Spanish Language Dracula at the Byrd

George Melford's "Dracula" plays this afternoon with Gary Lucas providing live accompaniment!

The James River Film Festival’s world of wonders continues this afternoon, as guitarist Gary Lucas provides live accompaniment to George Melford’s Dracula, aka “The Spanish Language Dracula“. (Today at 4:00 at the Byrd Theater in Richmond.)

What does that mean, anyway? So what if they made a version of Dracula in Spanish? Well, this is significant because Universal studios was trying to make films to conquer the growing Spanish language market, and hit on the idea of shooting Lugosi’s Dracula during the day, and then having another one shot at night–and not simply dubbed in Spanish, but reworked, reimagined. Thus, this weirder, stranger, lustier Dracula was born.

In this version of Dracula (and thanks to an L. A. Weekly article for help–there’s virtually nothing about this film anywhere) the evil monster Conde Dracula (Carlos Villarias) stalks around London, wreaking havoc. Here, a solicitor Renfield (Pablo Alvarez) and a beautiful woman, Mina (Eva Tovar) are pursued by the creature of the night. This Dracula is longer, with, as I’ve come to understand it, more scantily clad ladies and a more creepy, devilish feel than the original.  Though they’re few and far between, most reviews suggest this is the better of the two Draculas.

The movie has some sound, some dialogue, but guitarist Gary Lucas has conceived of a bluesy soundtrack to accompany the film–and much of it is improvised. Lucas, you may know, is a Grammy-award winning guitarist, who worked with Captain Beefheart in the Reagan years. He had a band called Gods and Monsters which played with Jeff Buckley. He’s toured extensively with this movie and The Golem, another obscure horror classic.

You have few opportunities like this in your lifetime, film fans. This is one of the supreme joys of the James River Film Festival–seeing something entirely new, live, in a beautiful environment and with lots of great people. See you there!

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