Starring Lon Chaney Jr., Robert Paige, Louise Allbritton, Evelyn Ankers, Frank Craven
Directed by Robert Siodmak
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)
Count Dracula, posing under an assumed name, takes up residence at an American plantation with the willing aid of a young woman, who is obsessed with the supernatural.
Lon Chaney Jr.'s only featured performance as Dracula, coming about when Universal was casting him as all their classic monsters, is not in the same league as Bela Lugosi's or really any other portrayer of the Count, but I'm still very fond of this film. Chaney does about as well as one could expect him to do in the role, but in my opinion, it just isn't suited to him, although he's surrounded by a fine supporting cast, with Allbritton a standout as the lady who becomes a vampire herself. The movie's perhaps most notable for being a collaboration of sorts for the brothers Siodmak, with writer Curt providing the plot (although Eric Taylor is credited with the screenplay), and Robert, better known for his film noir entries, helming the production as director. Despite Robert's involvement, there's ironically much less shadow here than in the other films of his I've seen, with the focus on showcasing John Fulton's special effects that allow Dracula to transform on camera from bat to human to smoky vapor. However, the film still has a rich atmosphere, with its bayou setting providing a spooky backdrop for the Count, including a memorable scene where he floats across the river standing atop his coffin. Interestingly the music score offers moody accompaniment perfectly suited to the action, but heavily features selections from Frank Skinner's score for Sherlock Holmes And The Voice Of Terror, oddly featuring the familiar title theme for Holmes and Watson during a climactic moment late in the film.