DRACULA’S DAUGHTER – The Dungeon Review!
Dracula’s Daughter is the Sequel to the 1931 film ‘Dracula’. We begin where the first film ended. Renfield is dead by Dracula’s hand. Van Helsing, believing Dracula to be a vampire, has put a stake through his heart. Constables from Scotland Yard ascend on Dracula’s property and find the two bodies along with Van Helsing, who openly admits to killing Dracula. Van Helsing repeats his incredulous story of Vampires down at the station. He is warned in no uncertain terms that he will be charged with murder and sent to the gallows, or at least locked up in a mental hospital. Instead of seeking the counsel of a good lawyer he calls upon one of his former students of psychiatry, Dr. Jeffrey Garth. While at a party, Garth meets a painter named Countess Marya Zaleska. She believes that with Dr. Garth’s influence, she can overcome her dark tendencies. Little does Garth know that this chance meeting with the Countess will provide proof to Van Helsing’s theory, that vampires really do exist.
The atmosphere of ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ feels much different in comparison to ‘Dracula’. ‘Daughter’ has a much lighter feel, with a heavy use of comedy throughout. Comedy that doesn’t really work all that well. There are inept constables, and a crotchety captain, but most of the humour comes from the character’s Jeffrey Garth and his assistant Janet. Dr. Jeffrey Garth I’ve already mentioned, but Janet isn’t really integral to the story until the last 15 minutes or so of the film. The two are obviously attracted to one another, but they fight it by playfully insulting each other. These two were just a little “too cute” for me. I got tired of their interaction early. I couldn’t figure out what Janet found attractive about Jeffrey. He is an uptight, often abrupt, ordinary looking man that seemed to have a few years on her.
Let’s face it, the best part of any horror film is the villain. ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ features a most intriguing villainess. Countess Marya Zaleska is a rather tragic figure, who actually wishes to be rid of her vampire curse. In an attempt to do so, she steals Dracula’s body from the morgue and burns it. Her manservant Sandor, takes great joy in the failure of the ritual, and that his Countess remains unchanged. This is a great, moody scene. In fact, all the scenes featuring the Countess and Sandor are excellent. The countess is a talented artist. It is through a wealthy socialite who purchased her work that she is afforded a chance to meet Dr. Jeffrey Garth. She is so desperate to be rid of her curse that she is willing to turn to psychiatry for help. It seemed like every scene these two have together involves Garth having to leave the room suddenly. The two seem to get very little accomplished in their scenes together. Sandor and the Countess however have fascinating exchanges about immortality and loneliness, among other things. In one of my favourite scenes in the film, Sandor finds a young woman willing to model for a painting. The Countess attempts to control her urges, on the counsel of Dr. Garth. She asks the woman to remove her top so her shoulders and neck are exposed. She offers the obviously nervous woman a glass of wine. Everything in her is pushing her to taste the fresh, warm blood pulsing through the young woman’s veins. A truly fantastic scene! I’m sure this scene must have been considered quite racy at the time. Countess Zaleska is an elegant and exotic woman who is a fascination to behold. She wears a massive jewelled ring, which she uses to mesmerize her victims. Gloria Holden is outstanding as Countess Marya Zaleska, as is Irving Pichel who plays her faithful manservant Sandor. It is truly a shame these two don’t get more screen time.
The only actor from the original film that signed on for ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ was Edward Van Sloan who reprises his role as Van Helsing. Although he opens the film, his character is considerably less relevant in this film. The film felt a bit sloppy as a sequel, the humour felt dated and lesser characters get too much screen time. ‘Dracula’ was definitely the superior film in my opinion. ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ is flawed, but it does have enough moments of greatness that make it worth a look. Recommended.
Dungeon Rating: 3/5
Directed By: Lambert Hillyer
Starring: Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan, Gilbert Emery, Irving Pichel, Halliwell Hobbes, Billy Bevan, Nan Grey, Hedda Hopper