|The Brides of Dracula|
|Directed by||Terence Fisher|
|Screenplay by||Jimmy Sangster|
|Produced by||Anthony Hinds|
|Edited by||Alfred Cox|
|Music by||Malcolm Williamson|
|Box office||1,266,561 admissions (France)|
The Brides of Dracula is a 1960 British supernatural horror film produced by Hammer Film Productions. Directed by Terence Fisher, the film stars Peter Cushing, David Peel, Freda Jackson, Yvonne Monlaur, Andrée Melly, and Martita Hunt. The film is a sequel to the 1958 film Dracula (also known as Horror of Dracula), though the character of Count Dracula does not appear in the film, and is instead mentioned only twice. Christopher Lee would reprise his role as Dracula in the next film in the Dracula series, Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966).
Filming began for The Brides of Dracula on 16 January 1960 at Bray Studios. It was developed under the working titles Dracula 2 and Disciple of Dracula. The finished film premièred at the Odeon Marble Arch on 6 July 1960. It was distributed theatrically in 1960 on a double bill with The Leech Woman.
A gloomy wood is seen as a voice is heard, narrating:
"Transylvania, land of dark forests, dread mountains and black unfathomable 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.
Marianne Danielle, a young French schoolteacher en route to take up a position in Transylvania, is abandoned at a village inn by her coach driver. Ignoring the warnings of the locals, she accepts the offer of Baroness Meinster to spend the night at her castle. There, Marianne sees the Baroness's handsome son, Baron Meinster, who is said to be insane and kept confined. When she sneaks into his quarters to meet him, she is shocked to find the Baron chained by his leg to the wall, and when he tells her that his mother has usurped his rightful lands and pleads for her help, she agrees to steal the key to his chain from the Baroness' bedroom and free him.
Discovering this, the Baroness is horrified; yet when her son appears, she obeys him and accompanies him back to his room. Later, Marianne discovers the Baroness' servant Greta, who has also taken care of the Baron since he was a baby, in hysterics: she shows Marianne the Baroness' corpse, and the puncture marks in her throat. Marianne flees into the night upon seeing this, while Greta chastises the dead Baroness for having raised her son on cruelty and cavorting with bad company in the past, which led to one such being – Dracula – turning him into a vampire and the Baroness having to chain him in his room and feed him any girls that she lured to the castle. Despite knowing the evil he intends for the village, Greta remains loyal to the Baron.
Marianne is later found, exhausted, by Doctor Van Helsing the following morning. She doesn't remember all that has happened, nor is she familiar when asked about the words "undead" or "vampirism". He escorts her to the school where she's to be employed. When Van Helsing reaches the village inn, he finds there is a funeral in progress. A young girl has been found dead in the woods with wounds upon her throat. Van Helsing contacts Father Stepnik, who had requested Van Helsing's presence, having suspicions about the castle and the Baroness. He tries to dissuade the girl's father from burying her, but he doesn't listen, allowing her transformation to be completed. Stepnik and Van Helsing go to the cemetery that night, only to find Greta aiding the newly vampirised girl to rise from her grave. The men try to stop them, but Greta holds them off and allows the girl to flee.
Van Helsing goes to the castle and discovers the Baroness, now risen as a vampire herself, as well as the Baron. After a brief scuffle, the Baron flees on a coach driven by the village girl, abandoning his mother, who is full of self-loathing and guilt over her actions with her son. Knowing that the transformation was the Baron's revenge on his mother for locking him up, Van Helsing takes pity on her and, after sunrise the next morning, kills her with a wooden stake as she slumbers. The Baron, meanwhile, visits Marianne at the school and asks her to marry him. She accepts, much to the good-natured envy of her roommate Gina. However, once Gina is alone, the Baron appears in her room and drains her of her blood.
When Van Helsing visits the next day, he finds the school in an uproar over Gina's death. After inspecting Gina's body, Van Helsing orders that her body be placed in a horse stable with people watching it until he returns. That night, Marianne relieves the headmaster's wife of her watch. Initially she is with the stable keeper, Severin, when one of the padlocks on the coffin falls off without unlocking. Severin goes outside to fetch another lock, but is killed by a vampire bat. Inside, the last lock falls from the coffin; the lid is pushed open, and Gina rises, now a vampire. As she approaches Marianne, Gina reveals the whereabouts of the Baron, who is hiding at the old mill.
Van Helsing discovers the body of Severin and enters the stable, saving Marianne from being bitten by Gina, who then flees. Van Helsing takes Marianne back to the school to calm her down, and makes it clear to her that the Baron and his vampiric consorts pose a danger to her. Reluctantly, Marianne tells Van Helsing what Gina told her. The vampire hunter goes to the old mill and finds the Baron's coffin, but is soon confronted by both of Meinster's brides as well as Greta. Van Helsing wards the brides off with his cross, but Greta, who is still human, wrestles it away from him, only to trip and plummet from the rafters, dying in the fall. The cross falls into the well below the mill and is now out of Van Helsing's reach as the Baron arrives. In the fight that follows, the Baron manages to subdue Van Helsing and bites him, inflicting him with vampirism before leaving. When Van Helsing wakes, he heats a metal tool in a brazier until it is red hot, then cauterises his throat wound and pours holy water on it to purify it, upon which the wounds disappear.
Baron Meinster, meanwhile, abducts Marianne from the school and brings her to the mill, intending to vampirise her in front of Van Helsing. As the Baron attempts to hypnotise her to make her compliant to his will, Van Helsing throws the holy water into the Baron's face, which sears him like acid. The Baron kicks over the brazier of hot coals, starting a fire. He runs outside as the brides make their escape. Van Helsing takes Marianne up into the mill, then out via the huge sails, which he moves to form the shadow of a gigantic cross over Baron Meinster, who is killed by his exposure to the symbol. Van Helsing comforts Marianne as the mill burns.
After the success of Dracula, Hammer commissioned Jimmy Sangster to write a sequel script, Disciple of Dracula, with Count Dracula only making a cameo appearance and the rest of the film about an acolyte of the vampire. This script was rewritten by Peter Bryan to remove references to Dracula, although Van Helsing was added. The script was then rewritten by Edward Percy. Jimmy Sangster, director Terence Fisher and Peter Cushing were also reportedly involved in rewriting the script. Christopher Lee was rumoured to have been approached to reprise his role as Dracula for the original version of this film, but this has never been 100% confirmed.
Producer Anthony Hinds stated: "My own personal involvement in a film like Brides was always 100 percent, not because I felt it to be my duty but because I felt very strongly that the pictures were mine. No doubt Terry [Fisher] thought they were his and Jimmy Sangster thought they belonged to him. And Peter C knew they were his."
Most of the interior shots were done at Bray Studios. The exterior shooting locations were in nearby Black Park and Oakley Court. The ending was to have originally had the vampires destroyed by a swarm of bats released from Hell by an arcane ritual. This ending was rejected by Peter Cushing, who claimed that Van Helsing would never resort to the use of black magic. The concept of this ending was used three years later for the climax of Hammer's The Kiss of the Vampire. The scene in which the locks drop from Gina's coffin was derived from M.R. James's story "Count Magnus".
The Monthly Film Bulletin of the UK wrote: "The genuinely eerie atmosphere of traditional Vampire folk-lore continues to elude the cinema. This latest sequel in Hammer's apparently endless series adds little to the Dracula legend other than a youthful, good-looking vampire, and nothing to the familiar Hammer format of inappropriate colour and décor, a vague pretence at period and a serious surface view of the proceedings." Bosley Crowther of The New York Times dismissed the film as "but another repetition of the standard tale of the vampire ... There is nothing new or imaginative about it." Variety called the film "technically well-made" but thought the script "adds little to the Dracula legend and follows formula horror gimmicks," and that "it would have been considerably more scary if it had been filmed in old-fashioned black and white." Harrison's Reports wrote that Martita Hunt and Freda Jackson were "excellent" in the film and the direction and photography were "first class," but that it was "not overly frightening."
The Brides of Dracula holds a score of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. The famous Spanish cult film director Jesus Franco credits this film as the one that inspired him to enter the horror film genre in 1961, resulting in The Awful Dr. Orloff.
The Brides of Dracula was adapted into a 15-page comics story by Steve Moore and John Stokes, which was published in two parts in Halls of Horror issues #27–28, published in 1983 by Quality Communications.