A young teacher on her way to a position in Transylvania helps a young man escape the shackles his mother has put on him. In so doing she innocently unleashes the horrors of the undead once again on the populace, including those at her school for ladies. Luckily for some, Dr. Van Helsing is already on his way.
Only then will this bondage of hell be lifted from the world. The Brides of Dracula is directed by Terence Fisher and collectively written by Peter Bryan, Edward Percy, Jimmy Sangster and Anthony Hinds. It stars Peter Cushing, Martita Hunt, Yvonne Monlaur and David Peel. Music is by Malcolm Williamson and cinematography by Jack Asher. "Transylvania, land of dark forests, dread mountains and black unfathomed 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" The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula had given Hammer Film Productions enormous success in 1957 and 1958 respectively, it was success that transformed the British film industry's fortunes and put British horror on the map from there on in. The Brides of Dracula is the first of what would eventually be 8 sequels to Dracula, but before it could flourish it had to overcome a major obstacle. Christopher Lee, who had made such an impact as the blood sucking count in the first film, would not return. It's believed a combination of two things prevented Lee's return, firstly he was wary of typecasting and wanted to nail down some other acting roles first, and secondly Hammer didn't want to pay an inflated fee for his services now that he was a name actor. Is Lee's absence felt? Yes it is. For although in the main, with some nifty writing and a solid plot - with the makers managing to swerve not having Dracula the character in their movie - David Peel's performance as Baron Meinster is a little weak. Which is a shame because all else around him is gloriously lush. There's a little contrivance dropped in, and a logic plot hole the size of a coffin that involves the Baron being chained up by the ankle (erm, he can turn into a bat can't he?!), but yes, this is a top production that pulses with Gothic atmosphere and features some excellent and memorable scenes. With Fisher's direction full of classy shots and Asher's Technicolor photography deliciously ornate, it's one of Hammer's best vampire based movies. Cushing again is the star, and tantalisingly we are made to wait here for the appearance of his vampire slaying Van Helsing. When we used to watch Hammer films as kids we were always reassured once Cushing showed up, the actor had a class and elegance about him that made us feel safe when the horror began to unfold! Hunt is twitchy and regal in equal measure as Baroness Meinster, Monlaur is pretty and adds some continental flavour to the stew and Freda Jackson is just scary! Were it not for Peel's foppish and fey approach to villainy, it would be well cast across the board. Bernard Robinson's production design is one of Hammer's best (Castle Meinster, The Running Boar Inn, The Windmill) and Williamson's music is in turns ominous and evocative. From the eye scorching blood red opening titles, to the stunning and ingenious finale (the final shot is a doozy), The Brides of Dracula is a damn enjoyable Hammer Horror picture that's very much the equal of the first film. 8/10
Entertaining but standard Hammer horror picture that has some good visuals and decent acting, however note entirely memorable. Peter Cushing is fine once again playing Van Helsing but the "Dracula" (Baron Meinster played by David Peel) was hardly intimidating and the damsel this go around (Yvonne Monlaur) is pretty but unremarkable. **3.5/5**
_**Actually “The Brides of Baron Meinster”**_ A beautiful French schoolteacher (Yvonne Monlaur) travels to Transylvania for a position at a school, but is forced to spend the night at the grand mansion of Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) where she meets the Baroness’ handsome son, who is curiously kept captive in one part of the manor (David Peel). When vampirism breaks out Dr. Van Helsing offers his skills to save the locals (Peter Cushing). "The Brides of Dracula" (1960) is the sequel to Hammer’s “Horror of Dracula” (1958). It was originally supposed to be called “Disciples of Dracula” since Dracula doesn’t actually appear in the story. Instead there’s the unknown David Peel as Baron Meinster, who does a fine job, but he’s very different from Christopher Lee and more akin to Frank Langella’s take on Dracula in his 1979 film. The set-up of the story is similar to most Dracula yarns: Sophisticates from Western Europe travel to Transylvania and end up spending the night at a diabolical chateau where vampiric horror ensues. As usual with Hammer, the atmosphere is Gothic, the colors lush and the women beautiful (particularly Yvonne Monlaur). The mother is an interesting character and formidable woman; her reasons for doing what she does are understandable. For those interested, the nine Dracula-themed films Hammer did are: “Horror of Dracula” (1958), “The Brides of Dracula” (1960), “Dracula: Prince of Darkness” (1966), “Dracula Has Risen from the Grave” (1968), “Taste the Blood of Dracula” (1970), “Scars of Dracula” (1970), “Dracula A.D. 1972” (1972), “The Satanic Rites of Dracula” (1973) and “The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires.” Christopher Lee plays Dracula in every one of these except "The Brides of Dracula" and "The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires." Meanwhile Peter Cushing plays Van Helsing in five of them (although not always the same Van Helsing, since two of the installments take place in the modern day). The film runs 1 hour, 25 minutes, and was shot at Bray Studios, just west of London (interiors), and nearby Black Park and Oakley Court (exteriors). GRADE: B