“Ours will be a different life, without material needs — a life that will last for eternity!”
Hungarian Count Alucard (Lon Chaney, Jr.) arrives in the deep south, where he promptly marries an occult-obsessed girl (Louise Allbritton) engaged to her childhood sweetheart (Robert Paige). Meanwhile, the town doctor (Frank Craven) and a psychologist well-versed in vampire lore (J. Edward Bromberg) begin to investigate Alucard’s true identity.
Opinions vary widely on this third entry in Universal Studios’ Dracula franchise (directed by Robert Siodmak), with most critics lambasting it as the worst of the bunch — thanks primarily to the perceived miscasting of Lon Chaney, Jr. in the title role. As DVD Savant argues, he’s “lumbering and chubby”, and “just looks overfed, puffy, and in a bad temper. It doesn’t work for a moment.” With that said, the film remains of minor interest for: a) being the first to portray a Goth girl lusting after eternal life through vampirism (Allbritton is convincing in this pivotal role), and b) essentially turning a standard-issue Universal horror sequel into a film noir, complete with a femme fatale, atmospheric cinematography, plenty of unexpected plot twists, and a poor chump of a guy (Paige is equally convincing) who really doesn’t deserve the roller coaster ride of emotions he’s taken on.
Note: Regardless of how you feel about Chaney’s (mis)casting in this film, it’s interesting to know that (for better or for worse), he was the only actor to portray all four of Universal’s classic monsters.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Robert Paige as Frank
- Louise Allbritton as Kay
- Reasonably effective low-budget special effects
- George Robinson’s atmospheric cinematography
No, though fans of Universal horror films will surely want to check it out.