Dracula (1931)

Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula, has been plundered time and time again for movie adaptations of varying quality and now seems like a particularly hard-trampled piece of intellectual property. However, back when this version was released on Valentine’s Day 1931 it still seemed fresh, a story with originality and panache —and sex. It’s hard to believe now that in 1931 moviegoers were unfamiliar with vampires and the rules governing their undead existence. To the average moviegoer at this time, a ‘screen vamp’ was a sultry actress, an exotic siren like Theda Bara, Pola Negri, or Olga Baclanova.

Dracula changed all that.
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Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)

“Your wife has a lovely neck”

Perhaps the most terrifying thing about Nosferatu is how close F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece came to being lost forever — like so many other movies of its era. Producers Prana-Film baldly plagiarized Bram Stoker’s Dracula, switching out names and locations and adding a few details, but essentially — and very obviously — lifting their narrative straight from the novel. Stoker’s widow, Florence, who relied on royalties for her income, was understandably furious and ordered all prints destroyed. Thankfully, copies survived.

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