Renfield (Pablo Alvarez Rubio) journeys to Transylvania by stagecoach. When he mentions that his destination is Castle Dracula, the villagers are frightened. They tell him that Dracula is a vampire and give him a cross to protect him. At the castle, he is welcomed by Dracula (Carlos Villarias). Renfield is drugged and bitten. On the ship taking them to England, Dracula kills the entire crew and only Renfield, now quite insane, is the only survivor.
At the opera, Dracula meets Doctor Seward (José Soriano Viosca), his daughter Eva (Lupita Tovar), and Lucia (Carmen de Guerrero). She becomes Dracula’s victim. Their neighbor, Doctor Van Helsing (Eduardo Arozamena) realizes that Dracula is a vampire. Eva falls under his spell and attacks her fiancé Juan (Barry Norton).
Seward and Harker help Van Helsing trap Dracula, but he escapes to Carfax Abbey with Eva. Dracula kills Renfield, and they find the vampire asleep in his coffin. Van Helsing kills him with a wooden stake in the heart and Harker leaves with Eva.
The film was directed by George Melford, based on Bram Stoker’s novel and the stage play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. It was shot at night on the same sets used for the famous English-language version by Tod Browning. Melford watched the footage every day and then directed his own version. It was released in Cuba in 1931 and then largely forgotten. When a print was found in New Jersey it began to attract attention. It was screened at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1978 and released on home video in 1992.
Carl Laemmle was credited as producer, but it was really produced by 27-year-old Paul Kohner. The screenplay was adapted from the English script by Baltasar Fernandez Cué. It differed from the English release in several ways. It ran for 104 minutes instead of 75, costumes were different, particularly the women’s gowns which tended to show more cleavage, and there was more humor from Renfield’s keeper Martin (Manuel Arbo). The performance of Lupita Tovar as Eva was engaging and sexy.
For many years, several minutes of the film depicting Renfield’s seduction by Dracula’s brides and the horrific voyage to England were missing, until they were found in Cuba and restored. Director Melford did not actually understand Spanish and had an interpreter. In this version, Dracula is seen arising from his coffin. Many consider this one superior to the English version, as the director got to watch the latter’s dailies and then try to top them. It does, however, lack Bela Lugosi’s iconic appearance.