AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Summary View of Movie
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Director: Tod Browning (Dir)
Release Date:   14 Feb 1931
Duration (in mins):  74 or 75
Print this page
Display Movie Detail

Cast: Bela Lugosi  (Count Dracula)
  Helen Chandler  (Mina)
  David Manners  (John Harker)

Summary: English businessman Renfield has a harrowing journey to Transylvania, where he is to arrange a lease of the Carfax Abbey in England for Count Dracula. Unknown to Renfield, Dracula is a centuries-old vampire, who lives off the blood of humans and cannot withstand the light of day. Renfield is greeted at Dracula's castle by Dracula himself, but after he passes out from drinking drugged wine, his host descends upon him to feed on his blood. Renfield, weakened by the attack, and Dracula board an England-bound ship which also carries the coffin in which Dracula sleeps during the day and several coffins filled with his native soil, which is required for his survival. When the ship docks in Whitby Harbor, the entire crew is found dead. Only Dracula and Renfield, who appears to have gone insane, survive. Renfield is installed in Dr. Seward's sanitarium, where the physician studies his strange habit of consuming the blood of small animals. Meanwhile, Dracula drains the blood of the female population of London. One night at the opera, Dracula introduces himself to Dr. Seward and meets his daughter Mina, her fiancĂ©, John Harker, and friend Lucy. Lucy is enchanted by Dracula's romantic manner, and later, Dracula attacks and kills her. German scientist Van Helsing arrives in London to assist Dr. Seward, and correctly assesses the situation. As Carfax Abbey is next to Seward's estate, Dracula has easy access to its occupants, and he takes advantage of his ability to transform himself into a bat to attack his next victim, Mina. However, she does not die immediately, but undergoes a change over several nights. Van Helsing confirms for Seward and Harker that Dracula truly is a vampire when Dracula's reflection does not appear in the mirror of a cigarette box. Meanwhile, Renfield constantly escapes from the hospital as ordered by his master, Dracula. Despite the precautions of Van Helsing to prevent Dracula's entry into Mina's room, he hypnotizes her maid to open the windows to admit him. Mina succumbs to a final bonding with Dracula and becomes a vampire. She confesses to Van Helsing that she has seen Lucy since she was buried, which confirms his suspicions that the "woman in white" who has been attacking young children is Lucy. Dracula tries to hypnotize Van Helsing to force him to do his will, but Van Helsing resists and is saved by his crucifix, upon which Dracula cannot look. Dracula, followed by Renfield, takes Mina to Carfax Abbey, where he plans to make her final transition to vampirism. Van Helsing and John follow Renfield there, but when Dracula discovers their presence, he kills Renfield. Dawn approaches, and when Van Helsing finds Dracula in his coffin, he drives a stake through his heart, killing him for eternity. At the same time that Dracula is killed, Mina is released from her spell. With the horror ended, John and Mina reunite. 

Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Corp.
Production Company: Universal Pictures Corp.
Director: Tod Browning (Dir)
Producer: Carl Laemmle Jr. (Prod)
  E. M. Asher (Assoc prod)
Writer: Garrett Fort (Play script)
  Dudley Murphy (Addl dial)

Subject Major: Death and dying
Subject Minor: Bats
  London (England)
  Romantic rivalry
  Transylvania (Romania)
  Whitby (England)

Display Movie Detail
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.