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Dracula (Spanish version)

Theatrical release poster.
Directed by George Melford
Produced by Paul Kohner
Carl Laemmle, Jr.
Written by Novel:
Bram Stoker
Stage Play:
Hamilton Deane
John L. Balderston
Baltasar Fernández Cué
Starring Carlos Villarías
Lupita Tovar
Barry Norton
Pablo Álvarez Rubio
Eduardo Arozamena
Cinematography George Robinson
Editing by Arthur Tavares (as Arturo Tavares)
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) 1931
Running time 104 min.[1]
Country  United States
Language Spanish
Budget $66,000

Dracula (1931) is a Spanish-language version of the more famous Tod Browning-directed Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.

In the early days of sound, it was common for Hollywood studios to produce Hollywood foreign-language versions of their films (usually in French, Spanish and German) using the same sets, costumes and etc. Unfortunately, most of these foreign language versions no longer exist. The Spanish version of Dracula is an exception. The Spanish language version of Drácula was made by director George Melford who simultaneously filmed the movie using the same sets at night. Of the cast, only Carlos Villarías was permitted to see 'dailies' of the English-language film and was encouraged to be as "Lugosi-like" as possible.

In recent years this version has become more highly praised by some than the English language version. The Spanish crew had the advantage of watching the dailies from the English crew's version when they came in for the evening and they would figure out better camera angles and more effective use of lighting in an attempt to "top" it. As a result, this version's supporters consider it to be much more artistically effective.

The Spanish semiologist Roman Gubern considers that the longer duration allows better development of the plot in spite of the shortened shooting time and smaller budget.

The Spanish version was included as a bonus feature on the Classic Monster Collection DVD in 1999, the Legacy Collection DVD in 2004 and the 75th Anniversary Edition DVD set in 2006. Included was an interview with Lupita Tovar, who had married producer Paul Kohner two years after filming.



Plot summary

Renfield, a solicitor, makes a journey into Transylvania via stagecoach. He mentions his destination, Castle Dracula, to the locals who react with alarm. They tell him Count Dracula is a vampire and when he doesn't believe them, one insists he wear a cross. When he arrives at the Castle, the Count bids him welcome. After drinking drugged wine, Renfield drops the cross and is bitten.

Aboard ship, a now-enslaved Renfield laughs maniacally below as Dracula picks off the crew one by one. When the ship reaches England, he is the only living person found.

Dracula meets Dr. Seward and his family at the Opera. Lucia is completely fascinated by him and that night becomes his victim. Professor Van Helsing is called in, and he recognizes the danger for what it is. He also realizes that Dr. Seward's patient Renfield is somehow tied up in events. But soon after meeting the Doctor's new neighbor, Dracula, he figures out who is a vampire—based on the fact Dracula casts no reflection in the mirror. Not a moment too soon, because by now Seward's daughter Eva is falling under his spell. To her horror, she feels increasingly weak and also increasingly wild—at one point attacking her fiancee Juan.

With Seward's and Harker's help, Van Helsing seeks to trap Dracula but he outwits them and escapes with Eva by seizing control of a nurse's mind. They follow Renfield into Carfax Abbey—an act which ends with Dracula killing his slave by strangulation then tossing him from a tall staircase. Deep in the catacombs under Carfax, they find Dracula asleep and Eva, still alive. Van Helsing drives a stake through the vampire's heart.

Deviations from the novel

This list is not exhaustive, but intended to convey a sense of the differences between the film and the novel:

  • The novel unfolds as a collection of journal entries, letters and clippings; the movie gives a straightforward narrative.
  • The setting is shifted from the 1890s to circa 1930.
  • Unlike the novel which mentions the word "vampire" only twice towards the end, the movie makes it clear from the outset that Dracula is a vampire.
  • Renfield goes to Transylvania and is victimized. He is found, insane, aboard the Demeter.
  • Dracula does not "youthen".
  • The characters of Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris are omitted.
  • Dr. Seward is Mina's father, not Lucy's suitor. Lucy is his ward.
  • Dracula does not have multiple coffins. He can only change into a bat, not a wolf.
  • Dracula must sleep by day.
  • The novel's chase after the Dracula's coffin (which is on a barge on a river) which is sensed by Mina is omitted.
  • In the novel vampires can be killed only with a wooden stake through the heart followed by decapitation; in the movie only a wooden stake is needed.
  • In novel Dracula is killed by Jonathan Harker; in the movie he is killed by Van Helsing.

Differences with the English version

  • The Spanish version runs approximately 104 minutes, much longer than the English version's 75 minutes.
  • At the Borgo Pass, the coach driver from the castle (who is Dracula, in disguise) actually has his face covered.
  • Renfield cuts his finger with a breadknife, not a paper clip.
  • The Brides, rather than Dracula, bite Renfield.
  • The characters' names are Hispanicized. We see Juan Harker instead of Jonathan Harker and Lucia instead of Lucy Weston/Westenra. Also, Mina is renamed Eva.
  • In the English version Lucy simply dies from Dracula's bite; The Spanish version is closer to the original book's plot involving a "Lady in White" (Lucy as a vampire) who preys on young children; Though not explicitly shown, Van Helsing and Harker are seen coming from her grave and talk about having destroyed her.
  • When Dracula knocks the mirror away in the English version it simply falls to the floor, but in the Spanish version Dracula smashes the mirror.
  • In this version we get to see an additional exterior shot of Carfax Abbey, not seen in the English-language version.
  • Eva's costume is far more revealing than the one worn by Helen Chandler. In the interview she gives for the Legacy Collection DVD Eva/Mina's actress Lupita Tolvar remarks that Latins are less restrained than Anglos.
  • When Renfield is in Carfax Abbey, he carried a torch rather than a lamp. His death is more violent is this version as well.
  • In general there is a great deal more camera movement and atmospheric lighting.

See also


  • David J. Skal (2004). Hollywood Gothic : The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen ISBN 0-571-21158-5


  1. ^ The DVD of the Spanish language version run approximately 142 minutes.

External links

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