Sunday, May 9, 2010

Brides Of Dracula, The - 4/5

The Brides of Dracula, despite not starring Christopher Lee as Dracula, is Hammer's first sequel to their hit Horror of Dracula. Lee refused to return as Dracula for many years (he would return in the role for the third film Dracula: Prince of Darkness). Instead writers decided to forge on without him following the character Van Helsing has he roams Transylvania to kill of Dracula's disciples.

I actually had to put off viewing this film for many years for refusal to by the Universal DVD set this film was featured in. The set, entitled "The Hammer Horror Series", had eight Hammer films featured on two duel layered, double sided discs and this set (along with many other Universal DVD-18 releases) was known to be plagued with defects and problems. Thanks to a co-worker who graciously bought the set for me for my birthday, I was able to finally view this second entry I was dying to see. Thankfully this film was not defective and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the rest of the films.

The films plot begins with a young woman traveling across Transylvania when her coach decides to leave her at a tavern. She ends up going home with an elderly woman to shelter at her castle and ends up being fooled into releasing her vampire son from his shackles. In comes Van Helsing to release the town from its vampire grip as this young fanged monster spreads his contagion.

Despite the film having a deceptive title and for the fact it doesn't star Christopher Lee, this sequel ends up being the best sequel in the entire franchise. Peter Cushing is likable as ever as Van Helsing and one only wishes he played the role more in the sequels to come. David Peel does a acceptable job as our new vampire but he's no Christopher Lee and thankfully the presence of Peter Cushing makes up for this fact.

Not only did I find this the best sequel in the series, I also find this to be one of the best Hammer horror films ever made. Everything that made the company so great is featured here: Lush colorful sets, wonderful cast and acting, thick Gothic atmosphere, and sure handed directing again from Terence Fisher, who is a little more mobile with the camera here than he was on the first film. For people wanting to get into Hammer, this would be a must-see film. It's just a shame it's featured in a DVD set that has an extremely glitchy reputation.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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