HAMMER HORROR’S BRIDES OF DRACULA. (1960) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

yvonne monlaurTHE BRIDES OF DRACULA. (1960) HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS. DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL. DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY HINDS.

STARRING PETER CUSHING, MARTITA HUNT, YVONNE MONLAUR, DAVID PEEL, FREDA JACKSON, ANDRÉE MELLY, MILES MALLESON, MICHAEL RIPPER AND MARIE DEVEREAUX.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Oh wow. This is one of my personal favourites in the Hammer Horror canon of DRACULA films. It might even be my favourite of the lot of ’em if it weren’t for the fact that Christopher Lee is noticeably absent from the cast.

Luckily for his fans, the devastatingly handsome and sexually magnetic six-foot-five actor agreed to reprise his role as the Prince of Darkness in the 1965 DRACULA film which was called, coincidentally enough, DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS. Wasn’t that a big coincidence?

As you can probably see, I’m something of a fan of the late great Sir Chris. I’ve always felt a little bit connected to him through a series of other little coincidences. As a matter of fact, I joined Facebook on his birthday without knowing at the time that it was his birthday.

If that doesn’t seem like a big deal, well then, get your laughing gear around this little fact. On the day he died (not the day on which his passing was revealed to the public), I emailed my novel in three parts (then only two!) to Mr. Lee’s agent with a note asking said agent nicely to pass it on to him personally.

Entitled at the time ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA, now updated to FANGS AND FOREPLAY… THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF DRACULA, the lead character is modelled wholly on Christopher Lee’s Dracula in the Hammer Horror films of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Only with- ahem- added sexiness and tons and tons of sex and spanking.

Naturally, he would have read it, loved it and proposed that I write the film script for it. And of course, despite his advanced years, he would have wanted to play the leading role himself. If only things had worked out differently for us…!

Anyway, you’ll have gathered that, while I adore this film, I don’t dig the Baron Meinster (David Peel) as the head neck-biter here. Whoever heard of a blonde-haired Dracula figure? It’s an abomination! Other than that one little gripe, THE BRIDES OF DRACULA is sheer perfection from start to finish.

The stunningly beautiful and, sadly, recently deceased Yvonne Monlaur plays Marianne Danielle, a young Frenchwoman travelling alone through Hammer’s gorgeously-imagined Transylvania. She’s on her way to take up a position as a teacher of French and Deportment at a posh swanky girls’ finishing-school.

She does no teaching worth a damn in the whole film, though. Circumstances see her breaking her journey overnight at the castle-in-the-mountains home of the Baroness Meinster, a magnificent old dame with more chutzpah than a whole bevy of finishing-school beauties put together.

She’s marvellously played by Martita Hunt, an actress who once went up in flames in the dusty old surrounds of Charles Dickens’ Satis House as the lovelorn Miss Havisham. That 1946 adaptation of GREAT EXPECTATIONS, also starring John Mills as Pip, was the first time I ever saw Martita Hunt act and I never forgot how wonderful she was. I absolutely adore her in BRIDES OF DRACULA.

The Baroness’s feisty exterior masks a terrible sadness and an even worse secret. Nosy little Marianne can’t, of course, resist poking her exquisite little French nose into the tortured old noblewoman’s business.

When she finds out what the Baroness and her loyal servant Greta have been hiding, she most unwisely sets their ‘secret’ free. Free to wreak the most unimaginable horrors on the people of Transylvania, that is. And neither Marianne nor her pupils at the school will escape unscathed…

Peter Cushing is fantastic as always as the impeccably-suited and beautifully-spoken Dr. Van Helsing, the authority on the ‘cult of the Un-Dead’ who are threatening to consume the little village in an orgy of bloodlust and godlessness. He handles himself with aplomb and undoubted gutsiness against the horrors of vampirism and those who practise it.

Freda Jackson does a terrific job of portraying the crazy-as-a-loon Greta, the faithful old servant of Baroness Meinster’s whose mind is destroyed by the turn of events. Kudos also to Andrée Melly and Marie Devereaux, who make stunning Brides for the evil disciple of Dracula’s.

Miles Malleson (1888-1969) is brilliant also as the fee-hungry Dr. Tobler who likes the odd tipple. Like, every five minutes, haha. He plays a dotty entymologist Bishop in the 1959 Hammer version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (also starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing) who also likes a tipple. Very much so. A small sherry here, a small sherry there, they all add up. I wonder how much booze his on-screen characters consumed over the years…!

Miles Malleson was actually born the year that the scallywag known as Jack The Ripper cut a bloody swathe through the- ahem- working girls of Whitechapel, London. Isn’t that incredible, that he was born that long ago? It kind of boggles the mind to think that far back.

THE BRIDES OF DRACULA pre-dates all the nudity and sexiness of the Hammer DRACULA films from the ’70s, but it’s still more than sexy enough to satisy the naughty viewers who tune in to Hammer as much for the glamour as for the storylines.

The settings and costumes are, as always, fabulously-coloured and lavish, and it would be a Fussy Freddie indeed who doesn’t imagine himself back in nineteenth-century Transylvania when he watches the film. The film surely has that unmistakable Hammer Horror ‘feel’ and vibe to it.

And Yvonne Monlaur is surely one of the greatest beauties of the modern era. Those eyes and full, succulent blow-job lips…! Snigger. I mean that in the nicest possible way. She’s a knockout. And so is the film. Miss it, as they say, at your peril. And they’d be right. Un-dead right…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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