Manero

Buried History

By: Joel Marino

The traditional vampire. Thanks to movies, we know how to spot one. He’s mysterious. He’s sexy. And most importantly, he has a thick Mexican accent.

Okay, maybe not, but that’s what could’ve been had a spectacular 1931 horror film called Drácula caught on. Instead, the film disappeared for decades and was nearly forgotten... until now. 

The flick is a Spanish-language version of the classic Universal Pictures’ Dracula, the one with Bela Lugosi hamming it up as the count. It was filmed by a Mexican cast and crew consecutively with the Lugosi film, though modern critics agree that (besides the accented “a”) there’s one key difference: the Latino version is much, much better.

Chalk it up to sex appeal and special effects. Unlike its more staid, deathly dull counterpart, the Spanish version wasn’t afraid to experiment both with the female leads’ wardrobes and the camerawork. That means an old black-and-white film that’s surprisingly full of plunging V-necks and remarkable moving shots.

But the film was thought lost for years, meaning the English-language edition became Hollywood’s go-to vampire template. A print was rediscovered in the ’70s, but it never received its own release—we could only find it tacked on as an extra to the American version, most recently in a 2012 collection of Universal monster movies

Which is a pity, as this superior version of a Hollywood classic deserves its own place in history. In other words, Universal needs to show this vampire the light of day.

Joel Marino is a NYC-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys traveling and saying “I told you so” as much as possible. When not writing, he spends his time on a never-ending quest to find the perfect empanada.