Director: Terence Fisher
Writers: Jimmy Sangster, Peter Bryan, and Edward Percy
Cast: Peter Cushing, Martita Hunt, Yvonne Monlaur, Freda Jackson, David Peel, Miles Malleson, Henry Oscar, Mona Washbourne, Andree Melly, Victor Brooks, Fred Johnson, Michael Ripper, Norman Pierce, Vera Cook, and Marie Deveruex
Composer: Malcolm Williamson
Release Date: 7/7/1960
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
While staying overnight in a Transylvanian castle, schoolteacher Marianne Danielle (Yvonne Monlaur) helps Baron Meinster (David Peel)—an acolyte of Count Dracula—escape from the shackles that were placed on him by his mother (Martita Hunt). Despite using his freedom to prey on local women, Baron Meinster faces a new problem when Doctor Van Helsing arrives in town.
The Brides of Dracula contains a variety of iconic monster movie tropes: Gothic castles, creepy graveyards, and menacing vampires. Modern audiences may, however, take issue with this film for its dated special effects and illogical story aspects.
Similar to Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, Baron Meinster relies on charm, elegance, and feigned humility in order to manipulate his female victims—in contrast to Christopher Lee’s Dracula, whose limited dialogue and lack of screen presence (especially toward the end of Hammer’s Dracula series) prevents him from ever developing into a nuanced and sophisticated vampire.
Featuring vampires who can transform into animals, this offering may evoke criticism for disregarding the canon of its predecessor. Notably, in the first Dracula film starring Lee, Van Helsing scoffs at the notion of vampires turning into bats, wolves, or other creatures—a rule that, if followed consistently, would allow the Hammer vampires to maintain an air of realism.
In addition to its weak continuity and silly rubber bat props, The Brides of Dracula suffers from the blatant stupidity of its main female character. Ignoring the cautionary words of her hostess, for example, Marianne goes out of her way to free Baron Meinster from his shackles, allowing him to wreak havoc on the entire village—a decision that undermines Marianne as a sympathetic, let alone competent, protagonist.
Depicting vampires as the last remaining members of a pagan, anti-Christian cult, The Brides of Dracula alludes to a spiritual conflict between good and evil forces—an underlying subtext of nearly every supernatural horror film.
Hammer horror fans may enjoy this overlooked Dracula sequel, which benefits from atmospheric sequences and compelling performances—specifically from Peter Cushing and David Peel. Nevertheless, The Brides of Dracula is marred by pacing issues, narrative inconsistencies, and character choices of a problematic nature.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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