Son of Dracula (1943 film)

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Son of Dracula
Son of Dracula movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Siodmak
Produced by Ford Beebe
Written by Curtis Siodmak (story)
Eric Taylor
Starring Lon Chaney, Jr.
Robert Paige
Louise Allbritton
Evelyn Ankers
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates November 5, 1943
Running time 80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Son of Dracula is a 1943 American horror film directed by Robert Siodmak – his first film for Universal studios – with a screenplay based on an original story by his brother Curt. The film stars Lon Chaney, Jr. and his frequent co-star Evelyn Ankers. Notably it is the first film where a vampire is actually shown physically transforming into a bat on screen. It is the third in Universal Studios' Dracula trilogy, beginning with Dracula and Dracula's Daughter.

Plot[edit]

Hungarian Count Alucard (Lon Chaney Jr.), a mysterious stranger, arrives in the U.S. invited by Katherine Caldwell (Louise Allbritton), one of the daughters of New Orleans plantation owner Colonel Caldwell (George Irving). Shortly after his arrival, the Colonel dies of apparent heart failure and leaves his wealth to his two daughters, with Claire receiving all the money and Katherine his estate "Dark Oaks." Katherine, a woman with a taste for the morbid, has been secretly dating Alucard and eventually marries him, shunning her long-time boyfriend Frank Stanley. Frank confronts the couple and tries to shoot Alucard but the bullets pass through the Count's body and hit Katherine, seemingly killing her.

A shocked Frank runs off to Dr. Brewster, who visits Dark Oaks and is welcomed by Alucard and a living Katherine. The couple instruct him that henceforth they will be devoting their days to scientific research and only welcome visitors at night. Frank goes on to the police and confesses to the murder of Katherine. Brewster tries to convince the Sheriff that he saw Katherine alive and that she would be away all day, but the Sheriff insists on searching Dark Oaks. He finds Katherine's dead body and has her transferred to the morgue.

Meanwhile, Hungarian Professor Lazlo arrives at Brewster's house. Brewster has noticed that Alucard is Dracula spelled backwards and Lazlo suspects vampirism. A local boy brought to Brewster's house confirms this suspicion—there are bite marks on his neck. Later, the Count appears to Brewster and Lazlo but is driven away by a cross.

Vampiric Katherine enters Frank's cell as a bat and starts his transformation. After he awakens, she explains that she still loves him—she married Alucard (who is really Dracula himself) only to attain immortality and wants to share said immortality with Frank. He is initially repulsed but then yields to her. As she explains that she has already drank some of his blood, she advises him on how to destroy Alucard. He breaks out of prison, seeks out Alucard's hiding place and burns his coffin; with no daytime sanctuary, Alucard is destroyed. Brewster, Lazlo, and the Sheriff arrive at the scene, only finding Alucard's remains. They then go to Dark Oaks, where they find out that Frank has also set Katherine's coffin on fire, destroying her.

Cast[edit]

Lon Chaney, Jr. plays the part of Count Alucard / Dracula, a part that had previously been portrayed by Bela Lugosi in Universal's 1931 film Dracula.[1] Chaney was previously known for his role as the Larry Talbot / The Wolf Man in The Wolf Man.[2]

Themes[edit]

Son of Dracula dates the original Count Dracula as being destroyed in the 19th century, when the original novel was set.

The following year, the Dracula-related series continued with House of Frankenstein, which starred John Carradine as the original Count Dracula.[3] The famous arrival of Dracula's coffin by train was reprised in the Abbott and Costello film Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).[4]

While Brewster and Lazlo speculate that he might be a descendant of the original Dracula, congruent with the film's title, Katherine tells Frank specifically that Count Alucard is really Dracula himself. However, throughout the film the vampire is referred to as Alucard.

Both the Universal press book and Realart re-release press book state that SON is NOT a continuation of DRACULA and that Alucard is a descendant. Chaney is NOT playing the original DRACULA in spite of what some believe. A Son of Dracula would also be known as Count Dracula too.

This is the first Universal Dracula film to take the Count out of Europe and bring him to America.

Production[edit]

The film was based on the story by Curt Siodmak, which was adapted to the screenplay by Eric Taylor.[5]

Effects[edit]

The film was the first to show on-screen the bat-to-man transformation of a vampire. The effect was the work of special-effects artist John P. Fulton.[6] Fulton was Universal's chief special-effects artist, starting with 1933's The Invisible Man.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Browning, John Edgar; Picart, Caroline Joan (Kay) (April 8, 2009). Draculas, Vampires, and Other Undead Forms: Essays on Gender, Race and Culture (illustrated ed.). Lanham, Maryland, USA: Scarecrow Press. p. 17. ISBN 9780810869233. OCLC 371085890. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ Guiley, Rosemary (2004). The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters. New York City, New York, USA: Infobase Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 9781438130019. OCLC 593218217. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  3. ^ Weaver, Tom; Brunas, Michael; Brunas, John (2007). Universal Horrors: The Studio's Classic Films, 1931-1946 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company. p. 502. ISBN 9780786491506. OCLC 812193275. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  4. ^ Nollen, Scott Allen (January 1, 2009). Abbott and Costello on the Home Front: A Critical Study of the Wartime Films. Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company. p. 152. ISBN 9780786453252. OCLC 431511689. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ Smith, Don G. (May 1, 2004). Lon Chaney, Jr.: Horror Film Star, 1906-1973 (illustrated ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company. p. 89. ISBN 9780786418138. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ Dixon, Wheeler W. (September 1, 2010). A History of Horror (illustrated ed.). New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Rutgers University Press. p. 34. ISBN 9780813547961. OCLC 461324157. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ Miller, Ron (March 1, 2006). Special Effects: An Introduction to Movie Magic (illustrated ed.). Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA: Twenty-First Century Books. p. 25. ISBN 9780761329183. OCLC 60419490. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 

External links[edit]