Cinema/TV, Dracula

Your Daily Dracula – Blood of Dracula (1957)

Your Daily Dracula – Sandra Harrison, Blood of Dracula (1957)

Having made I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, producer Herman Cohen was obviously obliged to deliver I Was a Teenage Vampire.  Though stuck with a bland title (Blood is My Heritage in the UK), this is that project, a swift remake of the less-than-a-year-old Teenage Werewolf with a sex change and a new monster.

Mixed-up teen Nancy (Harrison) is packed off to a boarding school and falls under the influence of Miss Branding (Lewis), a demented chemistry professor who believes that turning a teenage girl into a Jekyll-and-Hyde vampire through hypnosis and an invocation involving a Carpathian amulet will somehow put an end to male-dominated atomic testing.  This brief feature spends its first half on pony-tailed rock ‘n’ rollers (doing a choreographed jive to ‘Puppy Love’) and hair-pulling dorm tussles, with sincerely-delivered loony science speeches to set up the horror stuff, but really comes to life up when Harrison transforms (all too briefly) into a striking fiend with feathery eyebrows, rotten fangs, a dramatic hairstyle, a tight sweater and a fetching white scarf.  The make-up looks better in the film than stills, though the effective transformation scene is muted by being recycled within moments.  Jekyll-and-Hyde vampires are mildly unusual, though there was one in the same year’s The Vampire and have a precedent, distantly, in House of Dracula.

If it were a little less reticent about its hothouse of mixed-up female characters, this might have become a lasting lesbian cult movie, but there are still enough odd undertones to the conventional horror tale to reward a close watch.  For a rapidly-shot cheapie, it has a nice, noirish look.

From DVD Delirium, Vol 2 (FAB Press).


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