Dracula’s Daughter (1936) Classic Movie Review 87

You're not in London now Doctor Garth with your police. You're in Transylvania in my castle.


Welcome to today’s show, Dracula’s Daughter (1936), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to classicmovierev.com to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review.

Today’s movie is Dracula’s Daughter (1936). This is a simple little tale that picks up where Dracula and Drácula (1931) ended. This brings up a question that has bothered me for some time. Why did Van Helsing remain behind in the dungeon after he killed Dracula? The simplest explanation would be to set up the sequel. Where they thinking that far ahead? Did they know the impact that Dracula (1931) would have? If so, why wait five years?

I think it may have to do with follow-up. It will become clear that I have thought about this too much in a minute. But if I staked Dracula, I would also cut off the head, burn the body, scatter the ashes, pour on holy war, encase in cement, etc. Just to be sure. I wouldn’t want Dracula’s bones to riding around in a traveling show with a stake where the heart was ala House of Frankenstein (1944) so he could materialize and remember that I staked him. A guess a healthy dose of paranoia can be helpful when killing vamps.


Edward Van Sloan reprised the role of Professor Von Helsing and really there was no one else as good except for maybe Hugh Jackman. Edward Van Sloan was covered in Episode 47 – The Mummy (1932).

Hedda Hopper played a small role as Lady Esme Hammond. Hopper was covered in Episode 81 – Sunset Blvd. (1950).

Nan Grey played Lili, an important vampire victim. Grey was covered in Episode 85 – Tower of London (1939).

E.E. Clive was cast in the role of Scottland Yard Sergeant Wilkes. Clive was discussed in Episode 7 – Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Gloria Holden played the role of Contessa Marya Zeleska AKA Dracula’s Daughter. Holden was born in England in 1903. She moved to America as a child. She eventually studied at the New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Holden had a relatively good career in theater before transitioning the films in the early 1930s with her first credited role being Wife vs. Secretary (1936). Her film career continued until 1958 when she had a tiny uncredited role as a party guest in Auntie Mame (1958). IMDB states that she was a Hollywood leading lady in B-movies, and supporting actress in big budget films. She is recognized for several important roles. He most remembered role was as Mme. Zola in The Life of Emile Zola (1937). This is followed by her exotic performance in Dracula’s Daughter (1936). Her third memorable role was in Miracles for Sale (1939).

Again, IMDB says that she had a profound influence on later culture. It is believed that her performance in Dracula’s Daughter (1936) directly affected the writing of vampire novelist Ann Rice and is mentioned in Rice’s novel “The Queen of the Damned.”

Also, Harold Winston, who discovered the actor Bill Beadle is reported that he renamed the actor in honor of his ex-wife, for whom he still carried a torch, and thus Bill Beadle became William Holden.

Gloria Holden died in 1991.

Otto Kruger played the role of psychiatrist and student of Dr. Van Helsing, Jeffrey Garth. Born in Ohio in 1885, Kruger attended Columbia University where he began acting. Kruger made his Broadway debut at the age of 30 in 1915. His first film, The Runaway Wife (1915), was that same year. He was occasionally cast as a hero in films like Corregidor (1943). However, he was more often cast as amoral or a villain. His important roles include Dracula’s Daughter (1936), Saboteur (1942), Murder, My Sweet (1944), and High Noon (1952). A series of strokes lead to his retirement in the mid-1960s. He died in 1974.

Marguerite Churchill played the role of Janet, assistant to Dr. Garth. Churchill was born in Missouri in 1910. Some of her 28 roles are quite memorable and include The Valiant (1929), The Big Trail (1930), Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and The Walking Dead (1936) with Boris Karloff. Her last movie was in 1950 and she died in 2000 in Oklahoma.

Dracula's Daughter (1936)

Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

Gilbert Emery played the role of Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Basil Humphrey. Emery was born in Naples, New York in 1875. During World War I, he served with the AEF as a liaison to a French Balloon Company. He made 80 films between 1921 and 1945. Some of his more memorable films include A Farewell to Arms (1932), Dracula’s Daughter (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), and That Hamilton Woman (1941). He died in 1945 in LA.

Irving Pichel played the role of assistant to Dracula’s daughter, Sandor. Pichel was born in Pittsburgh in 1891. He graduated from Harvard University in 1914 and started working in the theater right away. He founded the Berkeley Playhouse in 1923. When he moved to LA he began studying at the Pasadena Playhouse. He was active as an actor from 1921 to 1945. He began directing for 20th Century Fox in 1939. A lot of his movies were anti-German, pro-British films. Somehow this lead to trouble with HUAC and a blacklisting. While blacklisted he moved into film noir. He also worked in sci-fi. Pichel died in 1954.


This movie picks up where the two 1931 Draculas’ ends. Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) is was in the dungeon of Carfax Abbey when two Bobbies; a Sergeant and an officer enter. The Sgt. has the other officer stay with Van Helsing while he searches. Of course, there is the dead body of Renfield with a broken neck and Count Dracula dead with a stake in his heart. Of course, the other box was empty. Where was Lucy? Was this what Van Helsing was looking for?

Van Helsing confesses to killing Dracula and naturally the two officer took Van Helsing into Scotland Yard. The bodies were taken to the station as well. Van Helsing is taken to Sir Basil Humphrey (Gilbert Emery) to explain the murders. Van Helsing explains vampires to the commissioner and his story is essentially rejected. Van Helsing wants to hire his psychiatrist friend Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger) friend to defend him. The commissioner thinks Van Helsing with either be executed or committed to an institution for the criminally insane. He also tells his assistant that he will be sending a man that night to pick up the bodies.

In the small town jail, Sgt. and Officer Albert (Billy Bevan) wait with the bodies. As it nears 9:30 the Sgt. leaves to meet the Scotland Yard man arriving on the train. Officer Albert is not happy to be left alone. Albert hears a sound, and a mysterious lady with most of her face covered appears. He dark eyes are very freighting. The woman, who we are later introduced to as Countess Marya Zaleska AKA Dracula’s Daughter [Gloria Holden]. She offers to bribe Albert then uses her ring to put him in a trance. When the Sgt. returns with Sgt. Wilkes (E.E. Clive) from Scotland Yard, Albert is still under the spell remembering nothing. Wilkes says the body of Dracula is missing. About that time they hear a wolf howl.

At another location, Dracula’s daughter, with her face now revealed is saying spell over the burning body of Count Dracula. She throws salt for the protection of the souls of men. She shields her face and holds a cross over the fire. Her assistant/Hound of Hell, Sandor (Irving Pichel) arrives and she says she is free from the curse. Sandor has kind of a negative attitude and his dress reminds me of Rasputin.

The next night Dracula’s daughter tries to convince Sandor that she is free. He keeps bring her down. Finally, she realizes that she is still a vampire and the bloodline has not been broken. After he says he sees death in her eyes he wraps her cloak around her shoulders so she can go and kill. Sticking to traditional roles, she goes bites a fine gentleman. In Dracula (1931), men only feed on females and females only on males. Later they show the man dying in an operating room four hours after his last transfusion, just like Lucy in Dracula (1931).

In Scotland, Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger) is preparing for a hunt and a long overdue vacation. As they prepare, the doctor’s lovely assistant, Janet Blake (Marguerite Churchill) arrives in an open top roadster laying on the horn. She speaks to him like they are in a relationship. She tells him that Van Helsing has been charged with murder and Garth has to go back to London.

After Garth agrees to help Van Helsing he goes to a party at the house of Lady Esme Hammond (Hedda Hopper). There is a strange paint and his is told that the painter has just arrived in London. About that time she is introduced as Countess Marya Zaleska. Garth is taken by her beauty while Janet shows the green-eyed monster.

During the party, Garth mentions that they won’t press the murder charge against Van Helsing because they can’t find Dracula’s body. The topic of the party turns to vampires. Garth says that it is an obsession and it can be treated. Marya is intrigued and sets up an evening appointment with Garth. As he dresses, Janet gets snippy.

When Garth goes to Marya home he notices that there are no mirrors. Sandor interrupts and it is a prank call from Janet. Marya asks about her curse in an indirect way. He says she has the mind power to control her problem with the powers of darkness. He tells her that like whiskey before an alcoholic she must face a test to beat her problem. Sandors interrupts again and the call is from St. Mary’s hospital and he must go see a patient.

After Garth is gone Marya sends Sandor out to get a model so she can paint. Sandor finds a girl by a bridge that may be getting ready to jump. He convinces her to go back and model. When she gets their Marya is kind and the girl is introduced as Lili (Nan Gray). Marya feeds Lili and convinces her to take her blouse off. When Lili lowers the straps on her slip, Marya can’t resist. She uses her ring to control Lili and then feeds on her breaking the opposite sex rule. Lili is found wandering in a trance state and taken to the hospital.

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Garth chews out Janet and she resigns. Garth is called to the room of Lili and demands Janet continue to work. Garth examines Lili and says it’s post-hypnosis. The doctor shows Garth the marks on the neck. Garth orders that she be given adrenaline to come out of the coma.

When Garth goes to see Van Helsing and the older man says that it is the work of a vampire. Sir Basil Humphrey begins to discuss the murders like there really may be vampires. Van Helsing says the vampire must have a box of earth and there will be no mirrors around. Garth starts to get the idea.

That night Janet comes by but Garth sends her away. As Janet is leaving Marya comes in and Janet lies about the doctor’s whereabouts. Marya hears to the doctor talking and after confronting Janet about the lie she goes into the office. Marya says she is leaving London that night. Marya says she failed the test and Garth opens a hypno machine but when Marya finds it has mirror she refuses. She then invites him to go to Transylvania with her.

Garth is called away to examine Lili and ask Marya to wait and tell him the truth when he comes back. Sandor is out at the car. Janet comes back in and she and Marya have a little spat. Sandor comes in and kidnaps Janet.

Garth uses the hypno machine to get the location out of Lili. Garth goes out and finds Marya’s studio using the information from Lili. He calls Scotland Yard and has Sir Basil Humphrey and Van Helsing come to his aid.

Garth goes in and Marya says she is taking him to Transylvania that night. She admits for the first time she is Dracula’s daughter. She lets him know that she has Janet as a prisoner. Marya escapes just before Sir Basil Humphrey and Van Helsing show up. They put out a dragnet but Marya gets through. Garth follows her to Transylvania in a bi-plane.

Garth shows up in the now happy village before Dracula’s castle as they celebrate a wedding. A wolf howling puts a damper on the party. Marya wakes from her sleep. The villagers see light in the castle and freak out thinking Dracula has returned. What about the wives he left behind? Garth bribes the driver to take him as far as Borgo Pass.

At the castle, they have Janet in a trance. She explains her plan to Sandor which includes giving Garth eternal life. He says what about the promise to make him a vampire. Sandor is very unhappy. Garth makes his way to the castle and Sandor shots a rather large arrow at him from the battlements. Garth goes in any way. Marya is losing control and is about to feed on Janet. Garth pulls a gun out as he sees Sandor’s shadow. When he shoots at Sandor, Marya stops.

Dracula's Daughter (1936)

Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

Garth and Marya come face to face. She says this ain’t London and you ain’t in charge. Sir Basil Humphrey, Van Helsing and some police show up at the village in a car. Good plan. They find out he has gone to the castle and they head on.

Garth is taken to Janet and Marya says only she can break the spell on Janet but only if he agrees to stay and be her vampire buddy. Garth agrees to the deal only to save Janet. She begins to move in on Garth before she releases Janet. Realizing he is being replaced, Sandor shoots an arrow into the heart of Marya. When she dies Janet begins to recover. Sandor’s aims another arrow at Garth but is shot down by one of the police officers. Janet wakes, smiles, and hugs Garth. Van Helsing shows Marya dead body to Sir Basil Humphrey and explains the vampire thing.

World-Famous Short Summary – Couple has some nips before they commit

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Beware the moors

Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

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