NEW YORK — You can't keep a good vampire down.
Back in 1931, horror specialist Tod Browning signed Bela Lugosi to re-create the Dracula role that had made him a Broadway star. This wasn't the first movie based on Bram Stoker's haunting novel - a brilliant German adaptation, "Nosferatu," preceded it - but it sparked a craze for "Dracula" remakes that hasn't died yet.
Produced by Universal Pictures as part of a legendary horror cycle that included "Frankenstein" and "The Invisible Man," this early "Dracula" has risen from the vaults almost as often as the toothy count himself, via theatrical revivals and home video. Now it's back in yet another incarnation that's different from any other. The film's superbly weird acting and cinematography haven't changed, but Universal's new video edition features a freshly written score by Philip Glass, the world-famous minimalist composer.
Glass has contributed his distinctively rhythmic sounds to movies of many kinds, from "The Thin Blue Line" (1988) and "Koyaanisqatsi" (1983) to three Jean Cocteau films that he transformed into mini-operas for the screen.
Taking a different route with "Dracula," he has added his score to the original film, letting the music pulse away behind dialogue and action scenes. This may displease vampire buffs who liked the movie the way Mr. Browning made it, thank you very much; and it may frustrate Glass fans who wish Lugosi & Co. wouldn't chatter during the music passages they want to hear. "Dracula" fans can still purchase un-Glass-ified videocassettes, and Glass admirers can pick up the unadulterated score - played by the feisty Kronos Quartet - on a new CD from Nonesuch.
All of which gives a new layer of meaning to one of the count's most frequently quoted lines. "Listen to them," he says of the wolves yowling melodiously outside his castle. "Children of the night - what music they make!"
*The Kronos Quartet will accompany 'Dracula' in live concert Oct. 26 and 27 as part of the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. The movie with Philip Glass's score is available on a Universal Studios video.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society