Dracula’s Daughter | Varied Celluloid

Dracula’s Daughter

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 26 - 2008
Originally written by Prof. Aglaophotis


Plot Outline: Having just defeated no one other than Count Dracula himself, Professor Von Helsing is arrested by the police authorities on accusations of murder. Naturally enough, nobody believes the good-hearted professor, whose stories of vampirism have always been regarded as unfounded superstition. The only person who can prevent Von Helsing from facing prison time and who can defend him in court is Dr. Jeffrey Garth, one of Von Helsing’s former brightest students. The case complicates itself even further when the corpse of Count Dracula, which in the meantime was being detained by the police, mysteriously disappears without a trace. No one could have ever dreamt that it was Dracula’s daughter herself, the Countess Marya Zaleska, who stole the cadaver. Seems that the Countess wanted to make sure that her blood-sucking daddy was really killed after all. After that she cremates his body, Countess Zaleska is fully ready to start a new life; a life without any attachments to her father and completely free of evil and darkness. To her dismay, the Countess however realises that she can’t escape her fate in any way and is doomed to be a vampire for life; or more accurately, for eternity. It is only after hypnotising and assaulting a young woman in her own house that Dr. Garth, who had befriended the Countess at a party, becomes aware of her true origins. And like his mentor Profs. Von Helsing would do, he sets out to stop this evil once and for all. His journey eventually takes him to Transylvania, where Count Dracula once lived, and where his daughter now resides. The final confrontation between Dr. Garth and Dracula’s daughter will decide the fate of all humanity.


  

The Review
Following the success of 1931’s Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, it was only a matter of time before Universal would come up with a sequel to the horror classic. This sequel eventually came out 5 years later, titled Dracula’s Daughter. And by Jove, let me just start by saying that it turned out to be a movie of the highest calibre, completely worthy of being regarded as a continuation to Dracula. I use the word “continuation” because this is what the movie essentially is; its frame of events taking place just seconds after the original (pretty much like the relationship that Halloween 2 has with John Carpenter’s original). Those expecting to see Bela Lugosi again in this sequel will however be disappointed, as the Count makes an appearance approximately totalling 1 whole second (practically it’s just a shot of him lying in his coffin with a stake driven in his heart in the first few minutes of the movie). This time round is Gloria Holden who takes the spotlight and let me tell you, she’s one of the most memorable female vampires ever to grace the big screen in the history of cinema. Her undisputable acting talent, coupled with her very apparent charisma give the right tragic feel to her character. From the very first second that you see her on screen, with her face covered in a veil and her big dark eyes looking menacingly at the cowardly policeman, you’ll know that Holden was born to play this role.

I also have to admit that I’m always a bit wary when coming to review a film which is nearly 70 years old, such as this one right here. The reason for me stating so is that your particular appreciation of such a movie will probably very much depend on your age. I don’t want to sound like a reviewer full of prejudice, but still I must state that younger audiences who are used to endless gore and flashy effects may find this film dull and uninteresting. Of course I’m not saying that every young individual is like that; I myself am 22 years old and love this movie to death. But while many movies can be regarded as timeless classics, that doesn’t mean that they will appeal to everyone. And Dracula’s Daughter, much like its predecessor, takes its time to tell its story. The movie is filled with dialogue and doesn’t have any sort of action, except maybe at the end (if you can call a bloke shooting two arrows with a crossbow action, that is). Naturally enough, this is not to say that the movie is weak. On the contrary, its principle strength lies in its subtle approach to drag us into the story and never let us go until it’s over. One could say that they don’t do movies like this anymore these days, and one would be totally right. It’s laughable and tragic at the same time when you see a movie like Stephen Sommers’ Van Helsing, whose primary objective was supposedly to pay tribute to the Universal monster movies in the first place, turn up to be the exact opposite of these classics. With flashy effects replacing smart dialogue and Dracula himself being very close to a buffoon, Sommers should have just gone and pissed on the graves of Lugosi, Karloff and all the others; and he would have probably insulted them less. A movie like Van Helsing is living proof of the sad state the horror movie industry in Hollywood is facing these days. It seems that no one has the necessary balls to build a horror movie entirely on dialogue and genuine suspense, as Dracula’s Daughter definitely is. So, in essence, for those of you who loved Van Helsing, I recommend you tay away from this movie. You may be shocked to discover that Van Helsing himself is not even a young, acrobatic womaniser equipped with all kinds of high-tech shit, but just a frail old man with thick eyeglasses; and that his first name is not even Gabriel but Abraham. If there is anything in this world that I hate more than vanilla coke, it’s the bastardisation of classic horror icons for the scope of earning a quick buck. Unlike Van Helsing, Dracula’s Daughter is driven by a brilliant screenplay and numerous quotable lines. Particularly noteworthy is Profs. Von Helsing’s speech on the ever-changing relationship between science and superstition, that the superstition of yesterday many times turns out to be the science of today. And who can forget the ever-classic line?: “I never drink… wine” (also used in Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula).

The Conclusion
It’s also particularly important to point out that the screenplay to Dracula’s Daughter is top-notch not only for its memorable quotes but also for its overall theme. This was in fact probably the very first movie which showed a vampire in conflict with her fate. The movie presents a woman who does her best to escape her destiny, in vain. It presents a man, in Profs. Von Helsing, who accepted his fate of devoting his life to destroying vampires to the fullest, but who still has to face serious charges from all the people who refuse to believe him. Lastly, it also presents another man in the form of Dr. Garth who’s still undecided on what his fate consists of. His relationship with his personal assistant is quite confusing; the two of them gave me the impression that they’re undecided on whether they are good friends, two people in love with each other, or just two working partners. It is only at the end when Dr. Garth is driven to an extreme situation where he has to take a literal life-or-death decision. This movie is in fact all about these decisions and their consequent responsibilities. Decisions which shape the very core of our destiny. Decisions which, once taken, cannot be undone. It’s a movie which, apart from being entertaining, provides some serious food for thought. Highly recommended for all serious movie buffs out there (and for all those who hated Van Helsing).


You might also be interested in:

VIDEO

TAGS

Sponsors

About Me

Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

Twitter

    Photos