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Dracula (1931)- The Transfusion Edit

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Todd Browning's 1931 "Dracula" is a film that, to put it mildly, is iconic almost by default. As a film, it is perhaps the dullest and most pedestrian of the 'classic' movie monsters, Lugosi's charisma saving many moments that would otherwise have been painfull.

Despite a few moments of sheer brilliance at the beginnig, it exudes mediocrity in many forms, from camera set up, to pacing. It also does not have a score.

My goal would be to make the second half of the film less of a drawing room mystery and more of a horror film on par with the rest of the Universal Canon.

My resources:

"Mexican" Dracula- The Spanish language version of the film has several sequences that are marked improvements. In shots wide enough to get away with it, I may substitute shots of the similar looking Carlos Villarias for Lugosi if the shot is more atmosphereic. I will be replacing the Browning armadillos (mandated by the censors at the time) with the shots of actual rats from the Mexican Dracula. It's half an hour longer than the English language version.

"Ship at Sea"- Due to the low budget, shots of the ship "Demeter" are recycled from an old silent, and are a different framerate than the rest of the film. It's cheap and it shows. I will try to find a better series of shots of a ship in a storm.

Score- (I will not consider the atrocius Phillip Glass score). Using the opening credits "Swan Lake" as a starter, I plan to utilize more of "Swan Lake" and probably some cues stolen from other horror films of the era.

"Mark of the Vampire" "Return of the Vampire"- Two Lugosi vampire films. There might be a few moments in each of these of use.

"Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstien" The only other film Lugosi played Dracula in, but he's 13 years older and noticably larger. I don't know if there's anything of use.

This film has LOTS of people talking about awesome things that happened off camera. I'm going to scoure all the classic horror/chiller films of the era for bits an peices to steal. Wolves, foggy streets, rats, etc.

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I am very interested in seeing what you do with this. Good Luck!!!

"The other versions will disappear. Even the 35 million tapes of Star Wars out there won’t last more than 30 or 40 years. A hundred years from now, the only version of the movie that anyone will remember will be the DVD version [of the Special Edition], and you’ll be able to project it on a 20’ by 40’ screen with perfect quality. I think it’s the director’s prerogative, not the studio’s to go back and reinvent a movie." - George Lucas

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Bingowings said:

Maybe the slow motion carriage from Mask Of Satan could be used, some chunks of Mark Of The Vampire could work very well indeed.

 I'm not familiar with Mask of Satan I'll have to check it out.

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Bingowings said:

It's a great film in it's own right but it has lots of AKAs :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mask_of_Satan

There are some nice shots you could use if you wanted to build a Lucy subplot, crypts and the like and a lovely tumbledown gothic church which could double for Carfax abbey.

 

 Oh... I know of it as "Black Sunday." Good flick. I'm not sure footage from 1960 would match up, even decolorized.

I just made it through most of the RKO 1940s horror films, and scored a couple of shots I might use.

Frankly, Mexican Dracula is so damn much better than the Browning film it hurts.

 

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Holy crap... "Black Mask of Satan's Sunday" IS black and white. I must have seen it colorized on cable back in the day. Damn  you Ted Turner!!!

But like you said Bingo, the big problem I'm having is that all my sources are from the late 30s-late 40s, and they just dont seem to match up with 1931's Dracula visualy. The shift in quality is quite jarring, and I'm not sure how to tweak it.

Luckily, Mexican Dracula from 1931 just keeps giving me sweet sweet shots to use. And the fact Dracula doesn't have a score is really helpful in adding material anywhere I want.

The score is coming along nicely... stealing a lot of cues from the abysmal "Son of Dracula" as well as some more "Swan Lake."

Contemplating a Showing Actors in Clips from the Movie opening credits, like Universal did with "The Wolf Man."

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Is the Spanish Dracula commercially available?

Is there a Region 2 version?

I've always wanted to see it and it would be very handy for something I'm attempting to put together.

+++UPDATE+++

I've ordered the George Melford version region one (hopefully I shall not be bitten by the Vampire of customs charges).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M

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This project sounds really cool. I look forward to seeing the finished product!

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I'm a big time Dracula, and Universal Horror fan. This version sounds like it could very well be the ultimate Dracula film, the best of both worlds, and I've always thought there was something missing. Your additions sound fantastic and I look forward to seeing it.

~SK

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If only there was a way to get Lugosi's face on Carlos Villarias during that great moving shot that introduced Dracula to Renfield.

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It's possible, it's just that it would take a fair bit of work and I'm not sure as to whether or not the results would be convincing.

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Instead of replacing his face have you thought about adding a shadow to "hide" his face, and then use a close up as a reveal? I'm going on a distant memory as I haven't seen the spainsh version of the film in about a decade, could something like this work?

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The project is currently on hiatus, but one of the shots I did darken so that Villarias's face wasn't as obviously un-Lugosi in a long shot. I think it works. I'll post a screen-cap.

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Sad to hear the project has run into the H-word. Me and my friends are really looking forward to this one, and I hope you can get back on it soon. D:

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There's a shot from the 1922 silent film 'Sherlock Holmes', starring John Barrymore (and recently released on DVD by Kino), that would be absolutely perfect for this project. The scene in question shows a spider web with a Lugosi-like face at the center of the web. Even the suit collar around the neck looks similar to the collar worn by Lugosi's Dracula.

I tried to locate the scene in question on YouTube, to no avail. But seriously, take a look at the 1922 silent 'Sherlock Holmes' and look for that scene with the face at the center of a spider web...it looks like it was tailer-made of for this proposed fan-edit. So much so that I immediately thought of this thread when I happen to stumble upon the film on TCM a while back (I just didn't get around to posting about it untill now).

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 Back to work on this, although it's becoming more of a Mexican/English hybrid cut. the only shot I'm planning on yoinking from another film is the ship at sea, and I still haven't found one good enough.

I'm REALLY happy with how Swan Lake and a couple of cues from "Dracula's Daughter" is adding to the film. There will be very little scoring, but I think it heightens it at points, while not ruining the eerie silences at others.

I'll see if I can find that silent Sherlock Holmes, thanks for the tip.

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TheBoost said:

 

 

I'll see if I can find that silent Sherlock Holmes, thanks for the tip.

You're very welcome. I'm quite looking forward to finally checking out what you've managed to come up with, once the project is completed.

Here's a list of shots from the 1930 Spanish Version that I absolutely believe should be included in this:

1) The fluid camera movements introducing the Count on the staircase
2) Shots of actual rats alongside the original armadillos (why not have both?)
3) Renfield swatting his cane at the swooping bat
4) Dracula walking through the spiderweb without disturbing it
5) The castle doors hauntingly opening by themselves
6) Dracula rising from his coffin in a puff of smoke
7) Dracula preying upon the crew of the ship
 
Also, in the experimental David Lynch produced "pseudo-sequel" to 'Dracula' entitled 'Nadja', that starred Peter Fonda as a mondern day descendent of VanHelsing, the director utilized close-up shots of Lugosi's arched eybrows and hypnotic eyes to indicate the presence & influence of the legendery vampire--- upon & within the unfolding narrative. Interestingly, this footage was culled from 'White Zombie', but these close-ups just scream out "Dracula!!!", even though they were probably chosen mainly because of how much it would've cost the filmmakers to actually use footage from the original 1930 film...If I were to ever tackle a 'Dracula (1930)' fan-edit, I would definitely utilize a few of those crazy eye close-ups from 'White Zombie'...but that's just me.
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Nice to see you posting again is there any news on this project?

As you know it's one I'm very keen on seeing.

I agree with ThomasJavis about the eye shots from White Zombie.

They fit into roughly the same time period as the original film and could be quite effective either as stand alone shots or as overlays to existing shots.

One of the things I never really liked about the 1931 film is the Castle exterior design which is rather squat and featureless (not matching the Gothic beauty of the grand hall interior matte and set).

We later get a snap to a castle exterior which doesn't match the painting, looks too realistic and doesn't fit in with stylised Gothic look.

The castle exterior from Dracula's Daughter is much more interesting in my opinion it may be possible to swap it over.

A rough illustration but maybe someone like angel could give you a more polished matte to use.

castle Redux

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M

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I have never seen any of the films you guys are talking about. I may have seen parts of "Dracula" (1931) on T.V.  when I was very young but it did not hold my attention. This edit you are constructing sounds great, and my being able to view this tale from a completely unbiased and fresh point of view seems very exciting to me.

 

FF

“First feel fear, then get angry. Then go with your life into the fight.” - Bill Mollison

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Another idea I had recently would be to realign the instances of slightly off highlights on Bela's eyes.

This might be doable by adjusting the lighting around the misaligned highlights so they fade away and then put new ones in (in the same style) over the adjusted shot.

For example :

Bela's Eyes Redux

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M

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Bingowings said:

The castle exterior from Dracula's Daughter is much more interesting in my opinion it may be possible to swap it over.

A rough illustration but maybe someone like angel could give you a more polished matte to use.

castle Redux

 

 Funny, I never thought to replace that shot, but it would be lovely. I have no earthly idea how to make a decent matte shot, but I'll look into the Dracula's Daughter exterior.

As for the eyes, again i think that's beyond my technical abilities but very cool.

I have most of the inserting from Mexican Dracula in, and need to spend a bit more time on the score. My model is "Bride of Frankenstien" which has

Still scouring old movies for a shot of a strom battered ship to replace the awful Demeter establishing shot.

 Oddly, I don't own White Zombie. Must procure a copy.

There's a shot of a wolf on a patio in Jess Franco's "Dracula." I'm trying to make it b/w and blend into the movie without being too jarring. It would only be a couple seconds.

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I'll have a rummage.

I currently have two drives full of Dracula clips for my own (very different) project including a large folder of Demeter clips so there must be something in there for you (talons crossed).

I've got quite a few wolf shots too so I'll keep em peeled.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M

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Mexican Dracula's cane is so pimpin'.

That is all.