TCM Presents: Dracula Double Feature at select locations. I went to one of those select locations this afternoon and enjoyed this double feature. 1931 movies were made so long ago with such limited technology, but so darn good! Movies made before my parents were born seem so old!
The main thing that rang loudly in my head was the lack of sound effects and blasting music to announce or emphasize every tiny action, reaction or emotion already being visually displayed on the screen. On one hand, it was kind of lame not hearing the creaking hinges on Dracula's coffin as he rose in the evening determined to make someone his victim or his step scraping the dusty steps as he climbed the castle stairs. On the other hand, the silence added to the eerie feel and suspense. There wasn't any surround sound assault to tell me what to feel or expect.
There was some unexpected cheesiness to make me giggle, for example, when Dracula was making someone his slave by using his telekinetic powers to have someone do his bidding, they just used the same clip of Lugosi with his intent stare for every scene. The fake bats bobbing at the end of fishing line (or whatever they used) outside the windows was low budget, but also made me realize that this same effect was used almost 40 years later on Dark Shadows when Barnabus Collins would be stalking Victoria Winters. You'd think they could have made some improvements in 40 years, but then Dark Shadows was working on a shoestring budget and had to keep costs down.
There was a ten minute intermission before the second feature started, which was the Spanish version filmed using the same sets but a different cast and crew. The Spanish version was almost identical with a little more sex appeal thrown in. I liked the end scene of the Spanish version better as John and Mina (Eva in the Spanish version) ascended the stairs on their way out of Dracula's lair. It had more of an atmosphere of closure than the English version somehow. Must have been the camera angle from the top of the stairs rather than the English angle with the camera down in the lair.
The Dracula Double Feature is showing again on Wednesday if you'd like to catch it.