Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 243: The Son of Dracula (1943) - Rank 3/5


The mediocre third entry in the Dracula series at Universal studios. Unlike "Dracula's Daughter," "Son of Dracula" ties, in on way, to its predecessors. Set in New Orleans, presumably in 1943, the Caldwell plantation receives an Eastern European gentleman caller - one Count Alucard (uh oh - palindrome zaniness!). Alucard (Lon Chaney Jr.) was invited to the home by Kay, one of Colonel Caldwell's two daughters, for reasons that are as ambiguous as Chaney's accent. The colonel "mysteriously" dies, the "Dark Oaks" plantation is willed to Kay and Kay's sister and Fiance are both inquisitive when she pledges her love to Alucard. The fiancee tries to kill Alucard for stealing his girl, accidentally shoots Kay and we're expected to view him as a hero. Meanwhile, a random doctor is thrown into the mix to play Van Helsing and goes through the motions to prove Alucard is a vampire (the crowning piece of evidence is that Alucard is Dracula spelled backwards...yeah).

The script is pretty lackluster, but I will give the film props for a couple of points. First, the swamps of New Orleans make an atmospheric backdrop for a wanna-be Gothic tale. Second, there are come effective and mildly creepy moments in the film - from Alucard's transformation into a bat (surprisingly smooth for the era) and scenes where Alucard floats over the water of a swamp, trailing a cloud of mist behind him. I always found this trick to be an eerie twist for Dracula in "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and I found it fascinating that it seems to originate here. Overall though, a film best left to the Universal classic horror diehards.

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