Son of Dracula
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Son of Dracula 1943

Count Alucard (read his name backwards) 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...

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Lon Chaney Jr. is back, to mixed reviews. Mostly bad, though, but the bad ones seem to be based on the questionable idea that he is playing not the son of Dracula, but Dracula himself. The source of this somewhat flawed thinking is the fact that Chaney Jr.'s character also goes by the name Count Dracula, after operating under the asinine alias of Count Alucard. So it must be the same Dracula portrayed by Bela Lugosi, right? Not if that's all the proof you've got. It's specifically stated in the movie that Dracula is a family name, so his heir, if he had one, would inherit both the name and the title of count. Therefore, this Dracula could be a descendant of the earlier Dracula, although not necessarily a son, at least not in the literal sense. Also, One of the characters is seen reading the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, and later is told by an expert that Dracula was destroyed in the 19th century, as in the novel, not in the 1930's as in the earlier film. So perhaps this is not a direct sequel to that film, but more of what is today popularly called a re-imagining. My point is that it's unfair to judge Chaney's performance and alternative acting choices against Lugosi's superior previous performance, as if they were both playing the same character. In fact Chaney's quick temper and impetuous nature match the count of the novel much more than Lugosi's calm, suave socialite.
Now, onto the film, if we must. It's much more fun than the previous two, but abandons that dry sophistication that gives viewers a smug sense of self satisfaction for sitting through the whole thing. I suppose that's another way that it matches the novel. The novel is pulp trash that should have briefly entertained the masses in the late 19th century, then faded quietly into obscurity, but somehow it has stayed with us and is today regarded as classic literature. This film shares the novel's pulpy nature, but is hardly a classic, yet here it is, still with us today.
Plot? I won't bore you, I'll let the movie do that. Just kidding.
Welcome to all Lon Chaney Jr. fans, Dracula completists and any possible Evelyn Ankers oglers. It's a good B grade monster movie for those who don't demand great depth from all their viewing matter.
Eccentric sothern belle Katherine Caldwell (Allbritton) apparently falls under the sway of a mysterious Transylvanian nobleman, Alucard (Chaney), while traveling in Europe. When he arrives in the United States, strange deaths start happening, and isolates himself and Katherine in her manorhouse on Darkwood Plantation. But after she is accidentially shot to death by her fiance (Paige), the true horror of what Katherine's plans start to emerge.

"Son of Dracula" is a surprisingly effective and mature horror film. I had very low hopes for it when Dracula shows up in Louisiana with the clever aka of "Alucard"--gosh, no one's going to figure that one out!

But fortunately, that's the one bit of childish idiocy in this exceptionally creepy movie.

From Dracula's takeover of Darkwood, to the first time we see Dracula emerge from his swampbound coffin, to Frank going insane from gunning down Katherine... and to the twists and turns the film takes as it moves through its second and third acts. (To reveal that Katherine dies at the hand of Frank is NOT a spoiler for this film. Her death is where the story starts to truly unfold.)

Every scene in this film drips with atmosphere. Despite dating from the mid-1940s where Universal horror films seemed to be targeted primarily at kids, this is a movie with a story that compares nicely to "The Mummy" and "Frankenstein". It may even be a little superior to those two, as far as the story goes, because it's got some twists that I guarentee you will not see coming.

The film is also blessed with a score that is surprisingly effective for a Universal horror picture--I tend to find them overblown for the most part, but here the music perfectly compliments what unfolds on the screen--and with a cast that is mostly superb in their roles.

I say mostly, because Lon Chaney Jr. is does not make a good Dracula at all. He comes across like a dockworker who's borrowed someone's tuxedo for the evening (or who maybe took it off the owner after beating him into unconsciousness). There simply is nothing menacing about Chaney's Dracula... he's brutish and, as the film builds to its climax, desperate, but never menacing or frightening. He is quite possibly the worst Dracula I've ever come across.

Aside from a weak "Dracula", everything else in this film is top-notch, resulting in a horror movie that's surprisingly effective and high quality when compared to the rest of Universal's horror output of the time. In fact, it's a movie that may even have been ahead of its time, as the pacing, style, and overall look of the film reminded me more of the British horror movies that would emerge from Hammer Films starting a little more than a decade after "Son of Dracula" was first released.

In fact, whether you prefer the Hammer Dracula films (as I do, quite frankly) or the Universal ones, this is a film that will appeal to you.


Son of Dracula
Starring: Robert Paige, Frank Craven, Louise Allbritton, Lon Chaney, Jr., Evelyn Ankers, and J. Edward Bromberg
Director: Robert Siodmak
Not one of the better Dracula films. This film had me a bit antsy to be over with. Performances were stale (even the incredible Lon Chaney Jr. was a bust as Count Dracula). Chaney is usually amazing, but this performance did nothing for his persona as monster movie legend. Son of Dracula wasn't a terrible movie, but not really worth watching either. It's just an average film.
Not one of the better Dracula films. This film had me a bit antsy to be over with. Performances were stale (even the incredible Lon Chaney Jr. was a bust as Count Dracula). Chaney is usually amazing, but this performance did nothing for his persona as monster movie legend. Son of Dracula wasn't a terrible movie, but not really worth watching either. It's just an average film.

Edit: Originally posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 under Lucky7s22G
Not one of the better Dracula films. This film had me a bit antsy to be over with. Performances were stale (even the incredible Lon Chaney Jr. was a bust as Count Dracula). Chaney is usually amazing, but this performance did nothing for his persona as monster movie legend. Son of Dracula wasn't a terrible movie, but not really worth watching either. It's just an average film.

Edit: Originally posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 under Lucky7s22G

Son of Dracula (1943)

At first glance Lon Chaney Jr. just doesn't look right as Count Dracula, or in this case Count Alucard, especially after the iconic performance of Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Chaney's take on the role is much different than Lugosi's. Lugosi's performance took on more of the mystical abilities of Dracula while Chaney's took on more of the physical abilities of Dracula and Chaney as a huge man was definitely a physical presence. I actually thought this movie had a better script than the original Dracula but the original had the atmosphere and of course the iconic performance of Lugosi going for it.
Lon Chaney Jr. is not good as Dracu- sorry, Alucard (DRACULA!). This is not good casting. He's the Wolf Man, damnit! And most of the time he just stands around frowning at people. A little bit better than Dracula's Daughter, but not anything special.