Svengoolie presents … lesbian vampires in Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
Picking up right at the end of Dracula (1931), Dracula’s Daughter (1936) leaves much up to the imagination of the audience, which is about as bad as showing it. This movie is the king of the controversial horror B-movies, if there ever was such a thing. I have read that the script was much altered, and originally written to show lesbianism and pleasurable torture. What was filmed was the rewritten version, obviously, and the censors had their way. Today, this film is dated and has silly, silly dialogue, but you can still have fun with it, right?
Only Edward von Sloan returns in this sequel to Dracula (1931), as Professor Von Helsing, and he acts as human exposition to what happened in the original Dracula. Many of the usual vampire tropes do not appear in this film, but many that do appear are presented in different ways. The plot is fairly simple, although with the freshness Gloria Holden brings to the role of Dracula’s daughter, it is quite interesting. She is the first sympathetic vampire, although has angst of her own, but it isn’t teen angst, thank god.
She is sympathetic because she wants to no longer be a vampire. She tries to free herself of the curse by burning the body of Dracula, but it doesn’t work. Why it doesn’t work is never really explained. It is rumored Gloria Holden hated her role as Dracula’s daughter, but it doesn’t show. She gives it her all. Once she discovers her plan for a cure didn’t work, she becomes depressed and angry.
Dracula’s daughter preys upon men and women alike. She socializes with the locals, seemingly presented as an intelligent woman who is more than an equal for anyone she meets. During one scene, the movie alludes to the fact that vampirism might be a trick of the mind, amongst other things. These subtle themes are typical of this film. Don’t get me wrong, the dialogue is terrible to my modern ears, and the middle part of the movie drags like nothing else, but the idea that a psychiatrist would have any influence over a vampire is about as unique as it gets.
Dracula’s daughter decides to relieve her stress by painting, so she tries to recruit a model. Her servant recruits a girl named Lily off the street to pose for a mural, so to speak. And you can see where the script was going, but the character doesn’t undress, only bares her shoulders. CENSORED!
Dracula’s daughter stares deep into Lily’s eyes and can’t help but give in to her urges, so to speak. She looms for so long over Lily I thought there was going to be some lip-action. This review has got to be the trashiest thing I’ve ever written. It’s not my fault! Dracula’s Daughter is to blame!
Anyway, the suggestion is that Dracula’s daughter bites Lily and makes her a vampire. They don’t actually show it though, cause a woman biting another woman is censored. Lily ends up at the hospital with all the classic wounds of the vampire, but she is silent and comatose, unable to speak. She later bites the big one, so to speak, MEANING, she dies.
Dracula’s daughter goes to see her psychiatrist again and professes her need for help. She seems frustrated and hatches another plot because her first one failed, which is predictable. In the end, Dracula’s daughter doesn’t succeed and is destroyed.
All in all, Dracula’s Daughter is not a good movie, but has some unique things that make it watchable. Yeah, that’s it. That’s why I watched it. Anyway, elements in this movie seem to imply that vampirism is something that can be controlled, like many human impulses. It is an interesting concept that it is only touched on briefly. Other than that, I found Gloria Holden interesting and the movie has a different approach to the many usual, vampire tropes, which is refreshing.