Dr. Von Helsing (Edward Van Sloan), thinking he has rid London of all vampires, is instead arrested for murder. Just when Von Helsing's fate seems sealed, the bodies suddenly disappear. Soon several people are found mysteriously killed, their bodies drained of all blood. Meanwhile, beautiful and mysterious Countess Marya Zaieska (Gloria Holden) appears in London. The troubled woman seeks the understanding Dr. Garth (Otto Kruger), Von Helsing's psychiatrist, for consultation. A mysterious sequence of events surrounding a disorientated young girl (Nan Grey) leads Von Helsing and Garth to deduce the countess must be a vampire. They set off to Transylvania after the elusive countess to rescue Garth's beautiful fiancee (Marguerite Churchill) in this engrossing thriller.
Poetic sequel ...
- Dracula's Daughter review by NP
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Five years earlier, Dracula had made a star out of Bela Lugosi and a lot of money for Universal films. Shortly after, Frankenstein did the same for Boris Karloff. Strange then, that in those days of high turnover films, it took several years for follow-ups to emerge.
A sequel to Dracula without Bela seemed unthinkable, but that is what happened. Instead, his corpse is represented by a wax model seen for seconds before being extinguished on a pyre presided over by a haunted, dewy-eyed woman claiming to be his daughter.
Gloria Holden plays Contessa Marya Zeleska with a skillful mixture of the sinister and vulnerable. A very strong willed person, she is also fragile on account of what she sees as her disease. The disease is vampirism, and naively, she thinks she can be cured. No-nonsense psychiatrist Jeffrey Garth is the man she believes can help her. Garth is a likeable character despite his impatience, and his flirtatious secretary provides some appealing humour amidst the grimness.
Edward Van Sloan is back from Dracula, although his character is now known - inexplicably - as Prof Von Helsing, and it is his job to wade through the bland veneer of officialdom to continue his pursuit of the undead.
Irving Pichel plays Zeleska's servant Sandor with spine-chilling vigour, all lurking and muttering apocalyptic words of doom as only the best creepy servants to.
And yet my favourite scene involves a character called Lili. First seen looking lost but determined in a fog-shrouded street, it appears she is about to commit suicide. Little is made of her unhappiness, and her initial plight is handled as if it is a fairly routine occurance and of no great concern. She is promised warmth and food by the shadowy Sandor and with nothing else in her life, she accompanies him. That she is then cruelly used as a kind of 'test' for Zaleska to determine whether or not she can control her vampiric urges, makes Lil's case ever more tragic - her imminent death in hospital, afraid of the light and drifting in and out of reality brings the curtain down on her wretched journey. And yet, there is a daring eroticism in the scenes where Lili is posing for Zaleska to paint her - the two actresses excel here:
After being instructed to pull her shoulder strap down further, Lili asks innocently "Why are you looking at me that way? Will I do?"
"Yes, you'll do very well indeed," purrs Zaleska.
Lili is played by Nan Grey, and her plight echoes Zaleska's own. The way the loss of Lili is treated so insignifcantly makes her story a real tragedy. Poor little blighter!