One from the to watch pile…
Brides of Dracula (1960)
Film: I have always been a champion of Hammer Horror films. I prefer them over the Universal ones just because in general I find them more compelling; still melodramatic, but more compelling.
This film, The Brides of Dracula, stands out in amongst Hammer’s Dracula films for the sole reason that it doesn’t feature Dracula in it at all. Sure there is a vampire with a bevy of evil she-demons at his hand, but no actual Count Dracula!
Don’t worry though, Van Helsing still turns up!
Schoolteacher Marianne Danielle (Yvonne Monlaur) has found herself abandoned by her horseman in a small town whilst on her way to her new post at a school for young ladies. Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) offers to take her in overnight seeing as how the local boarding house has no rooms available.
The problem with the Baroness’ manor though is that she has her son, Baron Meinster (David Peel) chained up in a room. Marianne takes pity on his interment and steals a key so that he may be freed, but then she finds the horrible truth about the baron… he is a vampire!
She runs away from the castle, only to be luckily found by a certain Dr Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), who is continuing his journey across Europe, executing the undead wherever he finds them.
Even though the slick of this Bluray claims that this film has ‘some of the best acting, photography and period detail of the Hammer Dracula series’, I honestly don’t see it. I found it to be staged, melodramatic and overwrought and difficult to remain engaged with it.
The whole process of the story seems to take far to long to sell to the viewer, and unfortunately, I didn’t find Peel’s vampire to be very threatening at all. In actual fact, he appears more like Rocky from The Rocky Horror Picture Show than a threatening undead figure.
The film has several examples of Hammer glamour in it though. Yvonne Monlaur is exquisitely beautiful, and is juxtaposed nicely by Andree Melly’s unusual fairy-ish looks.
One weird thing I notice about this film is the soundtrack’ I almost get a Friday the 13th vibe off it. It’s possibly just me, but I just hear elements of the score in there.
All in all it’s not an awful film, it’s just somewhat of a trial to get through.
Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian region B bluray release which runs for approximately 85 minutes. The 16×9 image is bright but grainy (with an odd artefact) to the point of distraction. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is pretty good though.
Extras: Only a trailer for the film.
WISIA: The film is extraordinarily slow and the 85 minutes it runs for feels like 3 days, and I won’t have 3 days to waste ever again.
Great observation about the Baron not being “very threatening.” He’s no Christopher Lee.
One reason I like Hammer Horror films is there is a literary quality to the dialogue.
One plot element that confused me in The Brides of Dracula is the man who hitched a ride on the coach. He goes into the Inn and frightens everyone, but we never see him again.
I wrote a short post on The Brides of Dracula (1960) called “Three Traits of a Naive Person.” If you would like to read it, I am open to any feedback: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2017/05/06/the-brides-of-dracula/
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