Halloween 2K17: A Review of “Dracula’s Daughter” (1936)

There are some interesting choices present at the beginning of Dracula’s Daughter, which is the direct sequel to the classic Dracula. It picks up right where the previous film left off—literally within minutes. Count Dracula has just been killed by Van Helsing. The body is still warm. The police arrive to find the body of Dracula, and of course, not believing in vampires, arrest Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan reprising his role) for murder. With the body at the morgue after the stake was driven through his heart, Dracula’s daughter (Gloria Holden) shows up wanting to see the body. She uses her captivating powers to get past the guard and steal her father’s body. But once she has it, does she try to resurrect him? Nope. In fact, she does the exact opposite.

This is where a respectable decision came into play. The daughter exorcises the body and burns it. She knows about the vampiric curse her family is under, including herself being prone to lust for human blood. She does not want to feel that way anymore. So after just one movie, Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula is done, never to return again except for a glorified cameo in an Abbott and Costello film. This is something that never would have happened today, or even in the 1970’s for that matter. How many times was Christopher Lee killed over and over and over again? Universal here had a chance to do the same and probably make even more money, but they chose to be done with it and move on. They could not even go down that path with Frankenstein.

Dracula’s Daughter is more of a mystery film than horror, as the police work with a psychiatrist and Van Helsing to track down the daughter and put an end to her. The pace is a lot faster than the original film. It’s not as quiet, and in some regards, it’s a bit more entertaining. Even with the body gone, the daughter still has to fight away the feelings to kill people for their blood. Her sidekick is a gypsy-type who plays to the darkness inside of her, wanting her to stay a vampire and immortal, and to help him achieve the same. For that reason, there’s more complexity to the lead role than Bela Lugosi could ever give. You can thank the writers for that.

As explained on TCM, Dracula was based directly off of a stage play while Dracula’s Daughter was written specifically for the screen. I love the original (who doesn’t?) but there’s more fluidity here. This is a movie. Still, it does not pack much of a punch. It’s eerie and creepy and all those words, but will not chill you quite like Lugosi. There’s something missing, which is why it falls short. TCM said there are a lot of fans out there who feel this is a superior film. I’m not one of them. It gets the job done, but I would not watch it again next October. 6 out of 10 stars.

More Halloween 2K17 posts

Greg’s Paranormal File

Ghosts on the Coast Web-Series

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