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Dracula's Daughter This cut-rate sequel to Dracula, sans Bela Lugosi, turns out to be an unexpectedly sleek and stylish movie. Gloria Holden, tall, dark, and continental, is the aristocratic title character fighting her nature and seeking a cure for her affliction. A sympathetic psychiatrist, Dr. Garth (Otto Kruger), encourages her to "face her fears," but when she lures a pretty young streetwalker to her room to model for a painting, the temptation of her fleshy offering proves too much to overcome. Edward Van Sloan reprises his role as Van Helsing, held by the police for the murder of Count Dracula (the film opens on the final scene from Dracula) but released in the nick of time to help Garth, now at the mercy of the bitter and vindictive vampire. Director Lambert Hillyer makes the most of his low budget, with austere, angular sets and an almost abstract sense of the foggy city night. Holden's mysterious face and tall, willowy body make her an even more striking vampire than Lugosi, and Irving Pichel's offbeat servant is like an American gangster with the breeding of a European aristocrat: thick and thuggish, but always proper. The script falls into the usual rut of Universal's later horror films, losing the mood in the busy plot, but the smooth style and Holden's dignified performance lift Dracula's Daughter above most Universal sequels. Son of Dracula It was perhaps inevitable that, after playing the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's monster, and the Mummy, Lon Chaney Jr. would round out his horror resumé with a turn at the great bloodsucker himself (not, as the title would suggest, his son). Looking dapper and dignified under the cape, if not exactly threatening, Chaney plays Count Alucard (that's Dracula spelled backwards), a mysterious Carpathian summoned to America by a "morbid" heiress (Louise Allbritton). Eric Taylor's script is rather clunky, but the story (by horror specialist Curt The Wolfman Siodmak) is often quite clever, playing like a supernatural twist on a psycho-thriller. Allbritton's frustrated fiancé Robert Page accidentally "kills" her while trying to shoot Alucard (who imperiously stands up to the hail of bullets) and then goes stark raving mad as he watches the dead rise to life and the living disappear in wisps of smoke and morph into creaky stage bats. Future film noir legend (and Curt's brother) Robert Siodmak (The Killers) does wonders with the swampy, misty Deep South setting despite his obviously threadbare budget, transforming the usual clichés into moments of inspired melodrama. Only the clumsy antics of the skeptical cops and the plodding exposition spouted by an old Carpathian doctor (he just happens to be the local MD) get in the way of this moody minor horror gem.

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MC25454 Dracula's Daughter/Son of Dracula DVD (1943) $14.98 $13.49