Directed by Lambert Hillyer [Other horror films: The Invisible Ray (1936)]
Despite the fact my love of horror partially originated from being raised on the Universal classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man, I’ve a rather woeful record of watching the sequels to those classics. Never having seen, nor honestly thought much of, Dracula’s Daughter, I was definitely curious as to how they pushed on, and was quite happy with the result.
Taking place immediately following the events of Dracula, this film follows Edward Van Sloan’s Von Helsing (in the 1931 movie, his name was Van Helsing, but for some reason, they changed it up here) as he’s arrested for staking someone through the heart. Throw in a mysterious woman who steals Dracula’s corpse and shenanigans on the foggy streets of London, and you’re in for a good time.
I was rather pleased with a lot of this movie. Never having seen it, I didn’t know if it would be that connected to the 1931 classic, so seeing the film pick up right where that left off, with characters such as Renfield being mentioned (though I do wish they had name-dropped Harker, or thought to confirm Von Helsing’s story with anyone in the first movie), was a pleasant surprise. It’s nice to have that continuation when you don’t necessarily expect it.
The plot overall is pretty decent. I didn’t personally care about Dracula’s daughter wanting to fight her natural urges to go a-killin’, but it did give her more personality to work with. Also, the fact she’s a low-key lesbian is sort of fun. Apparently part of this story may be influenced by a classic gothic horror novel titled Carmilla, written by Sheridan Le Fanu, so if you do notice potential lesbian subtexts, that may be why.
Gloria Holden is no Bela Lugosi, but I thought she did admirably with her character, and definitely had a solid presence to her. Otto Kruger made for a pretty good lead, and seemed to work well with Marguerite Churchill. Speaking of chemistry, Gloria Holden had great chemistry with Nan Grey, who did a decent amount with her role. Edgar Norton (who I recognize from the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) was nice to see in a single scene, and though he’s not the focal point, it is great that Edward Van Sloan returned, as he’s the only face from the first movie that’s here.
Like many of the Universal classics, this is a pretty digestible movie, and it has that fun atmosphere that you’d come to expect from these films. I was personally impressed by how much I enjoyed this, and while I wouldn’t say it’s better than the 1931 movie, I would put forth that it’s perhaps around equivalent.
4 thoughts on “Dracula’s Daughter (1936)”