Papa Was a Rollin’ Dracula

Papa Was a Rollin’ Dracula March 24, 2013

I finally watched Dracula’s Daughter, sometimes called the first lesbian vampire movie. It’s… a mixed bag. All scenes in which the aforementioned Daughter are offscreen are slow and boring, and the jealous-woman subplot is painful. The gowns are awesome! Also the furs.

I thought the sapphic subtext was more blatant than Final Girl did (and yes, I basically stole my post title idea from her). I do agree with this: “Gloria Holden is appropriately mesmerizing as the Countess–her reluctance to play a role she feared would hinder her burgeoning career (as Lugosi complained of Dracula) informs her performance with a haughty discomfort that relays Zaleska’s discomfort well.” Holden is very Tamara de Lempicka in the face, and she has wonderfully poignant, articulate hands. They’re the focus of the first three screenshots at that FG post. (The third one, IIRC, is the one used in The Celluloid Closet.)

The plot was unexpectedly affecting. Dracula’s daughter/victim, the Countess Zaleska, is desperate to free herself from vampirism. She was taught this behavior by her father and now it dominates her thoughts and overrides her willpower and her better self. Terrible life lessons your parents taught you–that’s a horror premise with real bite.

She tries psychiatry (!) but it fails her pretty quickly, and the bright shiny fix-it attitude of the doctor with his whirligig psychiatric contraption turns to total condemnation. The movie is only about an hour long and there’s way too much not-Dracula’s-Daughter content, so her descent into despair happens very fast.

This is obviously a B-movie at best, but Holden is compelling enough to make it worth watching if what I’ve said above intrigues you.

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