Giant Windmill On Fire: ‘Brides of Dracula’ at the drive-in in the Year 2013

In what was surely one of the greatest weekends of my life, I ran out to the parking lot a defiant 5 minutes early to Windex every inch of glass on my car, discard my tie, and don my Frankenstein t-shirt for a long drive to The Riverside Drive-In in Vandergrift, PA. See, it was time for the September edition of Drive-In Super Monster Rama, an event I had been anticipating since… well the April Ghouls edition 5 months earlier, but still!

It was the year 2013, I was newly single after 4 long years, and Peter Cushing would have been celebrating his 100th birthday. So I had nothing better to do from dusk to dawn than join my fellow drive-in sleazo horror compadres watching 8 ghoulish masterpieces headlined by the king of Hammer Horror: Peter Cushing. The bill was (in reverse order): Shock Waves, At the Earth’s Core, Asylum, Madhouse, From Beyond the Grave, Frankenstein Must Be DestroyedFear in the Night, and of course, Brides of Dracula.

Brides of Dracula was the spirited, action-packed, and alluringly atmospheric successor to the all time vampire splatter flick champion, Horror of Dracula. Despite the title, Brides of Dracula features about half a zero of a second of screen time for the namesake Count. No, in this movie Doctor Van Helsing (Cushing) squares off against a sinister Baron Meinster (David Peel) and his beautiful but deadly bloodsucking brides.

What did I learn from this movie? Well, pre-Victorian era doctors had business cards, one can nullify the effects of a vampire bite by splashing it with holy water and branding oneself with a cross, the shape of a cross made by shadow and light can light a vampire up like a Walpurgis bonfire, Yvonne Monlaur was a cutie, and the writer director combo of Terrence Fisher and Jimmy Sangster is a win-win for all.

With its lavish interior set design, moody cemetery scuffles with sanguinary fiends, and truly celebratory climax atop a burning windmill (later borrowed by Tim Burton for his masterpiece reinvention of Sleepy Hollow), Brides of Dracula is not one to be missed. Dare I take the risk of sounding elitist and declare: all true horror fans have already seen it. Well, except the new ones. I guess they can get a pass… for now.



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