The Brides of Dracula

The Brides of Dracula film poster
Directed by Terence Fisher
Produced by Anthony Hinds
Written by Peter Bryan
Edward Percy
Jimmy Sangster
Anthony Hinds (uncredited)
Starring Peter Cushing
Martita Hunt
Yvonne Monlaur
David Peel
Music by Malcolm Williamson
Cinematography Jack Asher
Editing by Alfred Cox
Studio Hammer Film Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) UK July 7, 1960
Running time 85 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
For the characters from the novel, see Brides of Dracula.

The Brides of Dracula is a 1960 British Hammer Horror film directed by Terence Fisher. It stars Peter Cushing as Van Helsing; Yvonne Monlaur as Marianne Danielle; Andrée Melly as her roommate, Gina; Marie Devereux; David Peel as Baron Meinster, a disciple of Count Dracula; and Martita Hunt as his mother.[1]

It is a sequel to Hammer's original Dracula (USA: Horror of Dracula) (1958). Alternative working titles were Dracula 2 and Disciple Of Dracula. Dracula does not appear in the film (Christopher Lee would reprise his role in the 1966 Dracula: Prince of Darkness) and is mentioned only twice, once in the prologue, once by Van Helsing.

Shooting began for The Brides of Dracula on 16 January 1960 at Bray Studios.[2] It premièred at the Odeon, Marble Arch on 6 July 1960.

Opening Sequence[edit | edit source]

The film begins with a shot of a gloomy wood (Black Park, Buckinghamshire) as a voice-over intones:

"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"

Plot[edit | edit source]

Peter Cushing in The Brides of Dracula

Marianne Danielle, a young French schoolteacher from Paris is en route to take up a position in Transylvania, is abandoned in a village by her coach driver. At the local inn, she ignores the warnings of the locals and accepts the offer of Baroness Meinster to spend the night at her castle. At the castle, she sees the Baroness's handsome son, whom she is told is insane and kept confined (his leg is chained). When she sneaks to meet him, he says his mother usurped his rightful lands and pleads for her to help. She agrees, and steals the key to his chain from the Baroness' bedroom. Upon discovery of this, the Baroness is horrified; yet when her son appears, she obeys him and goes into the next room. Later, the servant Greta (who has taken care of the Baron since he was a baby) goes into hysterics. She forces Marianne to look at the Baroness' body, and the puncture marks in her throat. Marianne flees into the night. She is found, exhausted, by Dr. Van Helsing. She doesn't remember all that has happened, nor is she familiar when asked with 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. He contacts Father Stepnik, who turns out to have asked the expert on vampirism to come here. Father Stepnik has suspicions about the castle and the Baroness. That night, Baron Meinster's first victim rises from her grave, aided by Greta, as witnessed by Van Helsing and the priest. Van Helsing goes to the castle and discovers the Baroness has now risen as a vampire, full of self-loathing and guilt. After sunrise the next morning, he "releases" her with a wooden stake.

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. Once Gina is alone, however, Baron Meinster appears and consumes Gina's blood. When Van Helsing comes for a visit the next day, he finds the school in a small uproar over Gina's death. Van Helsing gives instructions about the body — to be kept away from the school and with people watching it until he returns. As it happens, Marianne is alone with the coffin at sunset. In a scene derived from M. R. James' "Count Magnus", the locks on the coffin fall off (without unlocking), and Gina rises. She talks soothingly to a terrified Marianne, asking forgiveness for "letting him love me," and asking to kiss her. She also reveals the whereabouts of the Baron, who is hiding at the old mill.

Van Helsing discovers the body of the stablekeeper, Severin, and enters the stable just in time to see Gina escaping. Marianne doesn't want to believe the Baron is a vampire, but she does tell Van Helsing what he needs to know. The vampire hunter goes to the old mill and is confronted by both of Meinster's "Brides" as well as Greta—who, as a human, isn't repelled by the cross. Greta is killed in a fall but the cross falls into the well below the mill and is now out of Van Helsing's reach as the Baron arrives, brandishing a length of chain. In the fight that follows, the Baron bites Van Helsing and leaves him. When Van Helsing wakes, he realizes what has happened. He heats a metal tool in a brazier until it is red-hot, then cauterizes his throat wound and pours holy water on it to purify it; the wounds immediately disappear.

Baron Meinster, meanwhile, goes to Marianne and forces her to come with him to the old mill. He intends to bite and turn her into a vampire in front of Van Helsing. Van Helsing throws holy water into the Baron's face, which sears him like acid. Meinster kicks over the brazier of hot coals, starting a fire. While the Baron flees outside, Van Helsing takes Marianne up into the mill, then out via the huge sails, which he moves to form the shadow a gigantic cross. The shadows falls on Baron Meinster, who is killed by it, and Meinster's vampire brides die in the fire.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Production[edit | edit source]

  • 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. This ending was rejected by Peter Cushing as being too magical for the Van Helsing character. The concept of this ending was used three years later for the climax of Hammer's The Kiss of the Vampire.
  • "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." — Producer Anthony Hinds[3]
  • Christopher Lee was approached to reprise his role as Dracula for this film but turned it down and the script was reshaped by Jimmy Sangster.
  • Jimmy Sangster, director Terence Fisher and even Peter Cushing were reportedly involved in rewriting the script.

Novelization[edit | edit source]

  • A paperback novelization of the film by Dean Owen was published by Monarch Books in 1960, and features an entire subplot about a character named Latour, who summons the mystical bats to provide the ending not used in the film.

DVD release[edit | edit source]

  • A region 1 DVD edition of the film (in a two double-sided disc box set, along with seven other Hammer classics originally distributed by Universal International) was released September 6, 2005.
  • A region 2 DVD edition of the film was released October 15, 2007.

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. Brides of Dracula Heading to New Hampshire for Spooktacular 3
  2. Rigby, Jonathan, (2000). English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-01-3. 
  3. Little Shoppe of Horrors #14, 1999

External links[edit | edit source]

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