After his masterpiece "Dracula" (aka. "Horror Of Dracula") from 1958 Hammer's greatest director, Terence Fisher, did not yet return with another film starring Christopher Lee as Dracula, but with an eerie, atmospheric and downright brilliant sequel about a different vampire, and the greatest of all Vampire hunters, Dr. Van Helsing (once again outstandingly played by the immortal Peter Cushing). And this first sequel to the series, "The Brides Of Dracula" of 1960, became a Gothic masterpiece of its own that almost reaches the brilliance of the original.
On her way through Transylvania, Marianne Danielle (Yvonne Monalur), a young french lady who is about to become a boarding school teacher, gets invited to spend the night at the Castle of Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt). Little does she know, that the Couness keeps her own son locked up in the castle. For good reasons, as the young Baron Meinster (David Peel) has an insatiable thirst for the blood of young beauties...
"Brides Of Dracula" is a haunting, highly atmospheric Gohic tale from the very beginning. The great photography, and creepy locations, as well as the outstanding and eerie score build up a mesmerizing atmosphere. The unforgettable Peter Cushing is, as always, brilliant as Dr. Van Helsing, the role of his life besides Baron Frankenstein. But even besides Cushing, who is one of my favorite actors of all-time, the acting is great. David Peel is great and genuinely scary as Baron Meinster. This creepy Baron Meinster is one of the truly memorable vampires in motion picture history, and I it sad that Peel, who played the role with such greatness, didn't get more roles after this film and appeared only in two more movies. Martita Hunt is excellent and eerie as the Baroness, and so is Freda Jackson as her maid. Yvonne Monlaur is a stunning beauty, and greatly plays her role in he female lead with a lot of grace. And even the supporting performances are very good.
If you like films from the great Hammer Studios, "Brides Of Dracula" is a film you must not miss. The only real flaw of this film is that I found it too easy to defeat the vampire in the very end and maybe a minor issue but I was never sure why this film was called " Brides Of Dracula" when Dracula doesn't appear in the film. Anyhow, this is a wonderfully creepy and atmospheric Gohic tale with great performances, above all the brilliant Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. "Brides Of Dracula" is one of the essential Hammer films and, as far as I am considered, Hammer's best Vampire flick after "Horror Of Dracula" and Robert Young's brilliant 1971 masterpiece "Vampire Circus".
To sum up, "Brides Of Dracula" is essential Hammer-brilliance that no horror fan can afford to miss!