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Monday, October 22, 2012

October 19- Son of Dracula (1943)

Today features the last movie of the Dracula franchise (excluding the monster-mash movies, of course). With the 1940's in full swing and the Universal Studios horror genre alive and well, Universal decided to make one last Dracula movie, Son of Dracula. This movie stars Lon Chaney Jr. as Count Alucard (yes, that's Dracula spelled backwards).

An obvious play on words

The film begins with Count Alucard arriving by train (although the people sent to pick him up thought he was coming by car) in America, where he was invited by Katherine Caldwell (played by Louise Allbritton), the daughter of an important Louisiana plantation owner, Colonel Caldwell (played by George Irving). The gist of the movie is that Colonel Caldwell dies suddenly, under mysterious circumstances. The Colonel's two daughters, Katherine and Claire (played by Evelyn Ankers) inherit all the Colonel's assets, Katherine getting all the money and Claire receiving the estate.

Alucard and Katherine

Shortly after the Colonel dies, Count Alucard shows up at the plantation, and begins to woo Katherine, eventually marrying her, to the dismay of her longtime boyfriend, Frank Stanley (played by Robert Paige).
Katherine eventually tells Frank that she married Alucard just to receive the gift of immortality, and that she wants to share that gift with Frank so they can spend eternity together. After Frank reluctantly agrees, she then tells Frank how to destroy Alucard (actually revealed to be Dracula himself), which is to destroy his coffin so he has nowhere to go at dawn, leaving him to be vanquished by the morning sun. Frank destroys Alucard, then proceeds to destroy Katherine''s coffin as well, making him the hero of the story.

Alucard confronting Frank
Overall, this movie was a nice addition to the series. The script was well done and all the actors played their roles well, especially Lon Chaney Jr, Louise Allbritton, and Robert Paige. Those three made the movie. Also, finding a way to add onto the mythology of Dracula while being respectful and mindful of the series, while finding a way to be a bit cheesy (naming Dracula's "son" Alucard). One thing I noticed about this film that really caught my eye were the special effects, done by John P. Fulton, the same man that did the incredible job of creating the effects for The Invisible Man in 1933. In this film is the first ever on-screen transformation from a bat into a man. For 1943, these effects blew my mind. A must see movie for the Dracula fan. I give it 4.5 bats out of 5.

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