Universal Pictures: Dracula

Universal Studios produced several films in which Dracula (or a relative) appeared.

Universal Pictures’ Dracula Trilogy

Dracula (1931)

Dracula is a 1931 American pre-Code vampire-horror film starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. Produced by Universal, the screenplay is based on the 1924 stage play of the same name, which in turn is loosely based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

An estate agent, Renfield, travels to Transylvania to complete a real estate transaction with Count Dracula. Unbeknown to Renfield however – despite warnings of evil by some of the locals – Dracula is a vampire and the visitor is soon his unwilling servant. They travel by ship to England but by the time it makes port, an insane Renfield is the only living passenger. Count Dracula moves into Carfax Abbey and immediately sets out to possess the beautiful Mina, who lives next door. It’s left Professor Van Helsing – who knows exactly what Dracula is – to stop the spread of his evil. [IMDb*]

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Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

Dracula’s Daughter is an American vampire horror film produced by Universal Pictures as a sequel to the 1931 film Dracula. The film tells the story of Countess Marya Zaleska, the daughter of Count Dracula and herself a vampire. Following Dracula’s death, she believes that by destroying his body she will be free of his influence and live normally. When this fails, she turns to Dr Garth, a psychiatrist, who, in turn, has a fiance, Janet. The Countess kidnaps Janet and takes her to Transylvania, leading to a battle between Dr. Garth and the Countess in an attempt by him to save Janet.

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Son of Dracula (1943)

Son of Dracula is an American horror film starring Lon Chaney, Jr. Notably it is the first film where a vampire is actually shown physically transforming into a bat on screen. It is the third in Universal’s Dracula trilogy, preceded by Dracula and Dracula’s Daughter, though Dracula appeared in subsequent Universal films teamed with other monsters.

Count Alucard finds his way from Budapest to the swamps of the Deep South; his four nemeses are a medical doctor, a university professor, a jilted fiancé and the woman he loves. [IMDb*]

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Other Universal films depicting Dracula

The Count returned to life in three more Universal films of the mid-1940s: 1944’s House of Frankenstein, 1945’s House of Dracula and 1948’s comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Universal would only cast Lugosi as Dracula in one more film, the aforesaid Abbott and Costello vehicle, giving the role to John Carradine for the mid-1940s “monster rally” films, although Carradine admittedly more closely resembled Stoker’s physical description from the book.

House of Dracula (1945)

House of Dracula is an American monster crossover horror film released by Universal Pictures. It was a direct sequel to House of Frankenstein, and continued the theme of combining Universal’s three most popular monsters: Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange), Count Dracula (John Carradine), and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.). The film, which was the seventh Universal film to feature Frankenstein’s monster, as well as the fourth with Count Dracula and the Wolf Man, was a commercial success.

Dracula arrives at Dr. Edelman’s office asking for a cure to his vampirism. However, this is a ruse by Dracula to get near Dr. Edelman’s beautiful female assistant and turn her into a vampire. Meanwhile, a sincere Lawrence Talbot, AKA the Wolfman, arrives seeking a cure for his lycanthropy. When Dr. Edelman’s first attempt fails, Talbot tries to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff, but instead finds a network of underground caves where Frankensteins Monster is in stasis. Chaos ensues as the three monsters fight for dominance of each other. [IMDb*]

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Dracula (1979)

Dracula is a British-American horror film starring Frank Langella in the title role as well as Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasence and Kate Nelligan.

The film was based on Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, though much of Stoker’s original plot was revised to make the film—which was advertised with the tagline “A Love Story”—more romantic. The film won the 1979 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film.

In Whitby, England, the sickly Mina Van Helsing is spending some days with her friend Lucy Seward and her father Dr. Jack Seward in their house that is also an asylum at the seaside. When a ship wrecks on the coast, all the crew is dead and Mina helps the only survivor Count Dracula, who has just bought the Fairfax Abbey through Lucy’s fiancé Jonathan Harker. Soon Dracula drinks Mina’s blood taking her life. Dr. Seward summons Mina’s father Professor Abraham Van Helsing for the funeral but he arrives late. On the next night, the son of a mental patient is attacked by Mina. Professor Van Helsing discovers that his daughter is undead and the Count Dracula is a vampire. Now Van Helsing, Dr. Seward and Jonathan have to protect Lucy from the vampire. [IMDb*]

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