Dracula (1931)

‘DRACULA’ (1931): Unleashing Storms of Horror

The 1931 film Dracula is a classic horror film directed by Tod Browning and stars Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. Though some may prefer F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, this film at least had the blessing of the “rightful owner,” the estate of Bram Stoker. It also did more to popularize the character, which is largely why it’s in the National Film Registry as a film that is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

The movie follows the story of Count Dracula as he moves from Transylvania to England to spread the undead curse, with Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) and others trying to stop him. Indeed, that curse is threatening to become more widespread and deadlier than “The Tide Pod Challenge.” However, the freaky curse does not singlehandedly create a darkened mood. In the film, stormy weather is used to create a dramatic and atmospheric effect, particularly during key scenes.

Dracula and the Storm A’brewin’

Stormy weather marks the arrival of Count Dracula in England. As the ship carrying Dracula approaches the coast, a fierce storm adds tension and sets the mood for the eerie events that follow. The novel depicts it like this in Chapter 7: “[A] shudder ran through all who saw her, for lashed to the helm was a corpse, with drooping head, which swung horribly to and fro at each motion of the ship. No other form could be seen on the deck at all.”

The use of stormy weather in this scene is a common literary/cinematic technique in horror to heighten suspense and create a sense of foreboding, and this no doubt made Dracula seem almost like a blending of natural and supernatural forces. The stormy weather in Dracula serves as a visual and atmospheric element to enhance the gothic and supernatural aspects of the story, contributing to the overall mood of the film. It also enhances our views on Renfield (Dwight Frye), who seems to experience a nonstop feverish dream of vampires in his delirium.

If Dracula doesn't get 'em, maybe the storm will!

The Cinematic Storm of Dracula

Storminess and mental turmoil can easily go hand in hand, and make for crazy and deadly times. Dracula also helped set up audiences for other monstrous story ideas, such as assorted zombies, or spirits from the past that could not be killed, or who could only be killed in a certain way.

However, some will always prefer that, if corpses walk, they also talk like Bela Lugosi…and don’t forget your umbrella! Tod Browning would go on to direct Freaks, another film with a famous storm scene, but this one captures madness just as well, with Dwight Frye skillfully playing Dracula’s mad assistant, Renfield. We all go a little mad sometimes, but certain voyages are bumpier than others.

What are your thoughts on Dracula’s dark voyage to England and this partly symbolic storm of treacherous vampirism? Let us know in the comments!

 

About wadewainio

Wade is a wannabe artist and musician (operating under the moniker Grandpa Helicopter), and an occasional radio DJ for WMTU 91.9 FM Houghton. He is an occasional writer for Undead Walking, and also makes up various blogs of his own. He even has a few books in the works. Then again, doesn't everyone?

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