Did You Know Dracula had a Daughter, too?

In the Universal Monsterverse, Universal Studios made numerous sequels and tried to get creative with the titles for these films, ostensibly to create buzz and a connection to previous entries. While this made sense for Son of Frankenstein, which featured the son of the original Dr. Frankenstein, it made no sense whatsoever for Son of Dracula and Dracula’s Daughter. I have written extensively about the Universal Monsterverse and the various character arcs, monster mashes, and crossovers. As many have remarked in Universal monster fan groups on Facebook, The Wolf Man didn’t get a straight-up sequel, and I posit that it did. It’s 1931’s Dracula that did not, unless you count tonight’s entry in the countdown, Dracula’s Daughter.

21. Dracula’s Daughter – 1936

I am going to borrow quite a bit from my treatise on Universal’s Dracula for this entry.

It took five years for Universal to make a sequel to their 1931 smash hit, Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. Dracula’s Daughter was released in 1936. The studio had already brought Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and The Mummy (1932) to life in the interim, RKO had their own monstrous hit in 1933 with King Kong, and Paramount had jumped into the monster business in 1931, the same year as Dracula, with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring Frederic March. 

Edward Van Sloan reprises his role as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, now called Von Helsing for some reason. Von Helsing feels the need to confess to the murder of Count Dracula, whom he staked in his coffin in the catacombs of Carfax Abbey at the end of the 1931 film. His friend Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger), a noted psychiatrist of some renown, comes to his aid. Meanwhile, a certain Countess Marya Zaleska (Gloria Holden) arrives in London. 

The term “Dracula’s Daughter” is a misnomer. Zaleska is not Count Dracula’s traditional biological child, although she intimates as such, she is a victim turned vampire like Lucy (and almost Mina) in the original film. And like Van Helsing did with freeing Mina from Dracula’s influence in the first film, Zaleska thinks that if she can destroy her maker, she will be rid of her vampiric curse. With this logic, she would have been freed when Van Helsing staked Count Dracula in the first place, but I digress. She steals and burns Dracula’s body, to no avail. She turns to Garth who thinks he can treat her for her “addiction” as if she was an alcoholic or drug addict … to no avail. Zaleska, a portrait painter, lures her female victims in with the promise of modeling work and food and drink with her servant Sandor’s help. The fascinating thing here is Zaleska’s overt lesbianism and the fact that the film, directed by Lambert Hillyer and written by Garrett Fort, doesn’t shy away from it. Remember this is 1936, and the restrictive Hays Code went into effect in 1934.

During one scene set in a social situation, Zaleska distractedly deadpans the iconic line, “I never drink … wine.”

Zaleska kidnaps Garth’s assistant Janet, played by Marguerite Churchill, and races back to Transylvania, much like Dracula in the original novel. Garth follows but it is Sandor (Irving Pichel) who dispatches Zaleska as revenge for not making him immortal.

Presumably, Dracula was cremated in London, which makes the premise for Son of the Dracula somewhat ridiculous, but, as I have mentioned before, this sub-genre is full of absurdity.

Bela Lugosi appeared in 18 films for Universal but only played Dracula twice. Legend has it he didn’t want to be typecast in monster roles and tanked the audition for Frankenstein’s monster. Numerous websites give different reasons why Lugosi didn’t play Dracula again until 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. For whatever reason he missed out on four Dracula films – Dracula’s Daughter, Son of Dracula, House of Frankenstein, and House of Dracula. If he had chosen to reprise the role for a direct sequel, we wouldn’t have this gem of an avant-garde film.

31a./31b. Blacula/Scream Blacula Scream
30. The Lair of the White Worm
29. Son of Dracula
28. Vampire Circus
27. Innocent Blood

26. The Hunger
25. Countess Dracula
24. Dracula
23. Count Dracula
22. The Vampire Lovers

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