31 Weeks to Halloween: Son of Dracula (1943)
The horror that is DRACULA returns... to terrify a countryside... to curse and destroy even what it loves!
As of today, we're officially eighteen weeks into our 31 Weeks to Halloween countdown, and I was super stoked to check out this weeks movie: Son of Dracula from 1943! Eighteen weeks in, and we've only seen two Dracula movies so far, those being the classic Lugosi Dracula film and Dracula's Daughter, which looking back at it now, is one of the more drab films in the Universal Monsters series so up until this point compared to some of the other unbelievably fantastic films we've seen since. So it feels like it's about damn time we got around to another Dracula film, so Son of Dracula is a welcomed viewing this weekend! Judging by the name of the film, you can probably already guess the whole basis for the film already, but I can assure you the film is a very entertaining and well written story that is worth your time, no doubt! The story was written by Curt Siodmak (who was also responsible for The Wolf Man) and the film was directed by his brother Robert Siodmak - and for the part of Count Alucard, Dracula's son, the studio brought in none other than Lon Chaney, Jr! With a great team behind them, the studio put together a fun film that takes their vampire storyline a step further as Alucard works his magic on a young woman and the townsfolk don't know what to make of it! I had a blast watching this one, as there's so many great little elements to it, and I honestly even think it's one of the better sequels in the series as well!
The young and beautiful Katherine Caldwell (Louise Allbritton) is set to marry her long-term boyfriend Frank Stanley (Robert Paige), but after returning from a trip where she met Count Alucard, she invites the Count to leave Hungary and come to the United States. Upon his arrival, a few things happen: Katherine tells Frank she loves Alucard and she intends to marry him, her rich father "mysteriously" dies leaving behind his enormous plantation to her, oh... and Alucard turns Katherine into a vampire after their wedding! Frank attempts to shoot Alucard, but the bullets pass right through him and seemingly hit his long time lover; after handing himself over to the police for the murder, Frank is declared a madman after a doctor confirms he spoke to Katherine after Frank's confession. And from there, things get pretty crazy around the "Dark Oaks" estate, as you could imagine. Will the townsfolk be able to put an end to Alucard's evil, or will he serve as their new master for generations to come?! Find out in... SON OF DRACULA!
Without a doubt, one of the best parts about this entire movie is seeing the on-screen transformation from vampire-to-bat which is the first time you ever see that on film. Alucard (and Katherine) both turn into these fucking adorable little bats who use their ability to fly to their advantage numerous times in the film. For 1943, the bat prop actually looks pretty damn convincing and is definitely a highlight of the movie. The transformations were cleverly done and cleverly placed, making their appearances in the movie extra special. The other thing you see fairly often in this movie is Alucard and Katherine using their ability to turn into a mist to their advantage. If they're not traveling the town in bat form, they're traveling in mist form which obviously isn't nearly as cool, but it's an effective way of getting shit done, I guess. Believe it or not, the film even has a nice little twist to it that is a welcomed change to the classic Universal films. While all of these movies are absolutely amazing, a lot of these early movies can feel pretty linear and predictable. While the twist in Son of Dracula may be slight, it's still something we haven't seen too much of in the series so far.
There's some pretty interesting characters in this movie, but let's keep it real, the only two that are really memorable are the vampires: Alucard and Katherine. And while Katherine has plenty of screen time, it's really Alucard - Dracula spelled backwards - that audiences want to see. Played by the iconic Chaney Jr., Alucard definitely looks nowhere near as sinister and badass as Lugosi as Dracula, but he still has this eerie, unsettling aura around him that makes his appearances totally welcomed. He totally has this creepy way of carrying himself in conversations that is just very suspicious and even uncomfortable. Again, nowhere near as creepy as Lugosi as Dracula in his castle, but still a pretty cool character. His appearances are what make the movie very enjoyable and entertaining. All in all, Son of Dracula is an excellent little spin-off from the main Dracula story - and while it's miles better than its predecessor Dracula's Daughter, it obviously doesn't touch the original film. I'm fairly certain this one will keep you engaged and interested from beginning to end, and the ending will leave you loving this one just as much as I did! Check it out!!!