Count Alucard finds his way from Budapest to the swamps of the Deep South after meeting Katherine Caldwell, of the moneyed Caldwell clan that runs a plantation called Dark Oaks. She's obsessed with occult matters. Who better to guide her through this supernatural world than Count Alucard, whose name no one bothers to spell backwards? No one, that is, except the wily Dr. Brewster, an old family friend. He'll join Professor Lazlo, a specialist in the occult, in fighting this "Alucard" and the woman he's influenced. Or has Katherine influenced him? Meanwhile, Katherine's fiancé, Frank Stanley, will find his courage and his sanity sorely tested when he accidentally shoots Katherine to death, yet finds that she goes on living.
From the same director
Robert Paige (Frank Stanley), Louise Allbritton (Katherine Caldwell), Evelyn Ankers (Claire Caldwell), Frank Craven (Doctor Brewster), J. Edward Bromberg (Professor Lazlo), Adeline De Walt Reynolds (Madame Zimba (as Adeline DeWalt Reynolds)), Samuel S. Hinds (Judge Simmons), Pat Moriarity (Sheriff Dawes (as Patrick Moriarity)), Etta McDaniel (Sarah), George Irving (Colonel Caldwell), Lon Chaney Jr. (Count Dracula (as Lon Chaney)), Charles Bates (Tommy Land (uncredited)), Joan Blair (Mrs. Land (uncredited)), Jess Lee Brooks (Stephen, the Valet (uncredited)), Jimmy the Crow (Madame Zimba's Crow (uncredited)), Cyril Delevanti (Dr. Peters, the Coroner (uncredited)), Robert Dudley (Jonathan Kirby, Justice of the Peace (uncredited)), Ben Erway (Charlie - Train Conductor (uncredited)), Robert F. Hill (Deputy Shooting at Frank (uncredited)), Sam McDaniel (Andy, Servant Who Greets Dracula (uncredited)), George Meeker (Party Guest (uncredited)), Charles R. Moore (Matthew, Plantation Worker (uncredited)), Jack Rockwell (Jack, Deputy (uncredited)), Walter Sande (Mac, Deputy (uncredited)), Emmett Smith (Servant (uncredited))...
Producer Carl Laemmle Jr changed history of horror cinema when he hired director Tod Browning to make the first official adaptation to Bram Stoker's classic novel "Dracula". This was the beginning of Universal Studios' tradition of Gothic horror that reigned triumphant through the 30s and early 40s. Robert Siodmak's "Son of Dracula", an alternative sequel (it doesn't make any reference to the earlier "Dracula's Daughter") to Browning's classic, is probably the last classic in the long line of films Universal produced about the monsters they gave life in the 30s.
"Son of Dracula" takes place decades after the first film, when the Dracula's story is now considered a mere myth. The story begins with the arrival of Count Alucard (Lon Chaney Jr.) to America, as the mysterious Carpathian noble has been invited to the country by Katherine 'Kay' Caldwell (Louise Allbritton), a young rich woman with a morbid interest for the supernatural. Soon Kay finds herself in love with the strange Count, something that worries her boyfriend Frank (Robert Paige) and family's friend Prof. Brewster (Frank Craven), as they suspect that there's something wrong with the strange foreigner.
Director of many B-Movies before this job, Robert Siodmak would become Universal's most important exponent of the noir style and "Son of Dracula" definitely forecasts his brilliant future in the genre. The film shows his great talent to combine haunting and atmospheric visuals with a great screenplay (by his brother, Curt Siodmak), and it moves away from the series' roots in German Expressionism to what would be called Film Noir, creating what seems to be the missing link between Universal's horror films and their subsequent Noir movies.
While Robert Siodmak's talent is almost unquestionable, the films owes a lot of its success to Curt Siodmak's cleverly written script. Just like in his previous "The Wolf Man", the story is charged with a dark pessimistic feeling of dread that gives the film a unique feeling (contrary to most Universal horrors, there's almost no comedy) that rather than making the film dull or boring it enhances its captivating charm. With clever plot twists and a good dose of suspense, Siodmak's plot also feels like horror themed hard-boiled fiction.
Many has been written about Siodmak's choice of Lon Chaney Jr. to play the Count's descendant, but while there's no doubt that he was not the best choice for the role, he wasn't really too bad in it. Sure, Chaney's appearance suits better the bulkier monsters but he gets the job done and his sad face suits the dark theme of deception the movie has. Robert Paige as the film's "hero" (for lack of a better word) is very effective and his usual co-star Louise Allbritton makes a great femme fatal. Frank Craven and J. Edward Bromberg are brilliant as the vampire hunters and it could be said that despite the miscast of Chaney the whole cast makes a great job.
"Son of Dracula" is a top-notch film considering it was conceived as a B-movie. Robert Siodmak makes great use of his resources and the film rivals the first film in quality and overall composition. One of the better sequels of the Universal Studios' films, it's main flaw may be that those expecting a typical Universal horror may be disappointed by its dark Noir theme and its pessimistic tone.
Often forgotten among the many other films in the series (not unusual considering that the first two Frankenstein sequels were masterpieces), "Son of Dracula" is a worthy sequel to Browning's classic and definitely superior to the previous "Dracula's Daughter". A must see for fans of Robert Siodmak who will find the roots of his style deep in this film. 8/10
El hijo de Drácula (Argentina; Spain; Mexico; Uruguay (original subtitled version)) • De zoon van Dracula (Belgium (Flemish title)) • Le fils de Dracula (Belgium (French title)) • O Filho de Drácula (Brazil; Portugal) • Draculas Sohn (Germany) • Draculan poika (Finland (TV title)) • Kapetan Vrykolakas (Greece (transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title)) • O gios tou Drakoula (Greece (DVD title)) • O gyios tou Drakoula (Greece (reissue title)) • Drakula fia (Hungary)
Universal Pictures (presents) (as Universal)
dracula character, shared universe, dracula, swamp, vampire, transformation, sister sister relationship, bat, gypsy woman, voodoo, telepathy, moral transformation, moral dilemma, marriage of convenience, last will and testament, transmutation, confession of crime, deception, immortality, murder, justice of the peace, mother son relationship, fortune teller, attempted murder, vampire bat, father daughter relationship
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