Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Son of Dracula (1943)
The Universal Pictures monsters are responsible for the success of horror franchises. And just like modern franchises, these classics have varying degrees of quality. Dracula spawned three sequels, SON OF DRACULA being the second sequel and arguably the best just behind the original.
When Count Alucard (Lon Chaney) comes to Dark Oaks, a plantation owned by the Caldwell family, mysterious deaths begin to occur. From Madame Zimba (Adeline DeWalt Reynolds), a gypsy fortune teller who warns that Alucard is not who he says, to Colonel Caldwell (George Irvin). The story begins to unfold as Kay Caldwell (Louise Allbritton) marries Alucard unbeknownst to her fiancee' Frank (Robert Paige). When Frank is overcome with jealousy and tries to kill the Count but instead kills Kay in the process he finds that there is something different about Count Alucard. From here an investigation into the origins of Alucard and the murder surrounding Kay and why she has been seen alive since the night of the murder.
This is a vampire story centered around a classic tale of jealousy and deceit and is reminiscent of classic Film Noir titles. The direction from Rober Siodmak is tight and the sets look good. There are numeous transformation scenes which look pretty damn good almost 70 years later.
Chaney may never receive the credit he deserves for how well he handles the role of Count Dracula due to having to follow the legendary Bela Lugosi. Chaney's Dracula, the son of Lugosi's, is a much more menacing character than that of Lugosi's. He was not afraid to hurt you if you got in his way, and he didn't shy away from violence or confrontation. That said, he had an underlying feeling of sorrow or regret which made his performance that much more impressive. Chaney wasn't the Drac that Lugosi was, but he was great in his own right.
A worthy entry into the DRACULA series and one of the better sequels to come from the classic Universal monsters.