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One of Hammer's finest achievements - but not a great DVD
on 21 December 2007
Brides of Dracula was the first of Hammer's many sequels to their breakthrough hit, and it's not just the best of the series but one of their very best pictures. There's no Christopher Lee this time round - in fact, there's no Dracula at all - but there's a lot of imagination at play here in a beautifully plotted story that sees Peter Cushing's Van Helsing coming up against David Peel's Baron Meinster, a follower of Dracula's vampire cult, after Yvonne Monlaur's schoolteacher ill-advisedly releases him from the shackles his not-as-mad-as-she-looks mother keeps him in.
There's a lot going on beneath the stylish surface here - a psychiatrist could probably have a field day with the curious relationship between Peel and Martita Hunt ("We pray for death, both of us. At least, I hope he prays"), not to mention Van Helsing's visible discomfort in the company of women - but it never overwhelms the plot, and there's no shortage of memorable scenes, from the professor treating a rather nasty bite he just got to the servant silently offering pointers to a newly created vampire on its first outing as one of the undead. Reuniting most of the behind-the-cameras talent from their first Dracula film and throwing in a rather splendid climax in a burning windmill, this is definitely one of Hammer's finest hours. Sadly, though one of their best looking pictures, like the overcopped first Hammer Dracula the UK DVD of Brides is also a bit of a disappointment - no extras and in the wrong ratio.