The Brides of Dracula

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For the characters from the novel, see Brides of Dracula.
The Brides of Dracula
The-Brides-of-Dracula-poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Terence Fisher
Produced by Anthony Hinds
Written by Peter Bryan
Edward Percy
Jimmy Sangster
Anthony Hinds (uncredited)
Starring Peter Cushing
Martita Hunt
Yvonne Monlaur
David Peel
Music by Malcolm Williamson
Cinematography Jack Asher
Edited by Alfred Cox
Production
company
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • 7 July 1960 (1960-07-07)
Running time 85 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Brides of Dracula is a 1960 British Hammer Film Productions Horror film directed by Terence Fisher. It stars Peter Cushing as Van Helsing; David Peel as Baron Meinster, a disciple of Count Dracula; Yvonne Monlaur as Marianne Danielle; Andrée Melly as her roommate, Gina; Marie Devereux as a village girl; and Martita Hunt as the Baroness Meinster.[1]

While it is ostensibly a sequel to Hammer's original Dracula (USA: Horror of Dracula) (1958), it is really a sequel to the original novel, as the vampires possess abilities denied to vampires in the previous film but not to those in the novel. Alternative working titles were Dracula 2 and Disciple Of Dracula. Dracula does not appear in the film (Christopher Lee would reprise his role in the 1966 Dracula: Prince of Darkness) and is mentioned only twice, once in the prologue, once by Van Helsing.

Shooting began for The Brides of Dracula on 16 January 1960 at Bray Studios.[2] It premièred at the Odeon, Marble Arch on 6 July 1960.

Storyline[edit]

Prologue[edit]

The story begins with a shot of a gloomy wood (Black Park, Buckinghamshire) as a voice-over intones:

"Transylvania, land of dark forests, dread mountains and black unfathomable lakes. Still the home of magic and devilry as the nineteenth century draws to its close. Count Dracula, monarch of all vampires is dead. But his disciples live on to spread the cult and corrupt the world..."

Plot[edit]

Peter Cushing in The Brides of Dracula

Marianne Danielle, a young French schoolteacher en route to take up a position in Transylvania, is abandoned at a village inn by her coach driver. Ignoring the warnings of the locals, she accepts the offer of Baroness Meinster to spend the night at her castle. There, she sees the Baroness's handsome son, who she is told is insane and kept confined. When she sneaks into his quarters to meet him, she is shocked to find him chained by his leg to the wall, and when he tells her that his mother has usurped his rightful lands and pleads for her help, she agrees to steal the key to his chain from the Baroness' bedroom. Discovering this, the Baroness is horrified; yet when her son appears, she obeys him and accompanies him back to his rooms. Later, Marianne discovers the Baroness' servant Greta, who has also taken care of the Baron since he was a baby, in hysterics: She shows Marianne the Baroness' corpse, and the puncture marks in her throat. Marianne flees into the night.

She is found, exhausted, by Dr. Van Helsing the following morning. She doesn't remember all that has happened, nor is she familiar when asked about the words "undead" or "vampirism." He escorts her to the school where she's to be employed.

When Van Helsing reaches the village inn, he finds there is a funeral in progress. A young girl has been found dead in the woods with wounds upon her throat. He contacts Father Stepnik, who had requested Van Helsing's presence, having suspicions about the castle and the Baroness. He tries to dissuade the girl's father from burying her but he doesn't listen, allowing more time for her transformation to be completed. Sure enough, that night the village girl rises from her grave, aided by Greta, as witnessed by Van Helsing and Father Stepnik. The newly vampirised village girl flees while Greta holds off the two men. Van Helsing goes to the castle and discovers the Baroness, now risen as a vampire herself, as well as the Baron. After a brief scuffle, the Baron flees, abandoning his mother who, in her undead state, is full of self-loathing and guilt. After sunrise the next morning, Van Helsing "releases" her with a wooden stake.

The Baron, meanwhile, visits Marianne at the school and asks her to marry him. She accepts, much to the good-natured envy of her roommate Gina. Once Gina is alone, however, Baron Meinster appears and drains her blood. When Van Helsing visits the next day, he finds the school in a small uproar over Gina's death. He orders that her body be placed in a horse stable with people watching it until he returns. That night, Marianne relieves the headmaster's wife of her watch. Initially she is with the stable keeper, when, in a scene derived from M. R. James' "Count Magnus," one of the padlocks on the coffin falls off without unlocking. Serverin, going outside to fetch another lock, is killed by a vampire bat (presumably the Baron or the village girl) while inside the last lock falls from the coffin. The coffin lid is pushed opened and Gina rises, now a vampire, and and smiles her newly formed fangs at Marianne. She approaches Marianne, asking forgiveness for "letting him love me," and asks to "kiss" her. She also reveals the whereabouts of the Baron, who is hiding at the old mill.

Van Helsing discovers the body of Severin, and enters the stable, saving Marianne from being bitten by Gina, who then flees. Van Helsing takes Marianne back to the school to calm her down. Marianne doesn't want to believe that the Gina or the Baron are vampires but Van Helsing confirms that the Gina she knows is indeed dead and has come back as a vampire bride loyal to the Baron who will have no qualms attacking her or the school if not stopped. Reluctantly, Marianne tells Van Helsing what Gina told her. The vampire hunter goes to the old mill and is confronted by both of Meinster's "Brides" as well as Greta, who, as a human, isn't repelled by the cross. Greta is killed in a fall but the cross falls into the well below the mill and is now out of Van Helsing's reach as the Baron arrives, brandishing a length of chain. In the fight that follows, the Baron manages to subdue Van Helsing and bites him, inflicting him with vampirism before leaving. When Van Helsing wakes, he realizes what has happened. He heats a metal tool in a brazier until it is red hot, then cauterises his throat wound and pours holy water on it to purify it. The wounds disappear as Gina and the village girl watch from the rafters, shocked that Van Helsing overcame a vampire bite.

Baron Meinster, meanwhile, abducts Marianne from the school and brings her to the mill, intending to vampirise her in front of Van Helsing. As Meinster attempts to hypnotise her, to make her compliant to his will, Van Helsing seizes the canteen of holy and throws its contents into the Baron's face, which sears him like acid. Meinster kicks over the brazier of hot coals, starting a fire, supposedly trapping Gina and the village girl, as he flees outside. Van Helsing takes Marianne up into the mill, then out via the huge sails, which he moves to form the shadow a gigantic cross over Baron Meinster, who is killed by it. Van Helsing goes to ground level to make sure he's dead then comforts Marianne as the mill burns.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Most of the interior shots were done at Bray Studios. The exterior shooting locations were in nearby Black Park and Oakley Court.
  • The ending was to have originally had the vampires destroyed by a swarm of bats released from hell by an arcane ritual. This ending was rejected by Peter Cushing, who claimed that Van Helsing would never resort to the use of black magic. The concept of this ending was used three years later for the climax of Hammer's The Kiss of the Vampire.
  • "My own personal involvement in a film like Brides was always 100 percent, not because I felt it to be my duty but because I felt very strongly that the pictures were mine. No doubt Terry [Fisher] thought they were his and Jimmy Sangster thought they belonged to him. And Peter C knew they were his." — Producer Anthony Hinds[3]
  • Christopher Lee was approached to reprise his role as Dracula for this film but turned it down and the script was reshaped by Jimmy Sangster.
  • Jimmy Sangster, director Terence Fisher and even Peter Cushing were reportedly involved in rewriting the script.

Reception[edit]

Brides of Dracula holds a score of 71% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Novelization[edit]

A paperback novelization of the film by Dean Owen was published by Monarch Books in 1960, and features:

  • an entire subplot about a character named Latour, a townsman who serves the Meinster estate;
  • a subplot where Van Helsing and Marianne fall in love and have sex;
  • the climax features a "black magic" ceremony where Dr. Van Helsing summons a swarm of vampire bats to destroy Baron Meinster for violating "the vampire code"...drinking the blood of his own mother and turning her into a vampire. The ending not used in the film but it was used as the climax of the 1962 Hammer horror classic, "Kiss of the Vampire". Professor Zimmer (played by Clifford Evans) performs the ceremony and the bats attack Castle Ravna.

DVD and Blu-ray Releases[edit]

  • A region 1 DVD edition of the film (in a two double-sided disc box set, along with seven other Hammer classics originally distributed by Universal International) was released on 6 September 2005.
  • A region 2 DVD edition of the film was released on 15 October 2007.
  • A region B Blu-ray/DVD Double Play was released on August 26 2013.[4] This release was somewhat controversial among fans as the original aspect ratio was overcropped from 1.66 to 2.0.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brides of Dracula Heading to New Hampshire for Spooktacular 3
  2. ^ Rigby, Jonathan (July 2000). English Gothic : A Century of Horror Cinema (in English). Reynolds & Hearn. p. 256. ASIN 1903111013. ISBN 978-1903111017. OCLC 45576395. 
  3. ^ Little Shoppe of Horrors #14, 1999
  4. ^ http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-Brides-of-Dracula-Blu-ray/69371/

External links[edit]