¡Los hijos de la noche!
While made in the United States, it is one of the classic versions of a story often told in Latin America… in which soulless, amoral being — mistakenly referred to as “person” — transfers the operational centers to a new untapped country with the assistance of misguided elites (who in search of immediate profits ignore the documented dangers and evil intentions of their prospective investors) and then proceed to suck the life out of their hosts.
Conoco? Some Canadian mining outfit? Well… actually, I was thinking of the the Spanish-language version of Carl Lammele Junior’s “Dracula” — which besides being one of the earliest Spanish-language “talkies” (the first Spanish-language film made in the United States) is in some ways better than the version with Bela Lugosi as that human resource investor seeking to maximize his profits and lower costs by moving operations from Transylvania to England.
More “atmospheric”, the Spanish version was filmed at night on the same sets, and using some of the same footage (Bela Lugosi is in the Spanish version, although you only see him from the back), which no doubt put the cast into the proper “vampiric” frame of mind. The slightly different script (by Baltasar Fernández Cué) is conscious of the “over-the-top” style of Spanish dramatics… certainly the script gives more reign to Pablo Álvarez Rubio to chew up the scenery as the barking mad Renfield than would be possible for Dwight Frye in the English-language version.
Oaxaca native Lupita Tovar (“Eva Seward”) — now a centenarian — in an interview about making the Spanish-language Dracula said she and her fellow cast members saw themselves in competition with their English-language counterparts, working not only to make the film better, but also, to make it sexier. Tovar and fellow Mexican Carmen Guerrero (“Lucia”) — who in the silent films had carved out a niche as seductive latinas — chose their own costumes, much more revealing than those worn by Helen Chandler and Frances Dade (“Mina” and “Lucy”) … in good part, because they could, and as . Tovar explained, because unlike the United States, there are not a lot of puritans among Latin American film-goers.
Certainly Ms. Guerrero was more … er… a vamp.. than Ms. Dade. Spaniard Carlos Villar certainly doesn’t have the accent Bela Lugosi brought to his Count Dracula (in reality, the Hungarian actor barely spoke English when he made the film, and learned most of his lines phonetically), but Villar’s Conde Drácula — in the way of Spanish dramatics (i.e., over-stated) — able to deliver the line “Mí casa es su casa” as if it were a death threat (well… it was!), has a menacing charm all his own.