Monster of the Day, #2

“I am…Dracula.  I bid you welcome.”

  • Rock Baker

    I know I’m probably cutting against the grain here, but I liked Carradine’s Dracula better. (Not that I’d take anything away from Lugosi, after playing Dracula thousands of times on stage, Bela OWNS that role.) I also liked Francis Lederer and Christopher Lee, and I may be the sole fan who liked Chaney as Dracula. Ah, I’ve got room in my heart for them all!

  • I love them all, too, Rock (at least until the modern era). Still, I don’t think Chaney’s was very good. His attempts to play aristocratic are woeful, he weighed too much (a flaw also when he assayed the Mummy), and frankly arrogance wasn’t one of the few things he could act well. Dracula is on the opposite end of the scale for him from Larry Talbot. Then add in the fact that a 20s-something chick plays his Drac for a complete chump. It wasn’t his proudest moment.

    I really do like Carradine’s Dracula a lot better. Indeed, I’ve said before that unlike most people, I’d like to access the alternate universe copy of Son of Dracula (which aside from Chaney is really pretty darn good) where Carradine played the Count, rather than the alternate universe version where Lugosi did. But that’s not because Carradine is a better Dracula than Lugosi, it’s because Carradine never really got a shot at playing Dracula at length while he was still in his prime. His two appearances in Houses of Dracula and Frankenstein are largely extended (if awesome) cameos, and when he did finally play the role at feature length, it was in Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. The less said about that the better.

    The reason I loved watching the Spanish version of the ’31 Dracula, when it finally resurfaced, is that it really spotlighted exactly how great Lugosi was in the role. The Spanish version is superior to the Browning one in almost every other aspect. Ironically, that only highlighted the glaring, painful absence of Lugosi from the center of the film.

  • Rock Baker

    Well, your points about Son of Dracula are well taken, and the flaws become more obvious as I picture what it would’ve been like with Carradine in the part. Wow! That might’ve been the perfect Dracula movie! I still liked the movie, and felt Chaney’s look (extra pounds aside) worked for the Count (Dracula should always wear a mustache). His Dracula is a bit of a jerk, and I have to admit Lon isn’t great at being a jerk. One thing I did like was the moment he discovered the double-cross against him.

  • Rock Baker

    I also have to admit enjoying Billy The Kid vs Dracula. Fun matinee flicks like that are a dying -if not dead- breed.

  • “One thing I did like was the moment he discovered the double-cross against him.”

    I think his strongest moment is when he discovers his coffin being burned. That’s because desperation is one of the things Chaney could do well. His strengths lied in all the flavors of vulnerability.

    Billy the Kid vs. Dracula is definitely a fun film, but it’s awful. (I really need to review that.) And shriveled up Carradine is sadly past his prime, and looks distressingly fragile. I think they had to use wires for the scenes where he lifts up the heroine in his arms.

  • Rock Baker

    Granted. But still, Billy the Kid, Dracula, all I need to know. Actually, its too bad Universal didn’t have that idea back in the 40s, that would’ve been a neat flick I think. If Carradine was too old when he made ‘Billy the Kid’ can you imagine how poorly he looked when he played the part again in Vampire Hookers? Let’s see, that was about 1980 I think. He really should’ve learned to say ‘no’ from time to time.

  • sandra

    I think SON OF DRACULA is an under=rated classic. True, Chaney was totally miscast as an aristocratic vampire, but he did his best to project suave menace, and succeeded to the extent that he didn’t make a complete fool of himself. The clever script helps, as we are not expected to swallow that he seduced Kaye with his continental charm. The wench intends to off him and have a HEA with her old boyfriend. By extreme coincidence, yesterday I was at the UBS and glanced at a book on vampires by Leonard Wolf. he hated Son: “lousy acting, dull script’ etc Obviously, we saw completely different versions. His must have been from a parallel universe.