How did I never notice this before? There’s this big honkin’ ugly piece of cardboard in Universal’s 1931 classic DRACULA. It’s attached to a lamp. I can only figure that I was so focused on Bela Lugosi as the titular vampire Count that I never saw anything else. Except for the armadillos. I did see the armadillos. Even as a little boy, watching DRACULA for the first time, I remember wondering why there were armadillos in Dracula’s castle. It’s just like with NOSFERATU and the hyena. Why did Graf Orlock transform into a hyena instead of a traditional wolf? Or if that wasn’t Graf Orlock in disguise, why would there be a wild hyena running around loose in the German countryside?
Anyway, the cardboard. It wasn’t a prank, something some stagehand taped onto the lamp and nobody noticed it and it ended up immortalized in film. It turns out the piece of cardboard is actually mentioned in the script. It’s supposed to be there. The nurse puts it in place to shield Mina’s eyes from the brightness of the lamp. The reason we keep seeing it with no explanation as to why it is there is due to mistakes made in editing. We don’t see the nurse putting it in place. The real question, though, to my mind, is, couldn’t they have found something that looked better onscreen than a ratty old piece of cardboard? Perhaps there is something magical about that cardboard, a secret shared by only it and Dracula himself?