Dracula (1931)

I found a really cool place! And by found, I mean a coworker suggested I check this place out when I told him that I was trying to hit up all the small indie theaters in town. This place was the Old Town Music Hall, a cozy little theater in El Segundo that only plays really old movies. In particular, they’re interested in silent films because they have an old Wurlitzer pipe organ that can be used to accompany the movie. As soon as my buddy told me about this place, I looked expectedly at their October lineup, and while there was no Nosferatu, there was the next best thing: Dracula. As in, Bela Lugosi. Hell. YES.

I made my way over to the town and walked into the venue. I was greeted by SO MANY HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS. Giant ghouls and goblins in every corner (and even some in the seats) made me feel so welcome (honestly, I wanted to move in). Plus I was just excited to see the most iconic vampire flick (you know I love my fangers) on the big screen.

But what ended up being the best part was the pipe organ demonstration. A volunteer came up and explained the history of the venue and the organ. He demoed a few of the different sound effects and listed out the songs he was gonna play. When I’d walked in, I’d expected this giant impressive machine, but only saw this small little one that didn’t look like more than an upright piano. Turns out the rest was behind a curtain. It opened up to reveal some gorgeous neon colored bits and pieces with some little dolls swinging in the center. He began with the Haunted Mansion theme song (!) and I was mesmorized by the instrument. The bright colors and upbeat tones warmed my cold little heart, and I was ready to find any excuse to come back again soon.

After a few songs, a screen came down with some slides for a sing-a-long. I’ll admit it felt a little cheesy since they were such old timey songs, but I get that’s the whole point of it. Following the sing along was a Laurel and Hardy short, The Live Ghost. It was longer than I’d expected, and not really my type of humor. Still, I appreciate the effort to preserve old film, and I love that this kind of thing exists, even if I was mostly anxious to see the main event.

I grabbed a popcorn during intermission and once the opening credits rolled I could not contain my excitement (sidebar: they use the music from Swan Lake?!) Bela Lugosi is beyond legendary and it was such a treat seeing him on the big screen. The film is as classic as its ever been. Sure a few effects don’t hold up (every time the bat showed up he got a few laughs) but it otherwise still works. It’s suspenseful and creepy and there’s a reason he’s endured all these decades.

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