Plot: What’s it about?
Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) thinks he done the world a great service by battling the vampire Dracula, but now he is arrested and charged with murder. But then a strange woman makes off with The Count’s corpse, with the intention to burn it and then begin a vampiric life of her own. At the same time, bloodless bodies start to surface in London once again, which means bad news for the residents, of course. Countess Marya Zaleska (Gloria Holden) soon seeks out Van Helsing’s psychiatrist Dr. Garth (Otto Kruger) and complains of a supernatural influence, one that has impure motivations. A wild turn of events follows, in which Garth and Van Helsing travel to mystic Transylvania, seeking the mysterious Countess and Garth’s kidnapped fiancee. But will their search and rescue efforts actually work out as planned, or will it just result in a few more bloodless corpses to be discovered?
I am a fan of vampire cinema, so I was thrilled to be able to pick up Dracula’s Daughter, especially in a double feature release like this. It might not be held in as high an esteem as Dracula, but this movie has some great moments, to be sure. The female vampire angle offers some new twists on the usual tale, while there are also some terrific visuals present. But not the kind of visuals that bowl you over, more like the kind that slowly suck you in, which is how it should be here. In other words, Dracula’s Daughter has great atmosphere and in a vampire movie, that is a most desired element. The atmosphere here adds tension and allows for enhanced eerie feelings, just what a scary movie needs, right? Add in a wonderful turn by Gloria Holden (The Hucksters, Strange Holiday) and we’re in business, as Dracula’s Daughter is a terrific horror movie, especially if you’re a vampire nut. This is a great purchase when you consider the double feature angle, so check it out and as you watch, dig those female vampire encounters.
Count Anthony Alucard (Lon Chaney, Jr.) is the son of the legendary Count Dracula and of course, he is every bit as bloodthirsty as his father. He is soon offered fresh feeding grounds, when a beautiful young Southern woman named Katherine (Louise Allbritton) invites him to the United States, where lots of potential victims can be found. She is on the morbid side to be sure, but when The Count arrives in the U.S., he shows he his morbid side, which is much darker. Katherine’s boyfriend Robert Paige (Frank Stanley) and the other locals are suspicious of Alucard & his mysterious ways, but have no real evidence to build on. As Alucard feeds on all sorts of local residents, he also uses his powers on Katherine, to make her fall to his charms, despite the efforts of Robert to prevent that. What will become of this town that has fallen prey to the vicious Count, will his wrath ever be lifted from the area?
The second half of this vampire double dose is Son of Dracula, in which Lon Chaney, Jr. (The Wolf Man, The Mummy’s Curse) takes the reins of The Count. I’ve read a lot of complaints about this movie and I don’t understand them, as I find this to be one of the better Universal horror sequels, without a doubt. No, it doesn’t measure up to Dracula, but it is a very good movie and it some ways, more than keeps pace with the original. It has some downright chilling moments and atmosphere to spare, thanks to tight direction and superb visuals. The production values are better than average and I simply don’t see where the complaints come from, to be honest. I know Chaney, Jr. isn’t the best man to take on this kind of role, but he manages well enough and with such rich atmosphere and plenty of chills, Son of Dracula is a real winner. I recommend this movie to genre fans to be sure and since it’s part of this great double feature, don’t pass this release over!
Video: How does it look?
Dracula’s Daughter is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. I was quite pleased here, as this film was made in 1936, but looks terrific here. I saw some grain and debris, but the print used was much cleaner than expected, sometimes almost pristine in nature. The contrast is level handed and never falters much either, which is good, since this is a black & white feature. Simply put, Universal has given this flick the deluxe visual treatment and while the film has some years behind it, it look fantastic here.
Son of Dracula is also presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. This looks even better than Dracula’s Daughter and since it is seven years younger, I suppose that’s to be expected. Even so, this looks much cleaner and refined than previous editions, with a very nice print used and no serious problems to report. As with Dracula’s Daughter, some debris and grain is presented, but not as much as I had anticipated, to be sure. The black levels are dead on the mark also, which ensures that the black & white visuals look as good as possible. Another solid transfer from Universal, who continue to impress on these Classic Monster releases.
Audio: How does it sound?
These are old mono tracks and as such, I didn’t have my hopes up too high, not by any means. But when stacked against the prior home video editions, these tracks shine and come across in much better form, to be sure. Both tracks have solid presence and while limited because of mono, this is better than I ever thought these films could sound. There are minimal instances of hiss and harshness, due to the clean source materials, ones that aren’t that dated at all. The music sounds good in both films, while dialogue is also richer than usual and never hard to understand. On Dracula’s Daughter you’ll find English, French, and Spanish subtitles, while Son of Dracula houses English and French subtitle options.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You’ll find talent files, production notes, and a theatrical trailer for each film.