31 Weeks to Halloween: Dracula's Daughter (1936)
She gives you that weird feeling!
The weekend is here yet again, and with it comes another Universal Monster movie to celebrate here at Soulless Cult; this week, we're checking out Dracula's Daughter, the direct sequel to the iconic Dracula film from 1931. The film is apparently based on a deleted chapter from the Dracula novel written by Bram Stoker, but the film doesn't resemble the novel's contents, so take that as you will. Dracula's Daughter, however, is definitely a very interesting follow-up to the very successful vampire film which saw Bela Lugosi as the legendary Count Dracula. I say interesting because while the film is obviously about the daughter of Dracula, it's worth noting that no Lugosi is to be found anywhere in the film. The film strictly follows his daughter - Countess Marya Zaleska - as she hopes that by destroying the body of Dracula, she would be free of his grip on her life and have a normal life once and for all. When all else fails, the Countess turns to a psychiatrist in hopes that together with her desperate desire to break free from Dracula's influence, she can silence the bloodthirst she bears. Can the Countess escape from the grip Dracula holds on her life, or is she doomed to a life of human hunting and blood drinking forever?!
While the film isn't one of the more popular Universal monsters films from the '30s, it's far from awful; in fact, I found it to be a fun story to follow along to and watch unfold, as the film doesn't feel as linear as last weeks movie did. Countess Marya Zaleska (played by Gloria Holden) - the daughter of the late Dracula - is quite the character that you'll find yourself (in the very least) intrigued, if not mesmerized, by. You will also find humility in the film, as the poor Countess simply wants to end her life of bloodthirst and turn to a life of a normal, everyday woman. Vampires are bad fucking ass, of course, but we sometimes forget the life of guilt and sadness that comes with the immortal bloodthirst you deal with as one of the turned. What transpires after the Countess gives in to the life she was born into is pretty shocking and pretty awesome, especially for a film from the '30s, and it makes for great cinema. The back and forth between the Countess and Dr. Jeffrey Garth, the psychiatrist she seeks companionship from, is a fun relationship you get to see build as he tries to help her. But the evil shit Zaleska pulls - kidnapping his beloved assistant to lure him to Transylvania with the intent on turning him - is ruthless. It's honestly a pretty dark twist I wasn't really expecting for the film but has a great execution and it makes for such great storytelling.
Dracula's Daughter feels like it's the most lighthearted and playful films in the Universal Monsters roster up until it's release. Of the six previous monster films, this one definitely feels like film my mom wouldn't mind watching; while it does have its darker undertones, it's not so much an in-your-face monster flick like Frankenstein or The Invisible Man. Holden's awesome performance as Zaleska - her tone, her facial expressions and demeanor - all make for a truly great film, even if it's not a "monster" movie in the usual sense. Like I said, it's definitely feels like it has a little more humility than the previous films and if that's what you want to see out of a lighthearted horror, Dracula's Daughter is right up your alley. It's worth your time to check out, especially if you're a fan of the gothic/vampire genre of film, it will be a great addition to your collection!