“Thank you, I never drink…wine.”
In London, police find the body Renfield with his neck broken. Nearby is Dracula. He has a stake through his heart. They also find Professor Von Helsing (Edward Van Sloan). He admits to killing Dracula. They arrest Von Helsing and take him to the Scotland Yard. Inspector Sir Basil Humphrey (Gilbert Emery) questions Von Helsing. Von Helsing asks for psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger).
Countess Marya Zeleska (Gloria Holden) is the daughter of Dracula. She appears at the police station where the body of her father is being guarded. Putting the guard in a trance and, with the aide of her assistant Sandor (Irving Pichel), steals Dracula’s body. She burns the corpse in the hopes of releasing herself from the family curse. Unfortunately for the Countess the curse is still as potent as ever and she must go out into the night and find another victim.
When Jeffrey’s assistant Janet Blake (Marguerite Churchill) informs him about Von Helsing’s arrest he wastes no time in seeing him. Believing Von Helsing is obsessed with Dracula he promises to help him. While attending a party he meets the Countess. She becomes intrigued about his theories on obsessions and the possibility of curing them. Jeffrey tells her that she must test her resolve and resist the temptation. The Countess has Sandor bring her a test subject. He brings a young woman to her studio. But the young girl is too much for the Countess’s primal urges. Countess Zeleska wants Jeffrey to go to Transylvania with her. She wants him to be with her forever. He refuses. She kidnaps Janet. With Janet’s life in danger Jeffrey turns to Dr. Von Helsing for help.
“Dracula’s Daughter” was released in 1936 and was directed by Lambert Hillyer. This underrated hidden classic is one of Universal’s horror films. It snuck in there between “Bride of Frankenstein” and “Son of Frankenstein”. Universal’s biggest monsters are usually Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, and even The Mummy.
“Dracula’s Daughter” is different. First of all she’s a woman. A woman with power. And a very sexual woman. The subtext of the movie is her preference for women. She is also a tortured woman. Cursed with the legacy of her father she is just as frightening. Since the movie was made after the Hayes Act and the establishment of the Motion Picture Code there are lots of subtle lesbian references that are disguised. Words that could be either standard for horror movies or ‘code’ for gay back in the day. In this case perhaps both. I believe she is bi-sexual in nature. Although she is most intrigued with women she will victimize men as well. She is haunted by her curse, both the curse of being a vampire and the curse of desiring women. Both contribute to her lonely lifestyle. Gloria Holden's performance as the melancholy vampire is outstanding, but Irving Pichel as the subtly sadistic Sandor is just as wickedly good.
Dr. Van Helsing’s name was changed to Von Helsing for “Dracula’s Daughter”. Special Make-up was done by Jack Pierce. “Dracula’s Daughter” is one of Universal’s better horror movies before they slid into the “B” movie era.