Dracula’s Daughter Blu-ray Review

Motivated Killer

Dracula’s Daughter’s story concerns a potential medical cure for vampirism. It asks if science has an answer to supernatural conditions, but as with Bride of Frankenstein, the undertones hold a more lurid depiction of attraction.

The exotic Gloria Holden takes the lead role, seeking a doctor who can remove the Dracula family’s curse. Simple, yet Dracula’s Daughter’s eroticism reveals a more scintillating concept – Holden’s Marya Zaleska draws women in to feed. She seeks out a homeless prostitute, seducing and then murdering the girl to hide the secret from an unwilling society.

Dracula’s sensuous style isn’t lost in this direct sequel, rather playing to a different, socially unacceptable (for the period) lesbian eroticism. Holden’s stares and quiet thrills before each victim meets their fate is overwhelmingly suggestive. Some it, undoubtedly, is designed for what is now a calmer titillation as a young woman removes her blouse for Zaleska.

Produced in the mid-’30s, the gender reversal clings to cliché. There’s still a damsel to save in the final act. A male lover is her savior. Prior, Dracula’s Daughter is a sophisticated piece of early screen horror, beginning with a sympathetic rather than cruel vampire. Zaleska wants an escape, and seeks the power of science for her answer. In this case, psychological care, a profession still in its infancy.

Holden carries a natural presence even before baring her fangs

Where Dracula dealt primarily in mysticism, Dracula’s Daughter seeks answers in science. Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) makes sense of undead blood suckers through common dialog, listing off discoveries that once seemed like fiction to make his case. That works in the context of this story as much as it does for Universal’s larger monster canon. Less myth, more real world plausibility sells (or rather, sold) tickets. So too does comedy.

The opening chapter relies on bumbling, cowardly police to alleviate potential leftover tension from Dracula. Soon though, the camera luridly stares at Holden’s eyes. Dracula’s Daughter returns quickly to a style of sultry horror. While lacking the alluring castle setting for most of the runtime, Dracula’s Daughter relies on performances to sell itself. That works. Holden carries a natural presence even before baring her fangs. Eventual victim Marguerite Churchill portrays a playful vixen, an easy attraction for Zaleska.

While the climax is little more than a routine rescue with heroes piling through the front door of a Transylvanian castle, all that comes prior is glamorous romanticism, spoken from a place of lust. Dracula’s Daughter makes for perfect vampire lore, and a standout offering for the period.

Video

Universal doesn’t share the critical admiration. This is one of the worst looking discs in the box set. Smothered with DNR, the glossy and muddy look is unappealing. Plastic faces and smeary environments lose their detail in the grain removal process. Not a second of Dracula’s Daughter looks like film.

In addition, there’s a visible reduction of image density. Black levels fail to reach true black. Instead, there’s a dense shade of gray. Contrast pinches brightness, leaving Dracula’s Daughter flattened without dimension.

Overall sharpness withers due to the digital manipulation. Whatever life sits in the film stock disappeared once the digital tools took their shots. At least clean-up work seems successful, removing any scratches or dirt. Dracula’s Daughter’s source appears in excellent condition according to this transfer.

Audio

Typically mute in terms of the score, Dracula’s Daughter is dialogue-driven for its runtime. That’s clear and well represented. Condition maintains an organic touch, and without hissing or popping.

When music kicks in, detail in the horns stays high. Low-end work provides a stable boost to the limited dynamics of a 1930 production.

Extras

Just a trailer as Dracula’s Daughter shares its disc with Son of Dracula.

Dracula's Daughter
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  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Dracula’s Daughter brazenly presents a sexualized vampire story, but does so with lurid undertones surprising for the 1930s.

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