I must confess, I wouldn’t be as much of a movie fan as I am now if it weren’t for…
The Brides of Dracula
He Turned Innocent Beauty Into Unspeakable Horror.
A young teacher on her way to a position in Transylvania helps a young man escape the shackles his mother has put on him. In so doing she innocently unleashes the horrors of the undead once again on the populace, including those at her school for ladies. Luckily for some, Dr Van Helsing is already on his way.
My vampire weekend ends... for now...
Reader beware: anecdotal review ahead.
After falling madly in love with Werner Herzog's Nosferatu I went out in search of more dark, moody, and thoughtful vampire movies. Byzantium showed promise but felt too unfocused to buckle down on any one idea. Vampyr had the moody imagery down pat, but the thin story failed to carry the visuals anywhere interesting. Then came (Horror of) Dracula. It wasn't at all what I was looking for, but it was so much something else that it managed to put me under its spell. It wasn't dark, moody, or thoughtful: it was colorful, fun, and silly! So I decided to give Hammer Films another chance in the form of…
He was my son. Now he is only... a beast of the night.
Peter Cushing returns with his gentlemen-like-badassery as Doctor Van Helsing while Christopher Lee takes time off from the series. Even though Dracula's name is in the title, the film is actually about one of his "disciples" and a few female vamps that could be described as the Brides of Dracula in an extremely abstract way considering the Count has never even met them.
As if to get all thoughts of Dracula showing up in the film out of your mind right away, the story opens up with a narration to remind you that Dracula is in fact dead. What we do…
I like the various manifestations the plot takes: a Gothic horror about a family secret, a manhunt, a swashbuckler... only rarely does it dip into traditional sequences of bats flying into windows and biting necks. Peter Cushing owns the movie as the most suave, badass Van Helsing ever. It's as if someone told him they were making a James Bond movie set in ye olde vampire times, and he ran with it (I can only imagine how the girls' school sequence would have played out if this was a Bond movie...). The main vampire (he's not Dracula as the title would mislead you to believe) is excessively handsome in a boyish way that moves away from the Lugosi/Lee traditional depictions…
Watching Peter Cushing calmly DE-vampirize himself with burning hot coals to his neck is alone worth the price of admission. Also worth the price of admission: everything else.
Part of **Halloween Season 2012**.
WARNING: "DRACULA" DOES NOT APPEAR IN THIS FILM. (Christopher Lee has taken the role of the aptly-named 'Sir Not Appearing in this Picture'.)
But you do get Peter Cushing as Van Helsing to fight against "Baron Meinster". Additionally, we get a pair of sexy vampiresses (one of whom could easily have been the model for Pauley Perrette's whole look), as well as the breathtaking Yvonne Monlaur as our stupid, foolish, idiotic, naive-as-a-slasher-movie-sorority-girl heroine. She looks a bit like Claudia Cardinale and sounds like Catherine Deneuve. She'll do. But I still want to throw a glass of water in her face to get her attention because she keeps f**king everything up for everyone.
The first half…
This film, at first impression, will leave fans of Horror of Dracula disappointed due to the absence of Christopher Lee, who brilliantly portrayed the blood thirsty vampire as a real horrific threat. Peter Cushing's return gives this film a welcome familiar face, who is as good here if not better. Cushing's performance as the vampire seeking Dr. Van Helsing has surely got to be the best incarnation of them all, playing the role with complete control, satisfaction, confidence and determination.
David Peel plays Baron Meinster, the Dracula for this film, and impressively so. In no attempt, is he or the script trying to repeat what Dracula did in Horror of Dracula, Peel's performance is very…
Hammer flick with great set designs and wonderful Technicolor as expected but also with a more complex plot than usual. Peter Cushing is a baller in this one although it would have been nice to see Christopher Lee too!
Extra half-star for the last five minutes, which contain more action and intensity than everything preceding. The fear, the struggle against evil isn't propelled very well by the lead vampire. He's a poor surrogate for Lee's menacing presence, seeming a bit pathetic at times, and is never a convincing terror. He inexplicably wins a fight with Peter Cushing wherein Van Helsing first bests him with a rope versus a chain, and then is bafflingly overcome. Van Helsing is the one chasing the vampire at one point, and that's how the whole film seems, as if this is no real competition, and just a trifle. Thus, a disappointment, although the Baroness looks like she inspired Tilda Swinton in GRAND BUDAPEST, Cushing is still the most on-it Van Helsing, and there are plenty of great images via Terence Fisher.
Hammer horror that still feels like it has some grandeur with the set design and scale. The only thing that really bothers me is how dumb Marianne seems. I know that Helsing doesn't really explain anything to her, but considering that Marianne saw the Baron's mom dead very shortly after she let him free, she might be a tad suspicious of immediate marriage proposals. The climax is pretty awesome, even though the vampire mistresses just sort of stand around the entire time. Amazing holy water damage makeup, goofy windmill cross, the Baron using a chain as a weapon and his eerie resemblance to a blonde Ray Wise earn bonus points.
Not as fast-paced as Horror of Dracula, but thematically richer, scarier and with an arguably more exciting climax. In the three years between Curse of Frankenstein to Brides of Dracula Hammer went from playfully goosing the audience with splashes of blood and glimpses of dismembered organs to actually quite gruesome moments in this, like when Cushing has to cauterize his own vampire bite-marks.
Despite the title, there is no Dracula in this movie. The vampire instead is Baron Meinster, played by David Peel, and he is no knock on Christopher Lee. Why is it that everyone who isn't Christopher Lee looks so silly with vampire fangs hanging out their mouths? Peel looks a little derpy when he reveals his, like…
There's a terrible bat prop in the film and the lead actress apparently suffers amnesia mid-way through the film forgetting that there's a vampire around, but it may be Terence Fisher's greatest achievement in creating a fairy tale on screen. Cushing is quite fun as an action hero and it tops Horror of Dracula for the size of the cross at the end.
David Peel's Baron Meinster isn't as commanding as Lee's Dracula, but he's perhaps more perverse.
The seams in the script show, but the filmmaking is top notch.
Probably Fisher's most assured effort especially in light all of the narrative inconsistencies that he's able to overcome with sheer energy. It's the earliest Hammer film he directed where the performers begin to feel liberated from his overly restrained staging, in favor of visual momentum.
A true logistical nightmare, with peripheral characters being introduced throughout as major players only to shortly disappear for the remainder of the proceedings. Why David Peel is shackled but can still transform into a bat is an overlooked flaw. Yvonne Monlaur's performance is stagnating while her character's ambivalence to Peel's true motives is rather convenient. And why Hammer chose to re-introduce the bat transformations after denouncing them in the previous entry is senseless as their…
Directed by Terence Fisher this film stars Peter Cushing, Martita Hunt, Yvonne Monlaur and David Peel. A young school teacher travelling in Transylvania stays with an old countess who has her son mysteriously chained up.
While this is not a complete retreat of Dracula (1958) but features much of the same stuff if not a return of the famous count. The story does not offer much new and focuses on a male vampire rather than characters you might expect from the title but is a solid effort if you just want more of the same. Production values are on par with the rest of the Hammer Horror cannon but this is really only one for the uber fans.
Although it's missing Christopher Lee, who was the best thing about the largely repetitive "Horror of Dracula," this second entry in Hammer Studio's Dracula series is an underrated gem of the Hammer catalog, and, in my opinion, trumps the first film.
In lieu of the actual character of Dracula, this movie boasts a tighter and more fluid plot, great sequences of suspense, terrific performances, eerie makeup, and a better handle on its own vampire mythology than the previous film. I am looking forward to the return of Dracula (once again played by Christopher Lee) in the third entry, "Dracula: Prince of Darkness," but this film--masterfully directed by Terence Fisher--is extremely entertaining, and a more than solid entry in its own right.
Them Hammer movies sure aren't in a hurry to tell their story. Guess there's no hurry when there's not really a lot going on.
Technicolor is pretty though and Peter Cushing burns his neck with a piece of coal, so I guess there's that :-)
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