Event Report: “DRACULA” (1931) at the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY!Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
There’s just something truly, unarguably awesome about revisiting the classic Universal Monsters on the big screen. Beyond being able to appreciate these fright favorites in a theatrical setting, there’s also a certain communal magic about watching these golden age genre films with a room filled with like-minded individuals. And thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY, horror hounds had the chance to share that experience in front of one of the most iconic Universal Monster movies: Tod Browning’s DRACULA!
While FANGORIA’s Michael Gingold brings his unique tastes in terror to that very Drafthouse every month for his screening series ‘Prints of Darkness’ (the next of which is going to be Stuart Gordon’s FROM BEYOND), my involvement with this particular event was for something much more personal. Following an incredibly successful promotional screening at the Mile High Horror Film Festival with Daniel Attias’ underrated werewolf flick SILVER BULLET, I reached out to the Drafthouse to see if they’d be interested in hosting a screening presented by my debut book, THE I IN EVIL. Luckily, the Drafthouse found the perfect film to suit the book, which is a satirical self-help book aimed at solving the personal problems of monsters, with DRACULA, a film that redefined and romanticized the vampire mythos.
Yet an even greater stroke of luck was that this writer was not the only person to appreciate the opportunity to see DRACULA on the big screen; the screening was a sell-out, and there will still people asking for tickets mere minutes before the show began. Much to this writer’s surprise, the crowd was incredibly diverse with an even greater showing of younger audience members than the CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON screening from the summer. But above all else, the fact that people would come out to a movie the Saturday before Halloween for a film that was over 80 years old is astounding, and it’s this driven audience that makes me feel as if the Drafthouse will be alive and well even if the multiplexes are empty and barren.
Before the film started, I ran up to the stage to give the film a little introduction and posit how the film would tie-into my book. Rather than do something more in the voice of the book as I did in Denver, I decided to take a more straightforward approach by regaling the audience with information about Tod Browning’s DRACULA, including that Bela Lugosi’s iconic casting was largely due to his offer to work for cheaper than other actors and the unfortunate shadow the film cast on his career. However, I was able to tie that introduction into a small bit about my book (which is now in stores, on Kindle, Nook and Amazon) as well as future horror happenings at the Yonkers Drafthouse before getting the show on the road.
Upon seeing DRACULA on the big screen, there is so much more one can appreciate about the film that one might not in a casual, at-home environment. Whether it be the Browning’s penchant for dark humor in the film or the absolutely stunning set design in almost every scene, there’s something honest and engrossing about seeing DRACULA in the theater, almost as if the Count’s magic had charmed us all. And by the final credit, the audience broke out in applause; despite all of us knowing consciously that the filmmakers were long dead, subconsciously we all knew the film deserved that physical celebration.
Overall, the DRACULA screening proved just how fantastic this classic chiller holds up, and truth be told, I likely would have been in that audience had I not even had a book to promote. With an excellent Drafthouse atmosphere and respectful audience, a genuine horror standby reinvigorated the Halloween spirit in the room and provided us all with an experience that is far too rare nowadays. Although now, despite having seen every Universal Monster movie ten times over in preparation for THE I IN EVIL, having gotten to see two theatrically this year now has this writer jonesing to get in as many as possible in the years to come.