BLOOD OF DRACULA (1957) Reviews and film free to watch online

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‘in her eyes… desire! in her veins… the blood of a monster!’

Blood of Dracula is 1957 American supernatural horror feature film starring Sandra Harrison, Louise Lewis (I Was a Teenage Frankenstein), Gail Ganley (Not of This Earth) and Jerry Blaine, released by American International Pictures (AIP). It was released as Blood of the Demon in Canada and in the UK as Blood is My Heritage.

Virtually a remake of I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, the Carmel Productions movie was produced and co-written by Herman Cohen and Aben Kandel [as Ralph Thornton] (Berserk!; Trog) and directed by Herbert L. Strock (How to Make a Monster; The Crawling Hand).

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Plot:

Six weeks after the death of her mother, Nancy Perkins’ father (Thomas B. Henry) marries Doris (Jeanne Dean) and decides to enrol his daughter (Sandra Harrison) into a boarding school, the Sherwood School for Girls.

Nancy is immediately harassed by her dormmates that night, and Myra (Gail Ganley), their leader, tells Nancy about their secret club, “The Birds of Paradise,” and introduces her to Eddie (Don Devlin), a young groundsman whom the “Birds” take turns dating. Myra is the assistant for Miss Branding (Louise Lewis), the school’s chemistry teacher, who is writing a thesis about her belief that there is a “terrible power,” “strong enough to destroy the world – buried within each of us.”

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During chemistry class, Myra and her friend Nola (Heather Ames) deliberately switch a chemical in order to burn Nancy, causing her to react violently. Intrigued,  Miss Branding later talks with Nancy and gains her confidence. She then asks Nancy if she may hypnotise her and Nancy agrees.

Miss Branding places an amulet from antiquity around her neck, telling Nancy that it came from the Carpathian Mountain region and is capable of healing, as well as destroying – and has the ability to release frightening powers. As Nancy gazes at the amulet, Miss Branding hypnotizes her and instructs her to always obey her…

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The nasty politics of relationships among teenage girls has served as an extremely fertile seeding ground for horror films and fiction during the last 30 years, but in the late 1950s, it was almost completely unexplored territory … On the downside, this movie is hampered by extremely bad acting from most of the cast, and the vampire makeup Sandra Harrison wears is absolutely ludicrous.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

” …one of American International Pictures’ better and more enduring teen-horror outings of the era. Coupled with a lot of atmosphere and period appeal that was never anticipated by the makers back in 1957, the movie has grown in reputation since its original bottom-of-the-bill release…” AllMovie

“Commendably, Lewis plays the role absolutely deadpan, especially when explaining her quest for “a special kind of girl with special potentials.” That Miss Branding is a lesbian is also alluded to in the film’s first attack scene […] But, like everything else in the film, the notion is merely toyed with, then dropped. Worse, the action never works up any real energy, dwindling to a pathetically fudged ending in which Nancy’s impalement isn’t even shown.” Jonathan Rigby, American Gothic: Six Decades of Classic Horror Cinema

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“Neither as well-directed as Teenage Werewolf, not so well scripted as Teenage Frankenstein, and considerably less outrageous than either, its most striking feature is Harrison’s grotesque vampire outfit, which includes chalky face, batwing eyebrows, Lugosi peak and bobbysoxer sweater.” The Aurum Encyclopedia of Film: Horror

“Dim low-budgeter, all talk and little action. Dracula has nothing to do with it,” Howard Maxwell, The A – Z of Horror Films

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“Many screenwriters have succeeded at crystalizing the fears of a culture, but Kandel did so on a totally unconscious level. His scripts are sterling examples of a writer going inwards to create, and bringing forth results that are characters and situations embodying the concerns subliminally perceived in society.” Boiling Sand

“The film basically takes the same route as I Was a Teenage Werewolf, but never lives up to that effort, especially with Harrison’s monster turns kept to a bare minimum. But her wild bat make-up is memorable, looking closer to ‘Nosferatu’ with big hair than anything else, and an impromptu musical number, ‘Puppy Love’ is a hoot.” DVD Verdict

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” …obviously models its plot off of Werewolf, but it emphasizes the weaknesses of that movie while losing its strengths; there isn’t a performance here to equal Michael Landon’s, for example. The scientist’s plan to save the world makes no sense whatsoever, there are far too many scenes that have no point and lead nowhere, and the whole girls’ school setup is contrived and unbelievable…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

American actress Sandra Harrison as Nancy Perkins, a schoolgirl who becomes a vampire after being hypnotized, with one of her victims in a scene from 'Blood Of Dracula', directed by Herbert L. Strock, 1957. (Photo by American International Pictures/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“Almost silly enough to be enjoyable.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook

“Centering everything around women was a great idea. All the main characters, young and old, are female. It’s hard to call it a feminist film, unlike contemporaries like The Leech Woman. But the amoral professor does complain about the world “ruled by men, for men” and does make an example of female power.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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” … an absurd script and the horror sequences are not particularly convincing or horrific. But Sandra Harrison and Louise Lewis perform with such solemn intensity as to command a kind of respect.” Monthly Film Bulletin

Blood of Dracula sits, as the other Herman Cohen teenage monster movies do, atop the growing rift between teenagers and adults that emerged into the open in the 1950s, the sense of resentment, of being suppressed and misunderstood by adults that people like Elvis Presley and James Dean were tapping into. The film also interestingly introduces a proto-feminist theme…” Moria

” …entertaining in a kind of dated/cheesy way and it is interesting as a look at teen horror movies of the 50s. But beyond an almost historic/curious appeal, it doesn’t offer much else.” The Movie Scene

“The effects here are quite good! The vampire is pretty well designed, even if it does look a little silly, and the make-up people did a good job on Nancy before and after the transformations. It convincingly makes her look like she’s been put through the wringer, as opposed to emerging completely/totally unblemished, lipstick intact.” Not This Time, Nayland Smith

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“Certainly it is one of the better AIP films, and one of the better films Herbert L. Strock directed (which may not be saying much). And, let’s face it, the basic notion here, of dragging not just psychic powers but Dracula into the world of science (kicking and screaming all the way) is utterly batty in the best sort of way.” Rivets on the Poster

“This one has teen boarding-school debs spinning the platters and dancing with seat cushions, not to mention the Puppy Love’ production number. The other parts of the slow-moving snoozer involve pre-liberation feminism and risible vampire makeup… ” Mike Mayo, The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies

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“Low-budget chiller … in which a new student at a girl’s prep school turns into a murderous vampire after falling under the hypnotic spell of the school’s feminist science teacher … Stylized violence, hokey menace and sexual innuendo,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (1957)

” …the evil doctor’s plan doesn’t make a lick of damn sense. I mean she is trying to unleash a power within her that’s “greater than the atom bomb” […] Still, Blood of Dracula is plenty of fun. It’s got a silly-looking monster, cheesy transformation scenes, and dumb rock songs.” The Video Vacuum

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Cast and characters:

  • Sandra Harrison … Nancy Perkins
  • Louise Lewis … Miss Branding
  • Gail Ganley … Myra
  • Jerry Blaine … Tab
  • Heather Ames … Nola
  • Malcolm Atterbury … Lt. Dunlap
  • Mary Adams … Mrs Thorndyke
  • Thomas Browne Henry … Mr Paul Perkins (as Thomas B. Henry)
  • Don Devlin … Eddie
  • Jean Dean … Mrs Doris Perkins (as Jeanne Dean)
  • Richard Devon … Det. Sgt. Stewart
  • Paul Maxwell … Mike, the young doctor
  • Shirley Delancey … Terry (as Shirley De Lancey)
  • Michael Hall … Glenn
  • Craig Duncan … Police Officer
  • Edna Holland … Miss Rivers
  • Carlyle Mitchell … Stanley Mayther
  • Voltaire Perkins … Dr Lawson
  • Barbara Wilson … Linda
  • Jimmy Hayes … Joe
  • Lynn Alden … Ann

Filming locations:

Ziv Studios, 7950 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, California from 9th September 1957

Technical details:

  • 69 minutes
  • Black and white
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
  • Audio: Mono (Ryder Sound Services)

Image thanks: Wrong Side of the Art!

  

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