Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Goosebump Moment -- The Brides of Dracula (1960)

The same year that Psycho was revolutionizing the horror film, Hammer Studios in England was at the peak of its powers, producing a series of lush technicolor costume frightfilms that would become a staple of drive-ins and late-night tv for years to come. Starting with The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957, Hammer reenvisioned all the classic movie monsters in saturated color.

I don't know if these were ever considered truly scary -- they're mostly just fun because they're so overwrought, filled with huge ornate castles, swelling orchestral scores, seriously over-the-top acting, and plenty of heaving bosoms.

There's so much to love about The Brides of Dracula. First -- Dracula's not even in it -- Instead, there's a blond dreamboat vampire named Baron Meinster (take that, Twilight!), who has been chained up in his castle by his mother and cra-zazy nursemaid. And then there's the heroine Marianne who could not be more stupid if she tried, and who really hasn't grasped the English language.

Here's the set-up: Marianne has come to town to teach at an all-girls boarding school (now we're talking!), but gets sidetracked to Castle Meinster, where she falls for a smooth line and a pretty face, and lets the Baron loose from his chains. Soon enough, girls start cutting class at the school and turning up
(un)dead and in serious need of bronzer, until vampire hunter Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) comes to town.

As the clip starts, Marianne comes to the stable (huh?) to mourn her good friend Gina, who unfortunately appears to have been interred wearing an underwire bra under her nightgown. Gina, if the none-too-subtle subtext is to be believed, wants to be much better friends with Marianne....really, again this was in 1960! (and dig those crazy horse neighs in the background -- later to be parodied in Young Frankenstein).

I'm also including the trailer as a 2nd clip, which manages to include the phrases "pulsating throb", "sex kitten", and "blindingly handsome" all in a little over 2 minutes (this is a horror movie, right?) can you watch this and not want to run out and see the whole thing? (Turner Classic Movies showed it last Friday, so it's likely to show up again this month).

Tomorrow: Another repressed governess is seeing ghosts (.....or is she?)

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