Director: Tod Browning
Granted... It's one of the very first Dracula-adaptations ever made, and it gave us the wonderful Bela Lugosi who delivers a truly marvellous performance as sexy-AND-uncanny Count which turned him into a movie star overnight.
Dafuq? Tod Browning's "Dracula" wasn't an adaptation of Bram Stoker's cult novel, but of an 1924 stage play - one of many reasons why this movie doesn't work anymore nowadays. It sure has worked back then (when people went to the theatre because they had nothing else to go) with Lugosi scaring the shit out of the audiences, but seeing it today is just immensely underwhelming. There's absolutely nothing scary, nothing tense, nothing suspenseful, just a few hints of atmosphere and eerieness, some great settings and a truly cool Lugosi in the first third of the movie. The rest ranges from unintentionally hilarious (worst bat special effects ever) to unbelievably boring with actors delivering performances that range from okay to really stilted and ridiculously terrible. It's a chore sitting through it. I tried it three times: I watched the original version (boring), the German dubbed version (even more boring) and the version with the new Philip Glass score (even though the music is good, it's not able to make the movie any better). None of them worked for me.
And, no, it's not that I'm an ignorant prick who gives a shit about classic horror. I like a lot of movies from back then, the old "Frankenstein" movies, "The Mummy", "The Wolf Man", "Dr. Caligari", "The Hands of Orlac", "White Zombie" etc. They all work perfectly for me - but not "Dracula". How this dullfest is still considered as one of the greatest horror classics of all time... I don't understand it. Okay, I totally get its impact and its influence on cinema and horror/vampire/Dracula movies, but that totally doesn't make it a good movie.
To Quote... Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"The bulk of the film, as much as the last two-thirds, feels exactly like what happens when you put a film camera on a theatrical stage to record a live play. Considering that this is frequently cited as the film linking German horror cinema with American horror cinema (...), it is peculiar and frustrating that the adjective which best describes it is 'uncinematic'.
(...) Almost from the moment that Dracula exits the ship and walks into the Royal Albert Hall, Dracula becomes a crushing bore, not just visually uninspired, but crippled with a barely functional screenplay. Nearly all of the film takes place in the home of Dr. Seward (...) where Dracula has set up his new home, and for a solid 40 minutes, exactly nothing happens. (...)
There's precious little to like about Dracula. Nothing I can do would make the least dent in its historic position - rightfully so, and I do not wish to take away its awesome influence - but there are very few films I can name for which the sniffy phrase 'of historical interest only' has been more dreadfully accurate."
Brian Welk, The Sanity Clause
"(...) The film is horribly dated and overrated. It's a much maligned classic that is beyond cheesy and feels long even at 75 minutes. (...) Hell, Ed Wood could've directed Lugosi in a remake of Dracula. Maybe it would've even been good."
David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
"(...) Dracula is, by and large, unable to sustain the viewer's attention or interest for more than a few minutes at a time and it's clear that the movie simply doesn't hold up terribly well all these years later."
Better: You want an old-era Dracula film that is actually good and not that dated? Watch "Nosferatu" (1922). Although it's a silent film and was made 10 years earlier, it's so much better than "Dracula". It's terrifically directed, very well paced and stunningly built. It's creepy, atmosheric and really tense from start to finish, and... as much as I like Lugosi, but he is nothing compared to the bafflingly intense performance by Max Schreck. Simply wow!