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In 1989, horror-movie historian David J. Skal discovered the legendary Spanish-language version of the 1931 Dracula in Cuba. Shot at night on the same Universal sets as Tod Browning's classic after, his crew went home for the evening, and using a translated version of the same script, this version features a cast of Mexican and South American actors under the direction of George Melford. When this version was released in 1992 in the U.S. (with subtitles), a small but fervent coterie of fans proclaimed it superior to Tod Browning's original. While practically identical in many ways, Melford creates a more atmospheric set and has his camera prowling though it in key moments, resulting in a more stylish and smooth film. He punctuates scenes with striking compositions and startling close-ups and paces the film more evenly (even though it emerges 30 minutes longer ). Two elements stand out above all. The lovely Lupita Tovar makes a much sexier Mina (named Eva here), signaling her transformation to the dark side by rising from her bed in a low-cut, and very revealing, nightgown, as if displaying her newfound sexual aggressiveness. The film's sole weakness is Carlos Villar's Dracula, who is nowhere near as charismatic as Bela Lugosi. Though his portrayal improves over the course of the film, he never comes close to Lugosi's intensity or aristocratic demeanor. --Sean Axmaker
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