Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Retro review: Blood of Dracula (1957)

Blood of Dracula is one of those AIP drive in films that was made to cater for the growing teen viewers who were going to 'make out' (something I don't think we ever did here in the UK) rather than watch the film.
That said, it's not too bad, but as is the case in most of the 50s films, very blood-less.
Nancy and her folks enjoying a communal smoking session before school

Nancy (Sandra Harrison) is being taken by her father and his new wife to boarding school, to teach her a lesson for missing her recently diseased mother, no doubt. When she gets there, she is instantly bullied by the clique calling themselves "The Birds of Paradise", a secret society that everyone knows about apparently. There is a science teacher Miss Branding (Louise Lewis) who is more interested in her thesis about having a power inside that could destroy the world than teaching the class. Allowing her student assistant to 'accidentally' dab sulphuric acid on Nancy's hand to get a chance to be alone with her, and use her as a guinea pig.

Using an amulet she has picked up from the good old Carpathian Mountains, she hypnotising Nancy to be under her control, in a similar way to Gloria Holden in Universal's Dracula's Daughter (1936) but without the heavy lesbian overtone.
The girl's initiation party, a swinging affair where they dance with cushions, is interrupted by three local boys who are obviously up for a good time as they bring some records and one of them does his best party piece, a hip and groovy tune called 'Puppy Love' (no relation to the Osmond classic) which is actually no where near as bad as it sounds. The party is broke up when one of the girls is found dead, attacked by a snarling shadow, and drained of blood.

 A meeting is called with the police and coroners, when one of them mentions he just happened to share a room at college with someone from the Carpathian Mountains, and he described the legend of the vampire, and how the whole area was terrified of 'Draculas'. Yep, plural. 
The girls, terrified obviously, arrange a Halloween scavenger hunt, involving finding hidden clues in the local cemetery. Miss Branding's experiments and research, however continues to pick up steam with more horrifying consequences, especially for Nancy, who has taken to looking like a female Eddie Munster when under the teacher's spell.

Like I say, it's a fun little fun, and doesn't outstay it's welcome, and would be a good companion piece to AIP's other famous teenage angst flick, I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957) - which itself had the working title of Blood of the Werewolf before settling for the much more memorable name.
6 out of 10

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