Daughter of Dracula (1972) Blu-ray Review: Oh, the Horror

Prior to his departure from this world in early 2013, the late Jesús Franco had left an impressive looking resume behind in which his services as a film director totaled over 200. This did not include his work as a screenwriter, producer, composer, editor, cinematographer, or any of the other jobs Franco often handled himself for productions belonging to either he or another. Put simply: Franco kept himself very busy, right up until the end. His work has become the subject of many obsessed individuals around the world, and the bulk of his career has been printed in at least two biographies, most notably the 1993 book Obsession: The Films of Jess Franco, co-written by Video Watchdog founder/editor Tim Lucas.

My own personal experiences with Jess Franco’s filmic output has ranged from minor to mild throughout the years, although I did tend to put in a little extra time during my tenure as a teenaged boy with raging hormones, as a good deal of the late Spanish filmmaker’s movies were ripe with nudity and sex. The subject of this particular offering, Daughter of Dracula, offers no exception when it comes to showing us some skin ‒ indeed, were it not for the occasional half-assed attempt at trying to convince its viewers the movie in question does contain an actual plot, that is about all this one has going for it. And even then, that really isn’t saying too terribly much, as Daughter of Dracula is a bit of an abomination.

From an artistic point of view, that is. Franco’s unique method of filmmaking is the type of thing that only a true fan can appreciate. To anyone else, it will seem like pure unadulterated hell. And since I am only a very minor fan of Uncle Jess (although I’ll take Attack of the Robots, The Diabolical Dr. Z, or Count Dracula over this any old day; heck, I might even watch Bloody Moon again over this!), Franco’s 1972 softcore vampire horror flick was quite “challenging” to endure. In fact, it took me several nights to make it all of the way through the 82-minute movie, and even by viewing the picture via regular installments, I still found myself dozing off after what seemed like a small eternity, only to discover I hadn’t progressed more than 15 minutes each time.

My overall memory of this French/Portuguese co-production ‒ and, mind you, it’s only been a couple of days ‒ is vague and hazy at best. I recall there being a few beautiful young women, lots of nudity, music that only added to the sleep-inducing lethargy that seemed to be ingrained into every single mind-numbing frame, and something about a murder mystery. But what stands out the most in my mind was the film’s negligent form of photography, which ‒ like many of Franco’s films from the same period ‒ makes me wonder if his cinematographer (in this instance, the pre-shaky cam form of shaky cam is credited to a feller by the handle of José Climent) didn’t suffer from both Attention Deficit Disorder and Parkinson’s Disease. Maybe apathy, too.

Some of the actors and actresses who managed to appear in other movies after Daughter of Dracula are Britt Nichols, Anne Libert, Howard Vernon (in his second and final portrayal as Count Dracula, having previously played the character in Franco’s Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein a few months prior), Alberto Dalbés, and Daniel White ‒ the latter of whom also provided us with that awful hypnotizing music score. Franco’s late wife/muse, Lina Romay, also makes an appearance here, as does our do-it-yourself auteur himself, who pops up as a sinister sort of fellow calling himself Cyril Jefferson (because nothing strikes fear and uncertainty into the hearts of men than a man named Cyril Jefferson).

Culled from what appears to have been a nice-looking 35mm print, Redemption’s Blu-ray presentation for Daughter of Dracula contains a number of imperfections, which really should not be of any concern whatsoever considering the nature of the movie itself. Francly, it looks pretty darn good, preserving the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and the same goes for the original LPCM 2.0 French audio, for which newly-translated English subtitles are provided. Special features (yes, this title gets some) include an audio commentary by the aforementioned, always informative Tim Lucas, which I would honestly recommend over the main audio option, just to spare yourself (perhaps some) of the anguish.

Lastly for this release, there is some alternate footage from one of the film’s many softcore sex scenes. But, before you get too excited (and really, you shouldn’t), said alternate sex footage is actually clothed. Thanks to another individual named Franco (see: history), scenes involving stuff revolving around the nookie were strictly forbidden to be shown on Spanish soil, leaving many filmmakers to shoot alternate takes in order to procure any bookings in Spain (whereas Spanish filmmakers would shoot nude scenes in order to make money with showings abroad!). If you can imagine a softcore lesbian sex scene without the nudity, you’ve pretty much got it. A theatrical trailer in standard-definition wraps this snoozer up.

Ultimately, Daughter of Dracula isn’t what the movie is about (or what it’s supposed to be about, as it were). Rather, this surrealistic journey into anti-art, seemingly sightless expressionism, and numerous unveilings of tender flesh (but mostly tits and ass) is more fascinating because of what it isn’t. It isn’t stylish. It isn’t substantial. And it most certainly isn’t good. But of course, that’s what the ever-growing legion of Francophiles around the globe have come to expect and appreciate here. In short: peruse Daughter of Dracula at your own leisure, but with extreme caution. (And under no circumstances are you to view this motion picture while driving or operating heavy equipment.)

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Luigi Bastardo

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