Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

dir. Lambert Hillyer. Takes place immediately after Bela Lugosi’s DRACULA (1931). Gloria Holden plays Countess Marya Zaleska, the daughter of Count Dracula. With her father’s death, she desires to be free of the Vampire curse, and hopes that the new science of psychiatry may be the solution. A gorgeous looking film, with a subtle and effecting performance from Gloria Holden. The most interesting character innovation is to make the Vampire a bisexual woman who feels guilty about her Vampiric nature. The sexuality of our seductive anti-hero is not verbalised, but clear from the staging, and Gloria Holden’s wonderful performance. The Countess is especially drawn to beautiful young women, whom she captures on canvas before their disposal. Is she the ultimate outsider artist? This makes our seductive anti-hero a very early example of a queer women on screen, and maybe the first in Horror. The nature of the plot gives the Countess a broader sexual appetite, and we see her also taking young men into her studio, or it might just be for a light snack. The final act of the film requires us to believe that the Countess has fallen in love with psychiatrist Dr Garth (Otto Kruger), which might be more unbelievable that real world immortal bloodsucking vampires. The real sparks here are between the ladies. One fun surprise is the comedy, especially from the bickering constables in the opening scenes, and the stamp collecting chief of Scotland Yard. Some of the shots are very evocative of the breakthrough Persian language American film A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (2014). Many years later, novelist Anne Rice would model her own vampires on Gloria Holden’s iconic performance, saying “It established to me what vampires were — these elegant, tragic, sensitive people”.

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.