Universal Studios 1931 Dracula and American Xenophobia College
The economic instability which fueled the radical political divisions in America during the 1920s more than set the stage for Universal Studios’ rise to Hollywood powerhouse as the home of horror and monsters; it constructed that stage and defined the message that audiences would receive. Between 1920 and the release of Tod Browning’s version of Dracula in 1931 Americans had borne witness to both the most explosive growth of economic good times it had ever seen as well as the disappearance of those good times in the blink of an eye. Almost forgotten in the wake of the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression already in full swing by the time Bela Lugosi’s urbane vampire hit screens across the country was that the values of America during this period was one marked by increasing fear of a Bolshevik revolution and the demonization of Eastern European foreigners deemed responsible for introducing anti-capitalist ideas into the heads of American either enjoying the good times or battling the bad times too much to notice. The monsters of the Universal Studios horror films of the 1930s—led both figuratively and literally by the character of Count Dracula—are a metaphorical representation that reflect that fear...
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