We continue last week's gore theme with, at last, a Hammer Films selection!
Hammer is, of course, the British production company known for its high-gothic horror films, made between the 1950s and 1970s, and often involving elaborate costumes, lots of movie fog, candelabras, swooning damsels and copious amounts of rather orangey blood.
I was all excited to write about Christopher Lee, but when "Brides of Dracula" arrived I discovered that he's not in this one; which makes sense, since his character (that's Dracula, kids) is killed at the end of the preceding Hammer film, 1958's "Horror of Dracula."
Fortunately, he was to be revived in "Dracula: Prince of Darkness" (1966) and many other ensuing Hammer films (my favorite being "Dracula Has Risen From The Grave" -- I love that title! I mean, what else does Dracula do?).
But with "Brides" we're on our own, star-power-wise, with Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing, and that turns out to be quite a fine thing indeed.
"Brides of Dracula" opens as a carriage rushes through a forest, and a voiceover informs us that we are in Transylvania. Although Dracula is dead, the voiceover tells us, his "cult" persists. Then we meet Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur), our resident damsel, and through her viewpoint we're plunged into an entirely new, Dracula-style story of frightened innkeepers, terrified coachmen and spooky old castles. Marianne ends up in the castle of Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt), who's keeping her own son (David Peel) captive; the son gets ahold of Marianne, explains to her that he's the rightful Baron, and convinces her to free him. Next thing we know, the baroness is dead and so is a local peasant wench. Oh dear!
I got so caught up in this storyline that I forgot about poor Cushing entirely, but eventually he does show up. Van Helsing has been summoned by locals who were already concerned about the Meinster situation even before the Baron got out. The good doctor rescues Marianne from the woods, where she has been fleeing the Meinster castle, and drops her off at the girls' school where she teaches. Then he repairs back to the local inn for a drink with the village priest. Together they diagnose the problem as vampirism, brought on by the Baron! Will Van Helsing defeat the undead?
What kind of question is that? Does a damsel faint in the woods?