Dracula's Daughter (1936)

Genres - Horror  |   Run Time - 69 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bob Mastrangelo

Notorious for containing some of the most overt references to lesbianism in a Hollywood Production Code-era film, Dracula's Daughter remains a curiosity from Universal's cycle of monster movies. Picking up where the original Dracula left off, Dracula's daughter is the exotic beauty Countess Marya Zaleska, who shows up to claim her father's body and sticks around long enough to sample the local cuisine. Most of the cast just goes through the motions, especially the usually reliable Otto Kruger, but Gloria Holden gives it her seductive all in the performance of her career. Vampirism is seen more as an addiction to be overcome than a state of being, and Holden portrays Zaleska as a woman tormented by her desire for blood, both desperate for a way out and hungry for her next meal. The film's most memorable victim is certainly Lili, a young woman of the streets. In a scene that is more sexually charged than horror-filled, Zaleska entices Lili to remove her blouse by asking her to pose for a painting, then with lustful eyes closes in to fulfill her thirst. Much of the film, particularly the climax, is poorly directed and rarely as dramatically involving as it could be, and the forced banter between Dr. Garth and his assistant Janet is stale and lacking in either chemistry or wit. Indeed, were it not for the presence of Holden and the lesbian overtones, Dracula's Daughter probably would have been forgotten long ago; with these elements, the film's continued status as a somewhat campy cult flick seems assured.