31-days-of-hammerWith Dracula a huge hit for Hammer they naturally wanted to make a sequel but Christopher Lee was reluctant to return to the role. So instead of resurrecting the Count, Hammer decided to follow the adventures of Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) for the next movie.

While traveling to a school to become a new teacher there, young Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) is forced to stop for the night at an inn. The coach she was traveling in is in cahoots with the Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) who likes to lure young girls to her castle. The Baroness invites Marianne to spend the night at her castle and the young teacher accepts. After being shown her room Marianne notices a young man in another room who is chained up.

Brides of DraculaThe man is the Baroness’ own son the Baron Meinster (David Peel). Not realizing that he’s a vampire that his own mother keeps locked up and feeds young girls to, Marianne enters his room and frees the Baron. The Baron then murders his own mother. The Baron’s servant Greta (Freda Jackson) shows Marianne the dead Baroness and Marianne flees the castle into the woods where she runs into Van Helsing.

Van Helsing escorts Marianne to the school that she was going to and then leaves. He’s been summoned to stop the tide of vampirism that has been plaguing the countryside. Van Helsing finds the Baroness, whose now a vampire, and stakes her. Meanwhile the Baron has started turning girls at the school into vampires and has plans for Marianne. Fortunately for her Van Helsing plans to stop the Baron.

One of the great things that Hammer did with their Frankenstein series was to follow the adventures of Dr. Frankenstein and not the monster. Peter Cushing played both Dr. Frankenstein and Van Helsing and he added a lot a class to the proceedings. sadly though this was to be the last that Cushing would play Van Helsing for a while. He wouldn’t return to the role until Dracula A.D. 1972 and by then the Dracula series was declining.

Christopher Lee would return as Dracula for the next movie but he wouldn’t be able to add much to stories – the amount of dialogue that Hammer gave him over eight movies was about as much as his brief appearance in the recent Hobbit movies. A couple of lines here and there. In fact in the next movie Dracula: Prince of Darkness he doesn’t have a single line in the film. Still even the bad Hammer Dracula movies are a massive step up over Hollywood’s more recent attempts to resurrect Dracula at the box office.