Son of Dracula Blu-ray Review

The Nice Kid

“We’re sensible people,” says Frank Stanley (Robert Paige) to his lover. Sensible in this context means a religious devout. His fiancee Katherine (Louise Allbritton) carries a fascination with the occult and visits with a mystic. That’s not sensible in this mid-’40s time. Before its conclusion, Son of Dracula will suggest an attraction to the unholy is cause for eternal torment. Subtle this movie is not.

Son of Dracula does not completely let go of the sensuous undertones evident in Dracula and Dracula’s Daughter. However, the depression of sexuality gives Son of Dracula a routine story. The focus here lies more on religious connotations – Dracula a figment of pure evil who latches onto Katherine’s bias toward morbidity to lure her into evil. He’s nothing less than an image of Satan.

Unfortunately, this Dracula is composed by Lon Chaney Jr. While a monster icon, his only stint as Dracula (or Alucard) hinges to the actor’s gentle, kindly qualities. He’s an absolute gentlemen, even as he chokes victims in front of a fire. Chaney lacks presence, his mannerisms dull, and his ability to generate fear nominal at best.

Mood is there, if not the performances to support it

Universal’s third Dracula needs a kick from somewhere. Although Allbritton is, at times, absolutely chilling as a women under a spell, Son of Dracula too quickly falls to trops. Screenwriter Eric Taylor pens a redundant film that sees investigators baffled by the vampire in their midst. There’s no Van Helsing counter-force this time, rather two scientists who deconstruct the plot in long-winded exposition. Son of Dracula traces the lore again without reinvention.

At least the looming style returns. Son of Dracula covers itself in foreboding shadows with eerie lighting schemes. Mood is there, if not the performances to support it. Without an alluring castle to draw from, Son of Dracula uses a long-standing plantation and swamp, with some dire American history behind the setting. While the lack of Transylvania stings the popular side of Dracula’s myth, the southern states carry factual weight.

While aiming for a mood piece, it’s soon clear this 1943 offering is out of energy. That goes for a majority of the late golden era Universal monster pics. Barred by censorship, there’s little left to explore in Dracula’s lore outside of sensuality or more explicit violence. Son of Dracula becomes caught in a time barrier, neither exciting enough nor lurid enough. It’s purely a story of its era, placid entertainment for wartime escapism.

Video

Quite gorgeous, this B-tier outing is given the A-treatment on Blu-ray. There’s plenty to like here. First is a notable contrast, giving Son of Dracula outstanding oomph in terms of depth. Deep shadows only miss pure black on occasion. Generally, the screen is covered with rich, dense black where needed.

The scan is sharp, even finding some facial definition in an era where such a thing is/was rare. High resolution materials pull out exquisite fine detail in surrounding swamp land, with a bevy of plant life. Scenery looks exotic.

Then comes a typically well resolved grain. Excuse some mosquito noise; that’s evident against darker backgrounds and high contrast edges. The rest is perky and pinpoint, from a print in grand condition. Light filtering is apparent in small bunches, if not enough to knock Son of Dracula from the upper tier of Universal’s monster collection.

Audio

Afforded a DTS-HD track, uncompressed audio allows a pleasing score to pass through freely. Sharpness in the highs and clarity from the lows make for a well mastered pairing.

All dialog renders cleanly, with a natural sense of aging.

Extras

Just a trailer as Son of Dracula shares a disc with Dracula’s Daughter.

Son of Dracula
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

With Lon Chaney Jr. miscast as Dracula and a redundant storyline, Son of Dracula is a weak spot in the Universal Monsters canon.

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