Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dracula's Daughter (1936)

Fear 1/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 3/5

I might get flung some doo doo in my direction for never having seen this film before, but after doing so, I can firmly say this is one of the best vampire films ever made and its almost better than its predecessor. 'Blasphemy!' you might say. Lemme essplain.

The film picks up right after Professor Van Helsing has driven a stake into the heart of Count Dracula, seemingly ending the threat to the fine folks of London. Scotland yard arrives on the scene, and Van Helsing is arrested despite claims of this not being a normal man. He's told to stop talking all crazy-like and is arrested for murder.

The body of the Count is taken to a holding cell at the local jail and its to be held there until proper disposal plans can be made. That plan doesn't last long as a mysterious woman enters the station and casts a spell on one of the guards. The body is stolen and taken out to the woods where its then ceremoniously burned. You see, the woman is in fact the daughter of Dracula and she believes that by burning his body she will be fully relieved of his curse. Namely, that of the blood sucking affliction which she is desperately trying to rid herself of.

The Countess called Zyleska (played in mesmerizing fashion by Gloria Holden) then crashes the party of the local psychiatrist and his group of friends. Revealed as an artist and jokingly told of a friend's dislike of her work, the female co-host offers the Countess a glass of wine. She so geniously replies 'Thank you. I never drink.....wine'.

The Countess builds a quick relationship with the psychiatrist and as the film progresses, so too does the strong sexual undertones that exist between the both of them. One evening, she laments to him about being under the continued spell of something other wordly and begs for his assistance in breaking her addiction. He advises her to deal with it head-on, in the same fashion that one would would treat other addictions. Essentially, confront the craving and bury the urge to act upon it.

She does so, having her faithful man servant pick up a female walking the streets that night, offering her a place to stay and some food in exchange for her posing for his master's work. The temptation proves too much for the Countess and her actions lead to the young girl landing in the hospital and eventually, she dies. The psychiatrist figures out that the Countess had a hand in the death and follows her as she returns to her native homeland of Transylvania with his girlfriend, spellbound and in tow. In the film's finale, she offers the return of his girlfriend in exchange for his life, serving as her eternal lover, forever plagued by the same affliction.

Amazing set pieces like its forebearer, along with some great atmospherics, makes Dracula's Daughter just as successful in setting both mood and tone. But the real star of the film is Gloria Holden. Incredibly beautiful and attention grabbing in every scene that she's in, she carries the movie with grace, style and with a tragic sense of purpose. Save for a fairly lackluster ending, this film is just as good, if not better, than Dracula.

Cortez the Killer

1 comment:

Al Bruno III said...

I didn't end up seeing this film until the last decade or so as well. It is a great film but I feel that it is Gloria Holden's performance that makes it so.

Much like Lugosi's Dracula in that respect.