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Young Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) wants to start a job as teacher at a
private school, however, somehow she is deserted by the driver of her
coach, & finds herself in a position that she has to accept the
invitation of Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) to spend the night at her
At first the Baroness seems to be politeness incarnate ... until
Marianne finds out that she keeps her son, the Baron (David Peel) locked
away & chained up in his room. The Baroness claims that her son is a
madman & ios locked away & chained up for everyone else's sake,
but eventually, Marianne manages to sneak into his room & talk to him
... & to her the Baron seems to be a very reasonable & quite
handsome young man ... & before long, Marianne decides to abuse the
hospitality of her hostess & free Baron Meinster ...
Of course, in a way, Marianne was right that the Baron wasn't mad, but
the Baroness had in fact other reasons to lock him away, the Baron, you
see, IS A VAMPIRE, & once free, his mother is the first he
sucks dry ...
Marianne, upon finding the dead Baroness, runs away in sheer terror
(even if she doesn't know what she's running from, to her the Baron still
is that handsome & nice young man), until she collapses right on the
street. Fortunately Doctor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) finds her, always
on the look-out for new vampires to stake, & he makes sure she gets to
her private school safely ... then he sets out to go vampire hunting.
Indeed, right the next village seems top be plagues by vampires, &
wouldn't you know it, castle Meinster is in the direct vicinity ... &
since Van Helsing knows that Marianne has freed one of the Meinsters, he
sopon goes to investigate ... & finds the Baron & his mother, both
vampires, but while Meinster escapes, the mother actually dies by the
stake quite willingly.
Meanwhile, Marianne has started her new job at the school, when one day
she receives a very charming visitor, the Baron, who brings by the luggage
she had left at the castle due to her hasty escape ... & before long
he asks for her hand in marriage ... & she wholeheartedly agrees, too
... That night though, Marianne's colleague Gina (Andree Melly) is killed
by a vampire (Meinster, of course), which finally brings Van Helsing
back to the school ... & he finds things worse than he had
anticipated, as Gina is soon enough back at her feet as a vampire,
Marianne is deeply in love with Meinster, & when Van Helsing confronts
Meinster in a nearby old mill, Meinster proves a valiant fighter, &
before long sinks his teeth Van Helsing's neck ...
But Van Helsing is not without resources, & as soon as Meinster is
gone, he burns out the wound in his neck, in order not to become a
When Meinster comes back to the mill carrying Marianne, he is a bit
surprised to findc Van Helsing alive and kicking (as opposed to undead and
kicking), but when they engage in another fight, the Baron again seems to
have the upper hand, & finally Van Helsing seems to make a cowardly
escape ... or so the baron thinks, in fact Van Helsing uses the blades of
the windmill to form the symbol of the cross, to once & for all
annihilate the vampire who stands exactly in the windmill's (& thus
the cross's) shadow.
After the success of Dracula,
Christopher Lee, who got famous with this movie, refused outrightly to
appear in any of its sequels, in order not to be typecast, & since the
heads of Hammer knew they couldn't very well substitute the
charismatic Lee with just any other actor, they took a rare gamble: to
make a Dracula film without Dracula, instead shift the
attention to its eternal nemesis Van Helsing ... a gamble that
didn't really pay dividend, since Hammer did not make any more
Dracula-less Dracula films, nor Dracula-films at all, until
in 1966 Christopher Lee returned to his role in Dracula: Prince
of Darkness. & you know what, Lee really did get typecast as
Dracula the vampire. He also made good money from it though ...
Despite the absence of Dracula though, Brides of Dracula is a
quite vivid & very colourful vampire movie that keeps things going at
a steady pace & in which director Terence Fisher once more proves his
talent for directing gothics. Actually the movie is so well-made that one
gladly overlooks minor plot inconsistencies.