(La Fille de Dracula)
Director/Screenplay – Jess Franco, Photography – Pepe Climens, Music – Rene Sylviano. Production Company – Comptoir Francais du Film Production.
Britt Nichols (Luisa Karlstein), Anne Libert (Karine), Alberto Dalbes (Inspector Ptuschko), Jess Franco (Cyril Jefferson), Daniel White (Max Karlstein), Howard Vernon (Count Karlstein)
Luisa Karlstein is called to the bed of her dying Aunt Edith at Castle Karlstein. Before she dies, Edith tells Luisa that the Karlsteins are a family of vampires and that her ancestor, the original Count Karlstein, lies buried in the crypt. Afterwards, Luisa goes and finds the count’s coffin and discovers that he is undead. As she takes Karine as her lover, a police inspector investigates a series of killings around the town, dismissing the locals who insist these are being caused by vampires.
The late Jesus or Jess Franco (1930-2013) is considered the world’s most prolific director. Between 1957 and 2013, Franco directed a purported 199 feature films. Many of these exist under a labyrinth of alternate titles and different cuts. Franco’s most prolific heyday were during the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. During this period, he was producing easily six to eight films per year. His output covered a great many different genres from thrillers, spy films and science-fiction but most of all horror and erotica/pornography. Franco’s films have attained a certain cult following for their arty pretentions, although just as many of them are cheaply made. (A full list of Jess Franco’s other genre films is at the bottom of the page).
The Daughter of Dracula was made around the peak of Franco’s career in the early 1970s. The title is a misnomer in that there is nobody of the Dracula family present in the film. Franco regular Howard Vernon does turn up in a few scenes dressed in a red-lined cape just like Christopher Lee but is named Count Karlstein rather than Dracula. It need not be said that the film is unrelated in any way to the similarly titled Universal sequel Dracula’s Daughter (1936).
It seems more than evident that Jess Franco was trying to emulate the Hammer films. The Christopher Lee Dracula films were at their peak of popularity when The Daughter of Dracula was made. Moreover, Hammer had just made their trilogy of lesbian vampire films – The Vampire Lovers (1970), Lust for a Vampire (1971) and Twins of Evil (1971). Franco seems to have primarily set out to copy these, featuring the Karlstein as opposed to Karnstein family and showing extended scenes of Britt Nichols engaged in lesbian trysts with Anne Libert.
What one must say is that while Hammer’s lesbian vampire films seems giggly and self-conscious about their erotic content, Franco gives us a lesbian vampire film that is presented with a far greater sense of self-assurance. Particularly good is a scene of Britt Nichols and Anne Libert tumbling in bed together, which is artfully intercut with shots of Daniel White playing piano. Franco places much emphasis on the erotic and the film offers up plentiful female nudity. Indeed, Franco gives us the oddity of a film where the vampire is more interested in being voyeur than in biting necks with an opening scene where a woman strips and takes a bath being watched by a vampire and a later scene as the vampire watches as another woman returns from work and strips before attacking.
On the other hand, The Daughter of Dracula is moribund as a horror film. Franco is distracted by his erotica and seems barely interested in the vampire element. Howard Vernon is introduced as the Dracula lookalike but the film keeps him in the crypt for the entire running time, sitting up in his coffin whenever Britt Nichols visits and only once emerging from it to attack a victim. Indeed, there are only two scenes of him in the crypt during the entire first hour of the film. The rest of the show is taken up by the girl-on-girl erotic scenes with some cutbacks to the detective (Alberto Dalbes) investigating a series of murders around the town, which never amounts to much.
Franco also makes one of his most substantial acting appearances in the film, playing the character named Cyril Jefferson who wears glasses and has wispy shoulder-length hair. In the end scenes, we realise that he is meant as the vampire hunter of the show – although this never seems to have consisted of much more than him sitting around cafes giving dire pronouncements in a languid way. Franco also writes himself some of the most ridiculously overwrought dialogue: “Death will rise triumphantly when the moon rises … Unfortunately no-one has the power to still the flight of the blood-drinking birds of darkness.”
Jess Franco’s other films are:– The Awful Dr Orloff (1962), The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus (1962), The Secret of Dr Orloff (1964), Attack of the Robots (1966), The Diabolical Dr Z/Miss Death (1966), The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968), Necronomicon/Succubus (1968), The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969), Justine (1969), Kiss Me Monster (1969), 99 Women (1969), Sadisterotica/Red Lips (1969), The Girl from Rio (1969), Venus in Furs/Paroxysmus (1969), The Bloody Judge/Night of the Blood Monster (1970), Count Dracula (1970), Eugenie/Philosophy in the Boudoir (1970), Nightmares Come at Night (1970), Vampyros Lesbos (1970), Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1971), She Killed in Ecstasy (1971), The Corpse Packs His Bags (1972), The Demons (1972), Doctor Mabuse (1972), The Erotic Adventures of Frankenstein (1972), The Silence of the Tomb (1972), The Sinister Eyes of Dr Orloff (1973), The Bare-Breasted Countess/Eroti-Kill/Female Vampire (1973), The Erotic Adventures of Maciste in Atlantis (1973), The Obscene Mirror (1973), A Virgin Among the Living Dead/Christina, Princess of Eroticism (1973), Lorna the Exorcist (1974), The Perverse Countess (1974), Eugenie (1975), Doriana Grey (1976), Jack the Ripper (1976), Night of the Assassins (1976), Sexy Sisters (1976), Greta the Mad Butcher/Wanda the Wicked Warden (1977), Call of the Blonde Goddess/Voodoo Passion (1977), Wicked Women (1977), Demoniac/Exorcism/The Ripper of Notre Dame (1979), Man Hunter/The Devil Hunter (1980), White Cannibal Queen (1980), Bloody Moon (1981), Oasis of the Zombies (1981), Revenge of the House of Usher (1982), Grave of the Living Dead (1983), The Treasure of the White Goddess (1983), The Sinister Dr Orloff (1984), Mansion of the Living Dead (1985), Faceless (1987), The Killer Barbies (1996), Lust for Frankenstein (1998), Marie-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula in 8 Legs to Love You (1998), Tender Flesh (1998), Vampire Blues (1999), Vampire Junction (2001), Incubus (2002), Killer Barbies vs Dracula (2002), Snakewoman (2005), Paula-Paula (2010), Al Pereira vs the Alligator Ladies (2012), Crypt of the Condemned (2012) and Revenge of the Alligator Ladies (2013).