Dracula’s Daughter is the original lesbian vampire movie. After the success of Bride of Frankenstein, Universal intended to give Dracula the same high quality sequel treatment. Although its rushed production was out of their control due to MGM attempting to purchase the rights to a potential sequel. Dracula’s Daughter is based on Bram Stoker’s short story “Dracula’s Guest.” Even though it has more in common with an early 1872 lesbian vampire novel titled Carmilla. I never attempted to watch Dracula’s Daughter before since it’s not the classic it hoped to be. The only similarity to Bride of Frankenstein is taking place immediately after Dracula.
Edward Van Sloan returns as a renamed Professor Von Helsing who just finished driving a stake through Dracula’s heart. Renfield’s body is discovered by the police, but John or Mina Harker are nowhere to be seen. Most of Von Helsing’s time is spent being questioned for murder by Scotland Yard. Otto Kruger takes over as psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Garth who makes the movie very talk heavy with his slightly comedic relationship with Janet played by Marguerite Churchill. Most of the gothic atmosphere is seen with Countess Marya Zaleska’s sudden appearance.
As the first female Universal monster given a central role, Dracula’s daughter can’t compare to her father. She initially wears a black burca and a hypnotic ring, but most of the time her appearance is ordinary. Gloria Holden plays more of a reluctant vampire who seeks a cure, yet cannot deny her urges. Irving Pichel also stands out as a loyal human assistant who finds fresh victims. The lesbian undertones are undenyable and kind of shocking for 1936. Zaleska having a woman undress before biting her is surprisingly risque. Zaleska takes Janet back home to Transylvania where she hovers over her lips for a long time. But it’s still Garth that she wants in the end. Though she meets the same fate as her father, Dracula’s Daughter can only go so far without the original Count Dracula.