Monday, October 4, 2010

October Movie Reviews: Dracula's Daughter 1936

Next up for my reviews is one of the firsts of a major trend in horror movies; the sequel (though Bride of Frankenstein (1935) was the first true sequel) . This one is is a sequel of sorts to Dracula. We also get a few other firsts: The angst vampire and the lesbian vampire.


Dracula's Daughter (1936)

Dracula's Daughter is an interesting flick.
This time our hero Van Helsing is up against Countess Marya Zaleska, played by Gloria Holden, who is Dracula's Daughter and also a vampire herself. Like daddy, she also has a taste for pretty girls. Though unlike daddy, Zaleska abhors her state as a vampire. I am reminded of the Marvel Comics, Lilith the Daughter of Dracula (not to mention one of the female victims of this film is a model named Lili). She had a similar relationship with her father and her condition.

The plot is similar to the the Stoker story of Dracula's Guest, or the first part of Dracula. But there is more to that. I like how Zaleska wants to ritually destroy Dracula's body in hopes it will cure her.

The film has it's moments, but in the end it is not as good or memorable as the Lugosi effort, which is of course too bad given where the the female vampire in cinema would take us during the Hammer years and later into the 80's. Zaleska is the spiritual forerunner to Miriam Blalock. Though heavily glossed over with the censors of the 1930's.   I have read reports about this film long ago in the Celluiod Closet, but the reality of film is much for subdued than the reviews claim.  It's subtle, but there is a subtext there. 

There is no Dracula in this one, but we do have Van Helsing.  Something we will see again with Hammer and "The Brides of Dracula".  

As a monster you end up feeling sorry for Zaleska more than anything.  Holden has a why of making you feel like she is the victim here.  Mind you that doesn't stop her from mistreating her servant (to her ultimate demise) or attaking the young couple, there is a quality about.  She actually reminds me a bit of Betty Davis here.  Smoky beauty with a hardened heart.

This biggest issue I think here is the movie is slow, even for the time I think.   I'd love to see a high quality remake with a modern cast. 

Next up. Dracula also had a son.

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