Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5  
Dracula DVD (1931)

Considered by many to be the definitive Dracula, Bela Lugosi plays the count in this 1931 Universal Pictures classic movie, which comes to DVD with plenty of exciting new features.

TECHNICAL FEATURES

Picture As you'd expect from such an old film, the picture quality is quite variable, with print damage an issue. The transfer is good, though, with the overall effect deliciously eerie.

Sound Included on this DVD is a new Philip Glass music score presented in 5.1, with the dialogue and effects taking up the centre channel. It's a somewhat morbid score, but it does provide incidental music, and helps blend in the original primitive recording. Purists, though, will be more than happy with the 1931 recording, which is clear for dialogue although it does suffer from some occasional hiss (which is only to be expected).

SPECIAL FEATURES

Audio Commentary Film historian David J Skal is our guide for a fact-packed commentary. His pace is perhaps a little fast, but there's a lot to be gleaned from him in terms of the tricks used to create giant sets, and the variations between the book, this film, and the Spanish version of the movie that was made at the same time. One of the noticeable features of this 30s film is the use of tracking and crane shots. Skal talks us through these, but also reveals that these were very much down to cinematographer Karl Freund, who was actually forced to rein in such movement by director Tod Browning, who preferred the then more traditional static shot.

The Road to Dracula Carla Laemmle, daughter of Carl Laemmle, who founded Universal Studios back in 1915, hosts this 35-minute documentary. Her father had planned "Dracula" as a potential silent movie, but he had misgivings about horror films, and it wasn't until 1931 that it was produced as a talkie.

It was to have been a big budget film, but with the stockmarket crash, the production had to be reined-in and ended up following the structure of the stage play, as opposed to Bram Stoker's novel. Contributors to the documentary include Clive Barker, make-up guru Rick Baker, and historian David Skal.

Additional Extra Features Also on the disc is an animated image gallery, and a trailer.

Region: 2
Chapters: 18
Ratio: 1.33:1 (original fullscreen)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Technical Features: Scene selection, and multiple language subtitles.

This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.

End Credits

Director: Tod Browning

Writer: Garrett Fort, Dudley Murphy

Stars: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Herbert Bunston, Frances Dade

Genre: Classic, Horror

Length: 70 minutes

Cinema: 1931

DVD: 14 October 2002

Country: USA