Bela Lugosi never blinks even once throughout the film.
Bela Lugosi played the role of Dracula on Broadway in 1927 before touring the country with the show. The American performance of the British stage actor Hamilton Deane's adaptation of the book was a smashing success. Soon after the play began touring Universal started to express interest in the script.
Bela Lugosi was so desperate to repeat his stage success and play the Count Dracula role for the film version, that he agreed to a contract paying him $500 per week for a seven week shooting schedule, an insultingly small amount even during the days of the Depression.
Edward Van Sloan and Dwight Frye also appeared in the horror classic Frankenstein. They are the only 2 actors to have appeared in both films.
Bette Davis (who had a contract at Universal at the time) was considered to play the part of Mina Harker. However, Universal head Carl Laemmle Jr. didn't think too highly of her sex appeal.
A Spanish-language version, Drácula, was filmed at night on the same set at the same time, with Spanish-speaking actors.
Although he lived for 67 years after the film was released, David Manners (John Harker) claimed he never watched it.
Although it was his most famous role, Bela Lugosi played Dracula only once more on screen, in the comedy Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein. However, he played Dracula-like characters in movies such as The Return of the Vampire and Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Among the other actors mentioned as possible candidates for the role of Count Dracula were John Wray, Paul Muni, Conrad Veidt, Chester Morris, and William Courtenay.
Apparently morose over the loss of friend and collaborator Lon Chaney and in the midst of severe alcoholism, the normally meticulous Tod Browning was said to have been sullen and unprofessional during the shoot. Among his actions were to leave set, leaving cinematographer Karl Freund to direct scenes. He would also recklessly tear pages out of the script if he felt them to be redundant.
Before he was cast as Count Dracula, Bela Lugosi acted as an unpaid intermediary for Universal Pictures in negotiating with the widow of author Bram Stoker in an attempt to persuade her to lower her asking price for the filming rights to the Dracula property. After two months of negotiations, Mrs. Stoker reportedly lowered her price from $200,000 to $60,000. This, however, further demonstrated to Universal how desperate Lugosi was to repeat his stage success as Count Dracula and secure the film role for himself.
Cinematographer Karl Freund achieved the effect of Dracula's hypnotic stare by aiming two pencil-spot-lights into actor Bela Lugosi's eyes.
Due to studio demands to cut costs, the film was shot in sequence.
In the first scene, the young woman reading from the tourist book was played by Carla Laemmle, niece of Carl Laemmle, founder and head of Universal Pictures.
In the scene where Dracula and Renfield are traveling to London by boat, the footage shown is borrowed from a Universal silent film called The Storm Breaker. Silent films were projected at a different frames-per-second speed from that later adopted for sound films, accounting for the jerky movements and quicker-than-normal action of these shots.
John Carradine was among the actors considered for the title role essayed by Lugosi. However, there is no corroborating evidence from that time period, only Carradine's own later testimony. He also claimed to have turned down a makeup test for the Monster in 1931's "Frankenstein, " due to the absence of dialogue. This statement seems to have a greater bearing of truth, as the actor did indeed work at Universal in the late spring-early summer of 1931, on a film titled "Heaven on Earth. "
Part of the original SHOCK THEATER package of 52 Universal titles released to television in 1957,followed a year later with SON OF SHOCK,which added 21 more features.
Several famous elements often associated with Dracula are not visible in this film. At no point does Dracula display fangs. Also, the famous vampire bite mark on the neck is never shown either (though it is visible in the Spanish version).
Similar to the prologue in Frankenstein, the original release featured an epilogue with Edward Van Sloan talking to the audience about what they have just seen. This was removed for the 1936 re-release and is now assumed to be lost.