Pod 9 From Outer Space – Dracula (1931) and Dracula (1931)

Nick

It’s another episode of pod 9 from outer space.

Liz

Cue the music!

Opening theme.

NICK

This is pod 9, where we take a look at the good, the bad and the what is that of film.

LIZ

We were going to do Tetsuo this week but we decided it was too what is that and also too horny for our little podcast.

NICK

Yes, any horny has to be siphoned off into the secret horny podcast on our network only available if you hack into the website.

LIZ

If you do want to talk to me about Tetsuo message the podcast and I will tell you my opinions. But instead we have watched Dracula 1931.

NICK

And Dracula 1931.

LIZ

Also known as Spanish Dracula.

NICK

As am I. No-one knows why though.

LIZ

So the reason we’re doing these two together…

NICK

It’s a strange confluence of events…

LIZ

So the film that basically made Bela Lugosi the horror film guy, was Dracula.

NICK

Adapted from quite a good streamlining of Dracula in play form in the 20s I want to say 24.

LIZ

Yes by Hamilton Dean and John Boulderston, excellent name John Boulderston.

NICK

Formidable quarry.

LIZ

They did it during the day and at night Carlos Vilerias plays Dracula in a Spanish film….

NICK

Called Dracula.

LIZ

But with an accent.

NICK

(incomprehensible cockney)

Yeah, Dracula.

LIZ

That’s the one. Interesting directed by an American.

NICK

Yeah that’s roite I’m American. Apple pie and… Low capital gains tax.

LIZ

Is that was George Melford sounded like?

NICK

That’s roite, I’m from Delaware.

LIZ

So we’re going to cover the iconic film and also the Bela Lugosi one. You might be aware of the 1931 Dracula for armadillos? Cause this was not actually filmed in Europe.

NICK

When you say you might know Dracula cause of Armadillos which one are you referring to?

LIZ

Are they not in both of them?

NICK

I’m just confused cause it sounds like…

LIZ

It’s a known thing among people who know these things, I add as a caveat which covers everything, that you can see armadillos in some of the shots, despite it being set in Romania.

NICK

Ah yes, it’s come back to me now, those Eastern Bloc armadillos.

LIZ

Communist armadillos.

NICK

No they’re members of the social democratic party, but were liquidated into a bisque.

LIZ

All I can picture is an armadillo in a blender and now I’m sad. I was going to say I’ll talk about Bela Lugosi but that’s sad as well, cause basically after this film Lugosi was the vampire, there were real life rumours he was an actual vampire and he just ended up being in increasingly terrible horror and b-movies and kind of exploited towards the end. Which is a shame as he was genuinely a very good actor and he didn’t get a lot of the big exciting parts cause he could never get rid of his accent. I’m going to check what his accent was…

NICK

I believe it’s Hungarian.

LIZ

Yeah, Hungarian. Cause he couldn’t get rid of his Hungarian accent which works for Dracula not so much for most American productions.

NICK

I think it’s a shame that some actors who were able to go to the states and make something of their Europeanness Peter Lorre for instance had a strong German accent – German or Austrian I can’t remember.

LIZ

I’ll look that up – Hungarian, but moved to Vienna. Probably why his accent moves around.

NICK

That’s it. And part of the reason Lugosi couldn’t do that is people tend to be snobs about horror and pigeon-hole it so he got these horror roles and was fantastic and defined a monster that’s been around in folklore for centuries.

LIZ

Yeah the reason most draculas have a widows peak is Lugosi.

NICK

This podcast is officially sad about Bela Lugosi. And it makes me think what if Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre swapped careers?

LIZ

It’s a thought – they did almost star in the same film which Lorre decided he was too big for. I think it was Black Sleep.

NICK

That makes sense. It turned out to be a good film but I can see why you’d pass on it.

LIZ

Especially after Casablanca.

NICK

Oh yeah, Casablanca, working with Hitchcock, you’re going to feel you’re too big for that.

LIZ

Yeah Peter Lorre is still great, but he won’t feature much in this podcast.

NICK

Unless he starred in some early John Waters shorts or something.

LIZ

Oh god, John Waters. Anyway, back to Dracula.

NICK

Back to Dracula indeed. We all know plenty about English Dracula.

LIZ

And also the general plot – it’s a fair guess if you’re listening to this you know how Dracula goes.

NICK

There’s going to be spoilers for a 123 year old book and all the subsequent films. I think my policy is if it’s on Project Gutenberg you can’t be spoiled for it.

LIZ

That’s fair. But you said the English Dracula is based on a well known stage adaptation, the Spanish one less so the pacing is… Odd.

NICK

Yeah do you know if they made a conscious effort to go in a very different direction less based on the play more based on what they felt the book was about?

LIZ

I don’t know for sure but it definitely feels more theme-y than eventy if that makes sense it is more of a discussion, which is why it feels maybe less polished.

NICK

Yes and to put my academic hat on for a moment, which I stole from the graduation clothes company, don’t tell them where I live, Dracula is a highly discursive text it’s all about discussion it’s all about editing, the key thing is it’s about the letters the diary entries the phonograph recordings and the peoples’ engagement with al those, it’s very hard to adapt the true essence of all those. It’s why I admire the play and people going from the play they take what is visual there, lots of visual things in Dracula.

LIZ

And again it’s a very visual film – if you’re thinking of Dracula you’re thinking of Bela Lugosi or something based on this film. I’m including Dracula Dead and Loving It there, even if the widows peak there is a bit much. It’s surprisingly faithful. It’s also my favourite Dracula film.

NICK

I’m undecided because I think I read Dracula at just the right point when I was a teenager getting properly into horror movies and horror in general and there was something about the way it was put together and the atmosphere I fell absolutely in love with I enjoyed the visuals of the Coppola Dracula because it’s just so much… But for me that structure 0 I’m not so sure how you can do it. The Spanish Dracula went OK we’ll do something with it, do themes but also…

LIZ

A very camp very enthusiastic orderly working for Dr Seward. I love this man.

NICK

I love him with my life he will not leave Renfield alone.

LIZ

I believe he’s called Martin. So yeah, Manuel Arbo, thank you Manuel Arbo for being the best bit of this film.

NICK

Arbo is our bro.

LIZ

He’s just so enthusiastic and so he cares and he likes his job and he likes people and I just love him, it does remind me we were discussing the other day which Dracula would get the most out of a theme park cause the Dracula lying down pose is the same as the water slide pose. I[‘m thinking Spanish Dracula cause Martin would drag him along and he’d have a great time.

NICK

Oh yeah, he’d drag him along to everything go on all the rides, spend a long time in the gift shop.

LIZ

Oh Dracula likes trinkets.

NICK

Get a little teddy bear for his coffin.

LIZ

That is an adorable image.

NICK

Get all wrapped up cosy nice.

LIZ

It probably gets cold in the Romanian hills. And also Yorkshire.

NICK

I have been reliably informed the Carpathians? Them chilly. In terms of – what’s really interesting is in terms of visual composition they’ve got the same sets, that’s the whole thing, but in terms of composition they’re quite different. There’s shots that everyone remembers from the English Dracula that I can remember, and the Spanish team went for different approaches and I’m not sure if they came off as well as I can’t remember them as strongly any particular moments – there didn’t appear to be their equivalent of light across his eyes thing. And sure you don’t have to have that kind of absolutely top 10 cinematographic moment, but…

LIZ

Yeah the reason we remember the English language version is iconic is they do these different things like the Morticia Addams lighting, that’s how people will remember it, comes from this film, that shot of Dracula’s castle that everyone knows comes from this film.

NICK

It’s one of those situations where the Day Dracula, that’s what I’m calling it now, the Day Dracula built on what is by this point a strong tradition of German Expressionist cinema which his all about being as extra s you can with the lighting and the-

LIZ

Strong hints of Nosteratu.

NICK

Definitely. I don’t think there is a horror film made after its inception that isn’t influenced in some way by The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Also Murnau’s non Nosferatu work like Sunrise.

LIZ

While Night Dracula is more just showing you events. I think the way the events are written is in a way more interesting it’s more thematic than event-y I don’t know why I’m saying that I’m bad at words and it’s 30 degrees.

NICK

We’re dying.

LIZ

They’re two very different approaches but they work equally as well. I can see the Lugosi one if it hadn’t happened, I can see the Spanish one taking off, at least within the Spanish speaking world, Lugosi Dracula has the advantage of begin an American release. What if all Dracula adaptations had a really enthusiastic orderly.

NICK

That would be terrific.

LIZ

Bring back Martin.

NICK

One thing I’m thinking of is codifying of horror grammar, it would take until the rise of alternate low budget horror and slasher films before we get a different style, or giallo, a different style of horror.

LIZ

Want to explain giallo?

NICK

Giallo is an Italian subgenre of horror marked by a lurid sensibility I’d say.

LIZ

I guess you could describe it as Italian B Movies, just how you would imagine Italians would approach B movies.

NICK

And the name giallo stems from the colour of the Penny Dreadful equivalents directors like Dario Argento would get their inspirations from. I’m thinking in particular you get this emphasis on close ups and establishing shots of sinister castles, tight controlled angles in Day Dracula, really sets the play book, and it’s about 30-40 years until you get people going “we’re going to have a lot more first person shots and shaky cameras”.

LIZ

And Hitchcock.

NICK

Yeah that’s it that’s kind of anther big moment and another twist. I’ll be honest I think that Night Dracula suffers for being stagey. You watch it and you think that’s the one based on a play, it feels like a theatre adaptation more than the other one.

LIZ

A lot of big acting.

NICK

Yeah, big acting in a small room.

LIZ

At the risk of going on for a very long time about the language of horror films what did we learn from Dracula and or Dracula.

NICK

Dracula taught me how to love again, and Dracula taught em how to hate.

LIZ

I learned that you can find armadillos anywhere if you look hard enough.

NICK

That’s what I mean.

LIZ

Isn’t that the same as love?

NICK

It is in some small way the same as love. So if you have an armadillo wherever you are, protect it, nurture it, raise it. Treat it like it’s your own son. Send it to school grow disillusioned with the burdens of parenthood. Stay up late worried when he doesn’t come home after a big party you told him not to go to.

LIZ

And then talk about your problems with Martin the orderly.

NICK

He’ll understand. We’ll talk to you next time.

Both

Bye-bye.

Closing music.

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