The first official sequel to the Hammer classic Dracula doesn’t actually feature Dracula at all, instead one of his old victims is still around and eventually freed. Thankfully it does include the return of Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing and once again his gravitas and refusal to do anything other than taking the role super-seriously really helps the film. Let’s take a look then!
Marianne Danielle, a young French schoolteacher en route to take up a position in Transylvania, is abandoned at a village inn by her coach driver. Ignoring the warnings of the locals, she accepts the offer of Baroness Meinster to spend the night at her castle. There, Marianne sees the Baroness’s handsome son, Baron Meinster, who is said to be insane and kept confined…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Val Helsing begins work on his shed. At least I think that’s what happened in this scene, it’s been a few weeks…
As far as sequels to Dracula go this one is among the more logical (if that’s a word I can use when describing sequels to Dracula…) as instead of resurrecting the Count it instead deals with someone he’d turned into a vampire in the past still being around. Baron Meinster (David Peel) is kept chained in the basement by his Baroness mother (Martita Hunt), who had met Dracula in the past and who had obviously bit her son, and despite her treatment of him she lures women to the castle in order to keep her son alive on their blood. Super-super-super naïve Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) arrives and is chosen as the next victim but manages to sneak into the cellar and meet the Baron first, the vampire convincing her that he was being kept against his will and she needed to free him, which she swiftly does. The Baron’s first act is to bite his mother and turn her into what she always hated and then take off into the night. Marianne runs at the sight of her corpse and it’s here we meet Van Helsing.
For the rest of the film we get a bit more standard affair as Helsing start discovering and killing women the Baron has turned while at the same time Marianne thinks it’s a great idea to go off with the clearly evil and just-a-day-or-so-ago-chained-to-a-wall Baron and accept his offer of marriage. The Baron then bites and turns Marianne’s roommate which tips her off a tad and is soon saved by Van Helsing, who then confronts the Baron and his various “brides” in a windmill. He defeats his vampire foe by positioning the now burning mill blades in the shape of a cross, the projection of which causes the Baron to scream and… die. *shrugs* Why not? Great visual if nothing else!
Look at how wide those eyes are! That’s proper old school “shock”.
Not too much, really. Some of the non-Cushing acting was rather shocking, even for a relatively low-budget Hammer affair. Marianne was particularly noticeable, though that may just be that she had to play the most gullible and helpless woman in… well, I’ve seen in a good while. Ever might be pushing it…
Hey look, it’s Dra- …. Oh yeah, right. Never mind.
The Brides of Dracula, which features not a single bride of Dracula nor Dracula, is actually a really good film. Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing is once again a commanding presence and carries the film on his back by being so stern and serious in the role. David Peel’s Baron was a good baddie as well. A really enjoyable cheesy horror film.