• Daughter Of Dracula

    Released by: Redemption Films/Kino Lorber
    Released on: October 4, 2016
    Directed by: Jess Franco
    Cast: Britt Nichols, Howard Vernon, Anne Libert, Alberto Dalbes, Daniel White, Jess Franco, Fernand Bilbao, Carmon Carbonell
    Year: 1972
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    The Movie:

    As Daughter of Dracula begins, an unnamed narrator tells viewers that Castle Karlstein was once the home of vile murderer Count Dracula (Howard Vernon). In a nearby town, a sinister voyeur watches as a beautiful young woman takes a bath, then entices and attacks her. Meanwhile, as her mother (Carmen Carbonell) dies, Luisa (Britt Nichols) learns that she’s a descendent of none other than Count Karlstein (Daniel White), and among her inheritances is the aforementioned castle. As Luisa makes herself at home on the expansive estate, an inspector (Alberto Dalbes) and a journalist (Fernand Bilbao) set about investigating a rash of murders as Luisa grows closer to her shapely cousin, Karine (Anne Libert). She also stumbles upon coffins in the crypt, one of which contains the undead remains of Dracula himself. It isn’t long before Luisa, cursed with vampirism herself, is lusting after Karine, and plenty of hot lesbian sex ensues, until a mysterious employee of the family’s, Jefferson (Jess Franco), plants the seeds of the vampire’s destruction in the minds of the inspector.

    La fille de Dracula (better known to horror aficionados as Dracula’s Daughter, not to be confused with Universal’s 1936 lesbian classic of the same name) is not one of director Franco’s stronger efforts. After the major success of Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers in 1970, lesbian vampires were all the rage. That film, based on J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic novella Carmilla, dealt with a female vampire of the Karnstein clan, feeding her way through aristocratic society on the blood of its daughters. There’s no shame in seeing just how much Franco was influenced to follow Hammer’s lead, though he reduced the horror quotient and upped the sexual ante, as well as employed the cost-cutting measure of updating his tale to modern times. None of this is to suggest that Daughter of Dracula is a terrible film; it certainly has its charms, including an effective score from Daniel White (who also starred as Karlstein). There’s a surprising amount of full-frontal female nudity, with vampire attacks that border on the pornographic. Franco’s camera is erratic yet weirdly aesthetic, and his frequent zooms actually work to create an almost hypnotic effect.

    Unfortunately, despite these charms, much of the film is ugly. While the camerawork is often dizzying in its artistic endeavor, it’s just as often nonsensical, and Franco takes what can only be described as a “muddy” approach to the visuals. It may be true that the sex scenes are brightly lit, but they take place in sterile locations, from dirty bathrooms to unattractive bedrooms. The scenes involving the inspector’s investigations are darker and even less visually appealing, with Franco opting for a flat approach. During these moments, the camera rarely moves, unless it’s to follow an actor’s movements or to zoom in on someone’s face to suggest an element of surprise.

    Characters seduce, bite, and skulk their way through the flimsy but meandering plot. Regardless, the actors, especially Britt Nichols and Anne Libert, acquit themselves with some aplomb. Too bad the relationship between the two wasn’t presented in more overtly romantic as opposed to purely physical terms (for the perfect example of how this should be handled, check out Jean Rollin’s The Living Dead Girl, 1982). And the usually reliable Vernon is wasted in his role as Dracula.

    The film runs a relatively brief 82 minutes and is equal parts intoxicating and infuriating.


    Daughter of Dracula comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Redemption Films via Kino Lorber with an MPEG-4 AVC encode in 1080p high definition, presented in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. From the outset, it’s clear that the film wasn’t given a sterling new transfer, instead appearing to come from a raw scan of original 35mm elements. Some viewers may balk at this, but the image does replicate a theatrical viewing experience. Is it really sharp? Not generally, but there are moments when detail and clarity are high, especially during facial close-ups (of which there are plenty) or when focusing on fabrics or wall tiles. Instances of dirt and debris are also high, though these—along with a firm but a far-from-overwhelming amount of natural film grain—betrays the movie’s filmic origins. Colors are slightly faded, a problem that can best be seen in skin tones and natural elements such as trees and sky. Reds tend toward orange, while grays appear much too light. There’s occasional flicker and stutter as well. Despite these issues (which are more a reflection of the film elements than the transfer itself), the film still looks better than any DVD release and is a worthy upgrade for Francophiles, even if this is far from Franco’s best picture.

    Redemption has opted for a French LPCM 2.0 mono audio for the film’s primary track. The most important part of that track is not the dialogue but Daniel White’s score. The audio handles the score well, though dialogue is occasionally marred by slight hiss. Thankfully it’s nothing too problematic, and optional English subtitles are included (these are automatically set to play but can be turned off). These subtitles appear as white with a slight black outline to differentiate them from the background during lighter scenes

    There are a few extras, including the film’s original theatrical trailer (4:38) and a compilation of less sexually explicit alternate scenes (3:19) used for export to more conservative countries. The most important extra, however, is an audio commentary by film historian and Video Watchdog creator, editor, and contributor Tim Lucas. He begins with a discussion of the names Karlstein and Karnstein before moving into a discussion about the cinematography. He explains exactly why Daughter of Dracula falls into the director’s “quickie” category. Also discussed are the actors’ backgrounds and careers, the shooting locations, Franco’s use of the zoom lens, why Vernon got top billing, White’s score, various themes, and so much more. In more than one moment, Lucas ceases to speak and allows the film’s score to be raised to fill the void, often as a prelude to discussing what viewers have just heard (such as the “circus music” during one lovemaking scene).

    The film features eight chapter breaks.

    The Final Word:

    Daughter of Dracula is neither the pinnacle nor the nadir of Jess Franco’s career. It’s a maddening mix of the good and bad, featuring stylish directorial touches marred by the flat areas in-between. Redemption’s Blu-ray release is contained on a single-layered BD25 and is also a mix of good and bad. Some scenes contain a decent amount of detail while others do not, and print damage comes and goes. The result is a film and BD release that falls squarely in the middle in terms of both film and audio-visual quality. Francophiles will likely want to upgrade nonetheless, and Tim Lucas’s commentary is highly informative.

    Christopher Workman is a freelance writer, film critic, and co-author (with Troy Howarth) of the Tome of Terror horror film review series. Horror Films of the 1930s is currently available, with Horror Films of the Silent Era: Book One (1895-1915) and Book Two (1916-1929) due out later this year.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      Pretty much sums up the film and the Blu-ray. There is much to love albeit most definately flawed and If only for it being Britt Nichols starring role. Plays out more of a detective story than a traditional gothic, certainly compared with its companion films Erotic rites of Frankenstein and Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein. Still I like it quite a lot. Most Franco fans are kind of used to what irritates non Franco fans ie constant zooms, flat cinematography and drab interiors, but that's something mainly down to filming limitations. Franco could work to opposite ends as if you view films such as Lorna The Exorcist, Countess Perverse and even films such as Vampyros Lesbos then quite frequently the use of certain shots and inspired location shooting really adds to the film. Also Daniel White's music as with many Franco films really serves and succeeds at elevating the film.
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      Lucas asserts in the commentary, and I'd agree with him, that the film began as a standard thriller and was switched over to horror mid way. All the vampire stuff is shoe horned in and many attacks are all done without Britt Nichols. Seems the success of the first monster rally persuaded Franco and the producers to shift the films focus half way through. It's a tribute to Jess that what came forth is as coherent as it is.This explains much about the completed film, and why it lags so far behind DPoF & ERoF.It's really nothing like those 2 stylistically.