- Ax 2013
directed by Lambert Hillyer
starring Edward Van Sloan, Gloria Holden, Otto Kruger, Marguerite Churchill, Irving Pichel, Gilbert Emery, Halliwell Hobbes, Billy Bevan, Nan Grey, Hedda Hopper, Claud Allister, Edgar Norton, E.E.Clive
screenplay by Garrett Fort, based on a story by John L.Balderston, which was somehow based on something by Bram Stoker
Universal horror cycle, Van Helsing, Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan)
This movie picks up exactly where Dracula
left off: Van Halsing (Edward Van Sloan) has just staked Dracula when the
police arrives, finds the dead bodies of both Dracula & Renfield & make
Van Helsing responsible for their deaths - & he even admits to having
killed Dracula, however his explanation that Dracula was a vampire seems like
the excuse of a raving madman - so soon he sees himself faced with only 2
choices - either the gallows or being confined in an asylum for the criminally
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Displaying a rather odd logic, Van Helsing demands to be defended by his
former student Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger), a renowned psychiatrist, & the only man (or
so Van Helsing thinks) who could prove his sanity & innocence at the same
Of course Jeffrey at first thinks little of Van Helsing's vampire-mumbo
jumbo - as does chief of police Sir Basil (Gilbert Emery) -, but then he makes the acquaintance
of beautiful Countess Marya Jelenska (Gloria Holden) ... who is in secret a
vampire & the daughter of Dracula, but she desperately tries to rid herself
of the count's spell, but only with little success. She soon sees the
possibilities of modern psychology though & seeks help from Jeffrey,
however, she feels unable to repress her urge to drink blood every night - &
her servant Xandor (Irving Pichel) sees that she gets it, too.
Soon Jeffrey finds one of the Countess' victims that has not (yet) died from
the vampire attack & when questioning her he finds more & more clues
that lead to Marya - & he becomes more & more convinced that her good
intentions are just a facade (which they are not) & refuses to further help
her, let alone (as she demands) to go with her to her home in Transylvania.
But then Marya kidnaps Jeffrey's assistant & secret love Janet
(Marguerite Churchill) &
takes her to Transylvania, which forces him to charter a plane & fly
after them - which in turn forces Sir Basil & Van helsing to go there too -
& in castle Dracula it culminates in a final showdown between Jeffrey &
the Countess ... which is decided though by an arrow a jealous Xandor fires at
her, ultimately killing her (as the arrow is made of wood), before he can be
shot by Sir Basil, who just happens to dash in at the right moment together with Van Helsing ...
Dracula, despite being filmed in
modern sets & not trying to hide it, has somewhat of a period flair to it -
not so this interesting sequel, which uses not only the modern sets to greater
extent but also mixes the vampire folklore with modern psychology, which is
sometimes fascinating, sometimes a little heavy handed ... but by far not as
heavy handed as later movies that attempted to do the same. Sometimes though,
the movie gets more than a tad talky.