Daughter of Dracula
Redemption Films // Unrated // $29.95 // October 4, 2016
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 28, 2016
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version

The Movie:

As Jess Franco's 1972 film La fille de Dracula (or, if you prefer, Dracula's Daughter) opens, we're told by way of some narration that Castle Karlstein was once the home of none other than the notorious Count Dracula himself. When some murders take place in the surrounding town, Inspector Ptsuschko (Alberto Dalbes) ignores the locals, most of whom seem to think that the murders tie into the castle's history. Coincidently enough, around the same time that these murders occur, a beautiful young woman named Luisa Karlstein (Britt Nichols) arrives, to take up residence in the castle and visit her mother, Baroness Karlstein (Carmen Carbonell), who is not long for this world. As the last direct descendent Count Karlstein (Daniel White), Luisa is all set to inherit the castle and all of the secrets that it holds! As such, the Baroness gives Luisa the key to the family tomb and is told about their past.

Also puttering about the castle is Luisa's cousin, Karine (Anne Libert), a man named Jefferson (Jess Franco himself) and a nosy journalist named Charlie (Fernando Bilbao) who is working alongside Ptsuschko in hopes of figuring out who is really responsible for the murders. As the bit part players all do their best to solve the crime, Luisa explores the aged crypt where her ancestors have been laid to rest only to come face to face with Count Dracula (Howard Vernon) himself! Of course, Luisa finds herself unable to fight back against the family curse, and before you know it she's skulking about the place in the middle of the night trying to put the moves on her sexy cousin. Jefferson, however, knows the truth about Luisa's family and with his help, Charlie and Ptsuschko just might be able to put a stop to the killings once and for all.

More concerned with sex than with horror, this isn't a particularly frightening effort but it is nicely shot and plenty atmospheric. Franco always had a knack for choosing great locations for his pictures (Francophiles may recognize some of the choices here from other entries in his filmography) and those employed in Dracula's Daughter rank up there with some of his best. The castle itself is loaded with plenty of interesting décor and moody shadows, while the family crypt is perfectly eerie and just right for the story. The exteriors feature some great work on the coastline and there was clearly quite a bit of care put into getting the visuals nailed down properly for this picture.

Like a lot of Franco's films from this era, lesbianism is a big thematic element. As was the norm for most of his vampire pictures, Franco ties Sapphic liaisons into a big part of what makes his titular character do what she does. We know from the moment she spies her cousin that she's attracted to her, and once Dracula has turned her into one of his own children of the night, she's got no reason to hold back. Britt Nichols plays Luisa very well. She's not only a beautiful woman but she has a certain something about her that makes her vulnerable and determined all at the same time. The screen time that she shares with the equally alluring Anne Libert is impressive to say the least. Of course, throwing Howard Vernon into the mix is par for the course with seventies Franco films, and he's a lot of fun to watch playing Dracula himself in the picture. Carmen Carbonell is good, if underused, as the Baroness while Alberto Dalbes, Fernando Bilbao and Franco himself round out the supporting players surprisingly well. Daniel White's turn as Count Karlstein is fine, but more impressive than his acting is the score that he composed for the picture. It's quite emotive, occasionally bringing a sense of melancholy to the proceedings that actually works quite nicely in the picture's favor.

The pacing is weird and the themes and ideas more dreamlike than logical, but it's a beautiful looking movie. The story is a bit predictable but it is well told thanks to some decent performances. This isn't the best Franco film from this period but it's a very good one.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Dracula's Daughter arrives on a 25GB Blu-ray disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at 2.35.1. widescreen. Those familiar with the other releases in Kino/Redemption's line of vintage Franco and Rollin films will know what to expect here: a decent presentation of unrestored elements. There's a bit of print damage evident throughout. It's not a constant and some scenes show it more obviously than others, but it's there, mostly in the form of scratches and white specs. Colors look decent, however, and black levels are fine except for a few scenes where contrast wavers a bit. This looks to have more to do with the elements and original photography rather than the transfer itself. There's a natural amount of film grain here, no obvious use of noise reduction or edge enhancement to note. All in all, this is a decent transfer, it's just not pristine.

Sound:

The main audio option for each feature is a French language LPCM 2.0 Mono with optional subtitles provided in English only. There's a little bit of hiss present at times but nothing too serious. Aside from that the track is well balanced and Daniel White's score occasionally shows some decent depth and range.

Extras:

The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary with Tim Lucas who, as is the norm for his tracks, has clearly done his homework. Lucas offers up plenty of critical insight in regards to the stronger parts of the film, making some interesting comparisons to other vampire films of the era and to other Franco films in particular. He also talks about the involvement of the cast and crew that Franco worked with on this picture, delivering some interesting information about Nichols, Liebert and White. He also makes some interesting observations about the locations employed in the picture, the score and the recurring themes that we see in a lot of Jess Franco's work from this period. It's well a paced and informative track that fans should appreciate.

The disc also includes just over three minutes of ‘safe' footage (which is basically just softer footage shot to make the fairly graphic lesbian sex scene a bit tamer), the film's original theatrical trailer, static menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Dracula's Daughter sees Franco in fine form, delivering his trademark mix of sex and violence with plenty of style in a film that features a pretty solid cast and some gorgeous camerawork. The Blu-ray release presents the film unrestored but in a perfectly watchable high definition transfer and with a pretty interesting commentary track as its main supplement. This won't convert those who don't already appreciate the director's style, but for those who do, this is an easy recommendation.



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