Soundtrack Review: Dracula (1931)
Dracula Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score Dracula by Philip Glass & Kronos Quartet.
At a glance:
Geek Score: 87.7
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 28.1
Album Excellence: 42%
Dracula is a 1931 American vampire horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler & David Manners. The dashing, mysterious Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), after hypnotizing a British soldier, Renfield (Dwight Frye), into his mindless slave, travels to London and takes up residence in an old castle. Soon Dracula begins to wreak havoc, sucking the blood of young women and turning them into vampires. When he sets his sights on Mina (Helen Chandler), the daughter of a prominent doctor, vampire-hunter Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) is enlisted to put a stop to the count’s never-ending bloodlust. The score is composed by Philip Glass.
In the late 90s, Universal Pictures approached Philip Glass to compose a score this classic film which doesn’t have a score of it’s own. This was score originally issued in 1998, but I guess it’s long out of stock as it’s being re-issued just in time for Halloween this year. It’s an interesting undertaking because how do you create music from a film released in 1931? You can’t make it like you would today, but it would be silly to create music like you would in 1931 anyway with all the new technological advances. The score opens with the title cue ‘Dracula’, and a strong and dramatic string quartet is all that is needed to create a mood of terror and suspense. Glass has always loved minimalistic music and this certainly fits, even though the music is quite dramatic and thanks to Kronos Quartet, the strings sounds terrific. I love the little two note motif and the swirling underscore. John Williams and Wojchiech Kilar’s versions of Dracula had a similar kind of motif for their versions. ‘Journey To The Inn’ is just as dramatic, but without the power of the opening cue which makes it less interesting.
I have to think about the actual film though, because again, this is such a strange thing, to have a modern composer create music for film that’s almost 70 years old (at the time). I don’t think you will have much enjoyment of this score if you think of it as a modern score. What you will get here though is a string quartet playing dramatic, but not overly so, music in a way that would have made sense for the original film to use. Personally I do love it when the drama is emphasised and given some extra play time such as in ‘The Crypt’ and ‘Carriage Without A Driver’. In this case, I’m definitely a drama queen. The more quieter parts (which there are quite a bit) are really good as well, but my heart pumps extra hard for that “over the top” moment sprinkled in here and there. This is a really good score though, not a single weak cue, all is to be enjoyed, preferably with the movie. I have no idea and should probably have done some research, but I hope that there’s a version of this movie I can stream somewhere with Glass’ score attached to it. That would be a thrill. Until then, we’ll have the score to enjoy and it’s a no-brainer, a would-be piece of history that needs to be devoured. Go get it!
4. The Crypt
5. Carriage Without A Driver
8. Excellent, Mr. Renfield
10. The Storm
19. Dracula Enters
23. Dr. Van Helsing and Dracula
24. Mina On The Terrace
25. Mina’s Bedroom / The Abbey
26. The End Of Dracula