Prof. Van Helsing is in danger of prosecution for the murder of Dracula...until a hypnotic woman steals the Count's body and cremates it. Bloodless corpses start appearing in London again, and Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska seeks the aid of Jeffrey Garth, psychiatrist, in freeing herself of a mysterious evil influence. The scene changes from foggy London back to that eerie road to the Borgo Pass... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Eerie and groundbreaking film, weighed down by silly humor
"Dracula's Daughter" is a trailblazer in many respects. It's the earliest film I can think of that features a truly sympathetic vampire protagonist. It's also the earliest mainstream film that I'm aware of with such a strong lesbian subtext. (Actually, it's not even a "sub" text, it's plain as day!) As you might expect, these rather surprising elements make it a highly memorable viewing experience - perhaps even more memorable than its predecessor, Lugosi's "Dracula," which is basically just a truncated version of Bram Stoker's novel.
Unfortunately, "Dracula's Daughter" misses the mark of greatness that it probably deserves. The film is only about an hour and ten minutes long, so there isn't sufficient time to fully develop Countess Zaleska, the title character. And it's extremely frustrating that the first fifteen minutes or so are basically squandered on a lot of painfully unfunny business involving two comedy constables. The humor has aged really, really badly, unless you somehow find it convulsively hilarious when one of the constables reacts to every strange and dramatic happening around him by saying "oooh..."
I tend to complain that modern-day horror features too much dumb comedy that hurts its credibility, but "Dracula's Daughter" is living proof that studios were injecting silly rubbish into otherwise good horror material as long as seventy years ago!
The serious parts of the film work well, however. Countess Zaleska and her faithful servant, Sandor, have some interesting exchanges about the loneliness of immortality and the darkness of the vampire's universe. The scene when Zaleska burns her father's body is also very moody and dramatic. (How does one get a job like Sandor's, anyway? Don't you think it would be fun to play personal servant to a glamorous female vampire? No? Maybe it's just me, then.)
If the film has another flaw, aside from the comedy, it's the human protagonist, Dr. Garth. Otto Kruger plays the character as stubborn and really rather abrupt. He'll spew a few lines of psycho-babble at the countess, then charge out of the room and leave his job with her half-done at best. A more attentive psychiatrist might perhaps have made for a more sympathetic and proactive hero. As it is, he's basically just an irritating presence who distracts us from the "villains," who are infinitely more interesting and more worthy of our time.
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