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The Brides of Dracula [Peter Cushing]

The Brides of Dracula (1960) starring Peter Cushing, David Peel, Martita Hunt, Yvonne Monlaur

 In The Brides of Dracula, a young teacher on her way to a position in Transylvania helps a young man escape the shackles his mother has put on him. In so doing she innocently unleashes the horrors of the undead once again on the populace. Including those at her own school for young ladies. Luckily for them, Dr Van Helsing is already on his way.

Review

Frankly, Brides of Dracula is one of my favorite of the Hammer Studios Dracula movies. It’s very well done, with characters that the audiences cares about. Peter Cushing puts in a wonderful performance as Dr. Van Helsing. Even when the vampire bites him! And he seems doomed …

Cast of characters

Yvonne Monlaur as Marianne Danielle

Yvonne Monlaur as Marianne in Brides of Dracula

Marianne is the attractive young French lady, traveling to her first job. Along the way, her coachman abandons her at an inn. The kindly Baroness Meinster invites her to spend the night at her castle. Where she releases the Baroness’ son. And accidentally unleashing horror on the community.

David Peel as Baron Meinster

David Peel as Baron Meinster, the villainous vampire in The Brides of Dracula

Baron Meinster was the cruel son of the Baroness. In life, he became a disciple of Dracula. And as an undead vampire, he’s imprisoned by his mother at the castle. Until the kind-hearted Marianne releases him without knowing the story.

Martita Hunt as Baroness Meinster

Martita Hunt as Baroness Meinster, having been turned into a vampire by her own son.

The Baroness blames herself for the monster that her son has become. She tells the world that he’s dead … or insane. She kept him imprisoned, until Marianne freed him. And then, her son gets his revenge … By turning his own mother into a vampire.

Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Helsing

Peter Cushing gives one of his best performances as Van Helsing, the vampire hunter

Dr. Van Helsing finds Marianne the morning following the Baron’s release. He escorts her to the village, where vampire murders are already happening. He finds the vampirised Baroness, and stakes her … freeing her soul. He then attempts to stop the cruel Baron. Which isn’t easy. Van Helsing is clearly outclassed. But as seen in the final battle, he has a never say die attitude. Even after having been bitten by the vampire. Their final conflict is one of the finest ever filmed.

Freda Jackson as Greta

Freda Jackson as Greta, the Meinster family servant, insanely loyal to the vampiric Baron

Greta is the family servant, who has looked after the Baron since his childhood. She blames the Baroness for how he turned out. She accused her of raising her son on cruelty and cavorting with bad company in the past. Supposedly, this lead to Dracula turning him into a vampire and the Baroness having to chain him in his room …. And feeding him any girls that she lured to the castle. Despite this, she’s insanely loyal to the Baron.

Andrée Melly as Gina

Gina, Marianne's friend at their school.  She wishes that she would marry the Baron instead of Marianne …

Gina is Marianne’s first friend at the girls’ school where they both teach. And, upon hearing of Marianne’s engagement to the handsome count, Gina’s slightly jealous. She even wishes that she could be married to the Baron. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for …. You just might get it.

Other characters

  • Fred Johnson as Father Stepnik. The village priest, who suspected something was up with the Baron and Baroness. He sent for Van Helsing.
  • Michael Ripper as the coachman
  • Miles Malleson as Doctor Tobler. Strictly comedy relief.

What makes Brides of Dracula exceptional?

  • Marianne. In addition to being pretty, she’s sympathetic. After all, what has she done, other than free an imprisoned young man? Naive is a good description.
  • Van Helsing. He’s indomitable, and fearless. Even after being bitten by the Baron, he’s not defeated. He pours holy water onto the wound, and cauterizes it with a cross-shaped hot iron. Ouch! Cementing his status.
  • The Baron himself. He’s a true villain, who doesn’t even attempt to be sympathetic. Except to the lovely Marianne, who he wants to deceive. First into freeing him, then loving him, then marrying him.

Editorial review of Brides of Dracula courtesy of Amazon.com

Hammer Films and director Terence Fisher followed the excellent Horror of Dracula with this well-made, richly-colored sequel which suffers only from the conspicuous lack of Dracula himself – since Horror”s Christopher Lee had declined participation in further Dracula sequels for the time being. In his stead, we have young, blond Baron Meinster [David Peel] providing the requisite vampirism threat. Though imprisoned in the family estate by his mother,

Meinster is released from his silver chains by an unsuspecting French teacher [Yvonne Monlaur], through which he gains access to a veritable smorgasbord of nubile wenches at a girls” school. Fortunately, master vampire killer Dr Van Helsing [Peter Cushing] is on the case. Besides featuring some of the best acting, photography and period detail of the Hammer Dracula series, this is also one of the first to delve into the more sexual aspects of vampirism, with implicit suggestions of incest, sadomasochism and homosexuality.

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