Marianne Danielle (Yvonne Monlaur) is on her way to begin a job as a French teacher in a school for girls. When the coach stops at a small village for dinner Marianne goes into the local inn. While she is waiting for her dinner the coach leaves and abandons her. Shortly after that Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) arrives at the inn and invites Marianne to her castle to have dinner with her and stay the night until transportation can be arranged to take her to the school.
While she is in her room Marianne sees a young man on a balcony below her. The Baroness says that it is her son, Baron Meinster (David Peel), and that he is insane. Later Marianne sees him standing on the balustrade and believes he is going to jump. Fearing he is going to commit suicide she races to his room. She finds that he has been chained to the wall and is unable to leave. He convinces her that his mother is evil and talks Marianne into stealing the key to silver chain and releasing him.
Later the family servant, Greta (Freda Jackson), tells Marianne that the Baron killed his mother and has fled the castle. When Marianne sees the dead Baroness she runs out into the night. She is found in the morning by Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). Van Helsing has been called by the local priest to investigate a strange illness in the area. Unknown by the locals is that the Baroness has been providing her son with the occasional female victim. When they get to the local inn Van Helsing finds that a local girl has died from this unknown malady. Finding out about the Baron, Van Helsing believes that Marianne unknowingly released a vampire. It’s not long before another girl, Gina (Andree Melly), is found dead. Baron Meinster is now free and has Marianne in his sights.
“The Brides of Dracula” was released in 1960 and was directed by Terence Fisher. It is a horror film produced by the Hammer Film Studios and is the second film in their Dracula series.
The movie is billed as a sequel to Hammer’s first film “Dracula” 1958 or “The Horror of Dracula” in the U.S. release. Peter Cushing reprises his role as Doctor Van Helsing but Christopher Lee as Dracula does not. The title is rather misleading since the male vampire is not named Dracula and it is a separate story from the first Dracula tale. The third film in the Hammer Dracula series is about the resurrection of the Christopher Lee Dracula and falls more in line with what a sequel should be. Since the vampire in the film really has nothing to do with the actual Count Dracula the film is actually not about the Brides of Dracula but the Brides of Meinster, although that doesn’t sound all that horrific.
David Peel as Dracula’s replacement is not all that impressive. Two inches shorter than Peter Cushing he had to wear lifts to appear more imposing. Although the film has much of the standard Hammer look and feel it falls just a tad short in the impressive category. I believe that this is because they put too much emphasis on a Dracula that never shows up. To me the film would have made more sense if they had focused on Van Helsing and his exploits instead of an absent Dracula. Even though the voice over in the beginning of the film does say that Dracula is dead and the movie is actually about his disciples it comes over like a bait and switch scam. I can’t fault Christopher Lee too much for not wanting to be type cast but he is far sexier as the dreaded Dracula than Peel is as his disciple.
Supposedly the film’s special effects department spent a lot of time and effort into creating a bat that was realistic. Unfortunately the prop got lost so a substitute had to be used. The replacement, instead of looking like a bat, looked very much the fake bat it was.