012): This restoration looks marvelous. I wasn't anticipating such a significant jump over the previous SD editions. The 1080P has taken real strides forward with a cleaner, sharper, crisper image with significantly more layered contrast and wonderful thick grain. It is brighter with more information in the frame and the result is far more film-like visuals. Impressive indeed. The below screen captures support the vast improvement.

 

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1764 kbps also showcases a notable superiorty over the DVDs. The dialogue remains scattered due to the production limitations but it is still clearer with a sense of depth. Tchaikovsky Swan Lake plus the piece by Richard Wagner sounds solid never escalating beyond the normal for the film. There are optional subtitles on the region FREE Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras have most of the 2-disc Legacy DVD edition's content with the two commentaries - by Film Historian David J. Skal and the second by by Steve Haberman screenwriter of Dracula: Dead and Loving It. We get the featurettes: Lugosi: The Dark Prince (36:07) and The Road to Dracula (35:04) as well as the subtitle feature option called Monster Tracks, plus the score by Philip Glass - performed by the Kronos Quartet. Dracula: the Archives (9:11) is the same as the poster montage from the DVD but what is new is a 9-minute Dracula: the Restoration piece. The, longer, Spanish version is included in 1080P with 4:00 intro by Lupita Tovar Kohner.

 

We will cover as much of the Universal Classic Blu-ray Monsters Collection as we can but this is an amazing start. Certainly recommended! 

 

 

***

ON THE DVDs: Quite a striking difference in the two editions. Most obviously the new Legacy Series release is much brighter and has far less damage. Either it is sharper or it certainly gives the impression of being more detailed with its cleanliness and stronger luminance. Some faux-grain/noise, but a radical improvement over the original.  My only complaint -> framing - it appears the new edition has taken some liberties with zooming-in slightly in a few scenes (see example below). I suspect it was to maintain a consistency with the image improvement but it nonetheless is a no-no. Universal - we like to see it as it was framed - warts and all.

The newer release now has optional English - French - Spanish subtitles (where the original only had optional French). Both have the Glass score (sound amazing), Spanish version with intro, Skal commentary and Road to Dracula featurette. On top of that the new release adds a harder hitting commentary from Steve Haberman - 2 more featurettes (one on Lugosi - one on Universal's Horror film dominance). The Legacy DVD adds an optional info subtitle feature called "Monster Tracks" (see sample below) - I didn't re-watch (a third time in a row) but did sample them - it was okay but a either commentary seems far more fruitful.

Surprising Universal also updated the Spanish version - which was actually interlaced on the original release but looks to have gone through a similar process as the Lugosi version - brighter and cleaner. Bravo! 

NOTE: Robert Seletsky has indicated some drastic flaws in the 75th Anniversary Edition in his article on DVDBeaver located HERE!

Quote: "The “75th Anniversary Edition” Dracula is not a good replacement for previous editions of the Lugosi film. However, as some elements of the Spanish version are now more accurate, the reader may decide whether they compensate for the edition’s many other deficiencies. The 2004 “Legacy Collection” set (sold HERE), still very much in print (UPC 025192445521), is a better way to experience Lugosi’s Dracula on the whole; it comes with all the 1999 extras including the Spanish version (in its previous variant), as well as three Universal sequels, for the same price. The excellent 1999 single R1 disc containing English and Spanish Draculas and all the extras is long out of print, but third-party amazon.com sellers seem to offer it at very low prices."    

 - Gary Tooze


Menus

(Universal - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

 
 

 

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920 X 1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

Sample Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC - Monster Tracks Feature TOP vs. Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


Subtitle Sample: "Both versions have French and English subtitles; the 75th Anniversary edition also has Spanish"

 

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


 

SPANISH EDITION

 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal (Legacy Series) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 
Box Cover

Released individually on September 2nd, 2014:

or as Part of the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection showcases 8 of the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature From the Black Lagoon.

    

Alos available individually

Distribution

Universal

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal (2-disc Legacy Series)

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal

Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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