Blood of Dracula – USA, 1957

 

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‘in her eyes… DESIRE! in her veins… the blood of a MONSTER!’

Blood of Dracula is 1957 American supernatural horror 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, it 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, Branding later talks with Nancy and gains her confidence. She then asks Nancy if she may hypnotise her and Nancy agrees. 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, Branding hypnotizes her and instructs her to always obey her…

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Reviews:

“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)

“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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“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

“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 1950’s, 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

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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

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)

“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

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

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“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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“It’s a primo example of an early Herman Cohen production. And a fascinating look at how screenwriter Aben Kandel loads a film with the fears of the Zeitgeist. 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.” Doug Bonner, Boiling Sand

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Wikipedia | IMDb | Image thanks: Wrong Side of the Art!

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