Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Brides of Dracula, The (1960)

Directed by:
Terence Fisher

Hammer's second vampire film (out of many) reunited director Fisher, writer Jimmy Sangster and star Peter Cushing after their success in the hit HORROR OF DRACULA (1958). At the time, Christopher Lee refused to do the part and would not don the cape and fangs again until 1966's DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS. Instead of the dark, silent count, here we get blonde, charismatic and youthful-looking Baron Meinster (David Peel), a bloodsucker kept in check by his overbearing, haughty ma (Martita Hunt), who keeps him imprisoned with silver chains at her chateau, but still makes sure her son is well fed, if you catch my drift. The vampire is accidentally released by a beautiful French teacher (Yvonne Monlaur), who incidentally is just starting her position as a teacher at a nearby learning institution for girls... the perfect place for the Baron to find some naive young victims. Cushing expertly essays the role as vampire expert Van Helsing and Freda Jackson has a scene-stealing role as a fanatical housekeeper.

Fisher's solid direction, Malcolm Williamson's eerie score, rich color photography by Jack Asher, exquisite period/Gothic art direction from Bernard Robinson, a strong (and very interesting) undercurrent of sexual eccentricity that runs through the entire film and excellent performances make this an underrated effort from Hammer; my second favorite of all their vampire films (that I've so far, still have a few to go!). The cast includes Miles Malleson as a doctor, Henry Oscar, Mona Washbourne, Victor Brooks, Michael Ripper as a coachman and Vera Cook.


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