February 10th, 2013: Son of Dracula (1943)

Son of Dracula

Cast: Robert Siodmak (Director); Curtis Siodmak (Story); Jack P. Pierce (Make-up); Evelyn Ankers

What It’s About: Count Alucard (Lon Chaney Jr.) travels from Budapest to the Deep South, after meeting Katherine Caldwell, the wealthy scion of the Dark Oaks plantation, in Europe.  What exactly is the connection between the two…and just who is a danger to who?

Why Watch it Today?:  Lon Chaney Jr. was born on this date in 1906.  Chaney, unlike most horror stars, had a hangdog (no pun intended) look about him that generally left him playing damaged people, the cursed, sad sacks and other victims.  The lure of his father’s name (Lon Chaney Sr. is still the most successful horror actor of all time) and the success of his first horror film for Universal, The Wolf Man, lead to a whole series of Universal horror films starring Chaney Jr.  Most of these bury the bulky but not particularly dynamic Chaney under pounds of make-up, but Son of Dracula is an exception.  Taking Chaney’s victim persona as a cue, we get a film that could only be made at the height of the Film Noir period, when the femme fatale reigned supreme not just in crime films, but on radio shows and in pulp novels and comics.  Son of Dracula is not a great horror film, but it is full of atmosphere, shadow, and a femme who is very fatale indeed.  Besides, when else are you going to get to see Dracula lured to his doom by a siren?

Other Choices:  Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein; Bride of the Gorilla; High Noon

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