Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

Posted: August 6, 2011 in Movie Review
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Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

Directed By: Lambert Hillyer

Starring: Gloria Holden, Otto Krueger, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan, Gilbert Emery

Subgenre: Vampires

draculas_daughter

Synopsis: Picking up right where Dracula left off, we find Van Helsing trying to explain why he destroyed Dracula.  Countess Marya Zaleska, Dracula’s Daughter, soon shows up to destroy the remains of Dracula in an attempt to break her curse.  When this doesn’t work, she turns to Dr. Jeffrey Garth, a psychologist to help her break the curse. 

Thoughts: While Dracula’s Daughter was initially set to be based on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula’s Guest” it went through so many changes in preproduction that it has very little in common with the story.  While it was not as successful as Dracula in the theatres, it did do well with the critics.  It’s an effective story with a great vampire, portrayed by Gloria Holden.  I’ve read that Holden was not happy about being assigned to a horror movie, but in the end, that may have helped her portrayal of a vampire that hated being a vampire.  Self-loathing seemed to work well for her.

It’s not a stretch to see the obvious lesbian tones in Dracula’s Daughter, but believe it or not, earlier versions of the script contained even more, as well as scenes from Zaleska’s bedroom showing several whips and leather restraints.  Pretty damn spicy for the 30s!

I really liked this sequel, not nearly as much as The Bride of Frankenstein, but it was still a pretty great sequel to Dracula.  It takes the story in a different direction, while still tying to the original.  The only returning player is Van Helsing and a wax bust of Lugosi in the coffin.  The acting is superb, and there is real chemistry between Holden, Krueger and Churchill.  The romance angle is not overdone, but is still very prevalent in the story.

James Whale was set to direct this sequel, hot off the success of Bride, but he was hesitant to do back to back horror movies.  The job went to Lambert Hillyer instead.  While he did a pretty great job, it would have been interesting to see what Whale would have done with it.  Hillyer would not direct much after Daughter, but it is worth noting that he did direct the 1943 Batman serials.

This is well worth seeing for fans of the Universal classics and it probably doesn’t get the credit it deserves.  While it’s not up there with the greats, it is a pretty good movie.  Check it out!

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