Dracula-SP (4/24/1931) Debating which version is technically superior is like Han-Shot first, a circular exercise in rhetoric. Before it was included in the Legacy set, none of us had seen it and had no reason to compare the two simulateous versions. Pardon my usual catch phrase, apples and oranges. I have only watched this version a few times, I like a lot of the details that were added and wish I could merge them into the English version.
The cellar/coffin scene in the Spanish version is a bit of a funhouse with lots of coffins and lots of wives, but we do get to see him emerge, like three times in the film….which is excessive. (why does he need THREE boxes of earth?), they make the Dracula passing through the cobweb gag much more obvious, Reinfield stops for a what-the-hell-moment when his bags turn up in his room when we know Dracula has no servants…maybe he has a dumb waiter, the Spanish brides are way scarier and pounce on Reinfield while Dracula abstains from drinking from a guy….must be a machismo thing. When Lugosi smiles creepily he looks like he is grimacing in pain, when Villarías does it, it looks very creepy, I have decided that he is trying to make his guest comfortable but he hasn’t smiled it in such a long time he has forgotten how. I personally don’t know the ins and outs of the script alterations…I prefer Reinfield cutting himself on the breadknife than the papercut, and Villarías’ reaction to the cross is more offended than frightened which made me laugh. Reinfield’s hysterical laughter on the ship while Dracula menaces the crew who are frozen to their posts is way creepier…do you stay or do you jump off into the sea?…not great choices. You get to see a lot of Villarías teeth when he sneers and menaces people…the push-in to Lugosi’s face you just see a blacked hole for a mouth which reminds me of the Japanese Ohaguro custom of teeth blackening….Maybe Villarías just had better teeth. But both fellas had a great stare and you can believe they are both mesmerizing people, and we see a lot more mind control in the Spanish version, which reminded me of the stage hypnotists that have been popular since the 1890s.
We still don’t find out why he emmigrates but we do get the Lucy resolution which was apparently cut from the English version for costs and time. The Spanish version is longer, my theory is if you only paid a nickel wouldn’t you want MORE movie for your money? Perhaps they didn’t have the same time constraints when running films in Spanish cinemas, perhaps they wanted a lot more melodrama so they can sell more popcorn and have more pee breaks. Reinfield certainly gets a lot more screen time to chew the scenery and give prophetic warnings that no one listens to. I suppose letting him roam around is cheaper than hiring an exterminator. The women are much more sexy in the Spanish version, Lupita’s introduction points out the costume differences, sheer nighties and decolletage all on display. Villarías is certainly over-posturing when he’s in her bedroom….I mean dude…she’s asleep, you’re alone, get ON with it. But the men still push Mina around like a prop china doll no matter which version you are watching. Is it just me? full opera cloak and top hat outfit in a graveyard? seems way overdressed, I can’t see him in that outfit without thinking of Fred March’s Mr Hyde outfit…..does he keep a shoe shine kit in his coffin? and a clothing brush? brylcreem, perhaps this stuff is packed in his other boxes of dirt.