Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
Sequel: Bride of Frankenstein, the sequel to Frankenstein, is one of the best Universal Monster movies. It takes the themes and ideas of the original and expands them out, focusing on humanising the Monster and digging into the idea of what Doctor Frankenstein could have become without the steadying hand of his fiancée to keep him from turning into the villainous Doctor Pretorius. Dracula’s Daughter is the complete opposite of that. It is leadenly paced, boring, has unlikable characters, can’t commit to a plot, and trades in atmosphere for unfunny comedy.
Story: Beginning in the moments after Dracula ended with police coming across Van Helsing after he has staked Dracula (but now we’re in the 1930s rather than Victorian England for some reason), Dracula’s Daughter seems like it is going to be a movie about Van Helsing on trial for murder and the drama that goes with that. But then, once Van Helsing has summoned his student Jeffrey Garth to help him, the plot shifts to Garth meeting the mysterious Marya Zaleska. Now, Zaleska should be a fascinating character. She appears in the movie burning Dracula’s body and declaring herself free from vampirism, a statement that turns out to have no basis when she has to go out hunting for blood again. Finding out that Garth is a psychologist she asks him the best way to defeat her addiction and, again, this should be an interesting plot but it, again, doesn’t go anywhere. The movie is shapeless in that way. Plots appear and vanish. There is a sort of love story between Garth and his secretary that has them talking in sub-par His Girl Friday dialogue, but the fact that Garth is one of the most unlikable characters ever committed to celluloid renders that love story more like two people who hate each other arguing rather than two people who are secretly in love bantering.
The movie also has no villain. Zaleska is the vampire but she is a reluctant villain and her manservant, Sandor, who is a baddie isn’t in the movie enough. If they want Zaleska to be a sympathetic character they need to give her an Ygor-type character to do truly wicked deeds, rather than her being a baddie who feels bad about it and him being a baddie who doesn’t do anything.
Overall: An utterly nothing movie. It’s simply a series of scenes in which Zaleska looks anguished and Garth is a prick to someone. There’s no point to Van Helsing being in this movie as he doesn’t do anything, and you can’t call your movie Dracula’s Daughter and then have a musical sting when the only vampire in the movie reveals that Dracula is her father. After the atmospheric feast of Dracula this lifeless movie is a disappointment.
Featured Image: Universal Pictures