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The Brides of Dracula (1960)

Hot off the success of Hammer's second feature horror film Horror of Dracula, Hammer reached an agreement with Universal (who was supposedly spared from filing bankruptcy due to the success of Horror of Dracula) to remake its library of classic horrors, Dracula only being one of the few.  The continuance of the Dracula saga was high on Hammer's mind and finally in late 1959 the script for The Brides of Dracula was completed, a loose sequel which strangely enough did not even feature Dracula.

The Brides of Dracula focuses more on the "disciples" of Dracula as Dr. Van Helising is called to Transylvania to help dispose of a recent vampire outbreak.  It all begins when Marianne Danielle, a young woman from Paris looking to take a teaching position at an all girls academy, finds herself stranded in a small village in the dead of night.  She's offered a place to stay by the Baroness Meinster a strange old woman who lives in a castle on the hill.  

Happy to accept Marianne soon discovers a disturbing piece of information, the Baroness has locked her son within the confines of the castle, claiming him to be sick and dangerous.  Marianne lets curiosity get the best of her and she goes to talk to The Baron, only to discover him to be perfectly healthy and charming; she releases him from the chains his mother has bonded him to and releases a plague upon the town!  The Baroness knew all too well what she was doing bringing Marianne into her home, she was to be the life blood for her vampire son, unfortunately she never expected Marianne to left him go free.  Now the beast she used to keep locked in the depths of the castle, is free to roam the countryside turning all the women he meets into vampire brides!

The Brides of Dracula was a financial success even though it failed to be a true Dracula sequel due to the absence of Dracula himself.  Reasons behind Christopher Lee's absence  are thought to be related to either his wish not to be typecast as Dracula, his already busy schedule, or the amount of money he was asking, either way most Hammer fans still seem to feel The Brides of Dracula is a success, even one of Hammer's best horrors.

For me the film is on par with Horror of Dracula, excelling in areas where that film lacked and lacking in areas where it succeed.  The absence of Christopher Lee is obviously a big hit, even though Lee was only in Horror of Dracula for eight minutes he brought a definite dark vibe to the film.  Newcomer David Peel as, Dracula's replacement, Baron Meinster is thought to have given an unexpectedly good performance, although I felt it paled in comparison to Lee and at times bordered on campy.  Where The Brides of Dracula does succeed over Horror of Dracula is in regards to the story.  The storyline is much more interesting, unique and delves deeper into the vampire lore.  It also introduces some vampire trivia that previously was not mentioned in the first film, with fire being another avenue of destroying a vampire (something that is contradicted later on in Hammer's Lust For A Vampire), and vampire's ability to transform into other objects, mainly bats.

Overall, The Brides of Dracula is a nice mid sequel in the Dracula franchise, even without it's star character the film holds up reasonably well due to Peter Cushing's performance and the rather unique screenplay and overall execution of the film.  Is it the best Hammer has to offer?  Not in my opinon, but it does provide a more in-depth look into the vampire lore and is an entertaining diversion until the ultimate resurrection of Dracula.



  1. This one is one of the top Hammer vampire movies, even if it doesn't have Dracula in it, I consider it one of the best ones they ever produced. The atmosphere is top notch, as well as the art direction.

    Love that old witch cackling away cause she knows that her master is free! Awesome scene, not to mention the scene where she is waiting for the latest bride to come out of her those scenes.

    I reviewed a bunch of Hammer films a while back, specially the vampire ones in case you are interested!

    Nice review!

  2. I noticed you said one of the best Hammer Vampire films, would you say it's one of the best Hammer horror films? One of the Hammer books I have seems to think it is.

    Those scenes you mentioned definitely are great examples of good scenes in the film, although the grave site scene is a little bizarre in the sense that they buried the coffin about an inch in the ground!

  3. Yeah, thats a common error in a lot of horror films. Ive seen many resurrection sequences with the same error. They seem to forget that people are buried six feet under! Hello! At least Tarantino didnt forget that in Kill Bill 2, the bride had to really work her way out of that grave!

    But speaking of Brides, yeah, I think it is one of the best Hammer Horrors. The only thing that I didnt love about it was that the vampire was blonde and too squeaky clean looking in contrast with Lee's more ferocious rendition of a vampire.

    The hammer Dracula's were the best movies hammer produced, they maintained a level of quality pretty much all the way through, all the movies up to Dracula 1972 A.D. I enjoyed. After 1972 A.D. they went to Satanic Rites and the series of Dracula films was never the same to me. They brought Dracula to the 70s and took him out of his haunted castle in the just wasnt the same after that. Shortly after that the Dracula series of films died.

    I think the last one was The Legend of the Seven Golden my opinion the Hammer vampires ended on a high note with that one. It was a fun vampire flick.

    But other excellent hammer vampire films include

    Dracula Has Risen from the Grave - a very colorful take on Dracula thanks to the direction of Freddy Francis, cinematographer turned director.

    Taste the Blood of Dracula - a very cool Dracula film, with Ralph Bates playing the black magic man who brings Drac back to life for the amusement of four rich dudes loooking for thrills. I love this one!

    Scars of Dracula - a sadistic and more violent then usual dracula. Also one of the best. Many memorable sequences on this one.

    Prince of Darkness - Dont exactly love this one because Dracula is absent practicaly through the whole thing, we only see him briefly during the films third half, everything that comes before that is simply a set up for Draculas resurrection which takes an eternity to happen. A pity, since this was Christopher Lee's return to the role, this one came after Brides of Dracula.

  4. So far I find myself enjoying the Dracula films but not loving any particular one the most. I've watched the first three and liked them all about the same. My major complaint is the endings are a little weak. All the films start out strong and kinda fizzle out in the last 20 minutes.

    Curious that you say the Dracula films are overall the best Hammer Horrors, the Exhaustive Hammer Filmography book I'm reading actually thinks the Dracula films started to suck beginning with Prince of Darkness. Although I've found myself disagreeing quite a bit with the opinions of the authors of that book.


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