I watched Dracula’s Daughter (directed by Lambert Hillyer, 1936) for the first time a while back and was just a little disappointed, possibly because my expectations had been so high. I watched it again more recently and this time liked it a great deal.
Gloria Holden has an air of vaguely aristocratic exoticism and a slightly otherworldly air as well. This nicely suggests her eastern European ancestry and her vampirism, and of course it also nicely suggests lesbianism. And of course she’s arty, which adds to the effect. Her first appearance in the film is very effective. She’s also good at portraying the ennui of the undead. Irving Pichel as her manservant Sandor is nicely creepy. And, as Michael pointed out, Edward van Sloan’s van Helsing is much more effective than his performance in the same role in Dracula.
It’s a moody and atmospheric film, and it gives us an ambiguous monster – Dracula’s daughter is aware of the evil she does, and fights against it. She’s as much a victim of vampirism as those she kills.
Dracula’s Daughter is better in every way than Tod Browning’s Dracula – it has better pacing, a more interesting villain, and none of the drawing room melodrama feel that was such an unfortunate feature of Browning’s movie. If you wanted watched this movie yet I urge you to get hold of a copy.
7 out of 10