THE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958)
Article #494 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 7-22-2002
Posting date: 12-15-2002
Dracula goes to a small California town and begins his search for new victims.
On the surface, this low-budget vampire story seems nothing more than the basic Dracula story transplanted to California, and on the level of plot, that’s pretty much what it is. But there’s a lot of creativity at work here; the whole movie seems oddly paced, but this ends up making it just seem all the more unsettling. There are also a lot of touches that flesh out the vampire cliches and draw the viewer into the situations; the way that the men getting ready to stake the vampire wait until the rays of sunlight actually start coming over the horizon, the rather startling detail that the vampire’s victims hear his voice talking to them while we viewers don’t hear a thing, and the way the immigration man twiddles his cigarette lighter all fascinate and draw us into the story. The best touch though is Francis Lederer’s performance in the title role; his character has a very natural, offhand old world charm that seems totally unforced and easily explains how he can exude such a fascination over others; it has all the elements of Bela’s performance of Dracula without once feeling like an imitation of Bela, and he is absolutely hypnotic. All of which comes together in a movie that shows just what can be done with thought, care and creativity in lieu of a large budget.