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Monday, October 21, 2013

A Sequel's 1936 Dose From Universal


Was This Daughter A Patch On Dracula?

Censorship stripped horror to bones after PCA enforce took hold. You couldn't say Boo without arousing them. Wild-wooly first drafts for Dracula's Daughter were ground to chalk by Breen's bunch, what finally got on screens denuded to pabulum by timid monster merchants. All they could do was beef advertising and instill hope of thrills increasingly unfilled. Did chillers fade partly for a public tiring of mislabeled product? I've made allowance for Dracula's Daughter since 1964's first encounter, that being tough sometimes for friends' insistence (repeated) that it's a dog. Sometimes age opens eyes and not-so-belated appreciation (I'd come around to DD's spell not long after childish letdown). There was apparently many a false start to production, Bela Lugosi intended for reprise of his vampire king, but all we've got of him are on-set visit posing with title lead Gloria Holden.


D's Daughter seeks vampirism cure via precode rake Otto Kruger, horror fans' appreciation for him surely increased for modern exposure to all and sundry character triumph among other than monsters. Kruger's Dr. Garth is impatient here, as well the actor may have been with DD's far-out content. Edward Van Sloan gets a better whack at Van Helsing than the original Dracula allowed, thanks to five years and talkie progress in the interim. Gloria seduces Nan Grey to latter-day delight of subtext-seekers: it's there in Holden's appreciative gaze and our wistful imagining of possibility. So much of classic horror is earnest reading between lines. An always Universal greatness was houses (or castles) beautiful in which monsters dwelt, making their constraint otherwise matter less. We could turn down volume on these and still get our kicks. Atmosphere is where quality DVD really pays, and better still are those Uni chillers so far on Blu-Ray and others being streamed. My next view of Dracula's Daughter will hopefully be HD-enhanced for further dose of revelation.

5 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

The first time I tried to watch DD, I turned it off at the sight of that faux-Bela corpse. I got around to watching it recently, and have to admit it's better than I was expecting, especially Irving Pichel's bizarre turn as Sandor. I do feel, however, that the alleged lesbian subplot has been blown out of proportion.

11:47 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Donald Benson ponders "Dracula's Daughter's lack of a hero:


The thing I remember was waiting for the REAL hero to show up, probably right after know-it-all Kruger died for his hubris ("There is no such thing as -- AWK!") and his put-upon girlfriend needed comforting from a nice, standard-issue romantic lead.
That Kruger WAS the hero and lasted to the end of the film was probably the biggest surprise in the picture.
Also, the tone was so odd, with Drac's little girl trying to escape the curse and coming within a hair of being sympathetic, then deciding to hell with it.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

The first DRACULA I saw was SON OF DRACULA on TV Midnight in New Brunswick. Loved it.

I liked DRACULA'S DAUGHTER when I ran it at Rochdale College in the 1970s. Still like it now.

It seems Universal did not put the value on Lugosi they did on Karloff or they would have had him in the film but then the accent would have been on him not her.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

I've seen the story in print several times that Bela was in fact paid for DD, script adjustments not overriding contractual obligation. Have also heard that his fee for this one was either one of the largest or THE largest payday he ever had for one picture. Anyone know if this is true?

11:01 AM  
Blogger Ken Zimmerman Jr. said...

Of the Dracula sequels, Dracula's Daughter was always my favorite due to Gloria Holden, Otto Krueger and Irving Pichel. I thought Pichel stole the show from the main stars.

11:11 AM  

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