Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

draculas daughter poster 1936 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Weird lesbian undertones that are unusual for the time

Not enough energy, no Bela Lugosi

Movie Info

Movie Name: Dracula’s Daughter

Studio: Universal Studios

Genre(s): Horror/B-Movies

Release Date(s): May 11, 1936

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

draculas daughter 1936 countess marya zaleska ring gloria holden

I got my hypno-ring from a Crackerjack box…now I’ll rule the world!

With the death of Dracula, Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) finds himself the target of a police investigation for murder. Van Helsing’s claims that a vampire was the killer leads to the employment of Dr. Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger) to prove not only his innocence but his sanity.  Countess Marya Zaleska (Gloria Holden) is watching the investigation with interest and realizes that Dr. Garth could be the perfect person to help her with her own condition.  With Garth’s secretary Janet Blake (Marguerite Churchill) posing a potential interference to Countess Zaleska, Janet finds herself caught in the middle of danger.

Directed by Lambert Hillyer, Dracula’s Daughter is a Universal Pictures horror movie.  Following Dracula in 1931, the film is very loosely based on Bram Stoker’s 1914 short story “Dracula’s Guest” (but really doesn’t resemble the story).  The story was received with mixed reviews.

draculas daughter lesbian scene gloria holden nan grey

Countess Zaleska…you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?

Dracula’s Daughter is just an odd film.  The movie was never in rotation as much as Dracula or even some of the other sequels, and if it was on, the pacing of the film made it the movie you skipped in a marathon.  Watching it now, Dracula’s Daughter is interesting but not necessarily because of the “horror”.

The movie kind of plods.  It starts out with Van Helsing trying to prove his innocence from Dracula’s murder, but then it sidelines into the dull Dr. Garth being seduced by Countess Zaleska while being caught in a love-hate relationship with his assistant Janet.  Dracula’s daughter fights her urges to feast, and is a much more sympathetic character than Dracula, but her sympathy goes out the window when she takes Janet as a hostage to manipulate Garth.

draculas daughter countess marya zaleska gloria holden marguerite churchill

Ditch your dull guy…I’m more fun!

I kind of like Gloria Holden as the enigmatic Countess Zaleska.  We don’t learn much about her or her relationship to her “father” (which could have made the film more interesting), but she is an odd choice for a romantic (or horror) lead with her stern look and cold stares.  Otto Kruger is rather bland as the lead actor, but Marguerite Churchill is fun as a “his girl Friday”.  The movie doesn’t make enough use of Edward Van Sloan who returns to the Van Helsing role, and I do like Irving Pichel as the manipulative Sandor.

The main reason that the film is recognized is the strange lesbian undertone in the movie.  Due to Countess Zaleska’s picking up of a female victim (who she lures with the pretense of being a model), the movie has her feasting on a woman which was seen as shocking.  Added to the actress’s cold portrayal and her lecherous stares at Lili (Nan Grey), the whole scene is odd and feels really progressive for the time.

Dracula’s Daughter is a short oddity.  Since it isn’t a long movie, I can recommend it, but it doesn’t really have enough horror or scares.  The film looks good with the nice dimly lit sets, but Dracula still tops this movie in that sense.  Dracula’s Daughter was followed by Son of Dracula in 1943.

Related Links:

Dracula (1931)

Son of Dracula (1943)

House of Dracula (1945)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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