“He was my son. Now he is only — a beast of the night.”
A teacher (Yvonne Monlaur) on her way to begin a new position at a girls’ school is waylaid at the castle of a baroness (Martita Hunt) whose handsome, charming son (David Peel) is kept in chains. Peel convinces Monlaur to release him, and soon his identity as a ravenous vampire is revealed.
In its follow-up to The Horror of Dracula (1958), Hammer Studios had to make do without the presence of Christopher Lee (who wanted to avoid being typecast, though he returned for later installments). David Peel — a devilishly handsome blonde — was cast as his pseudo-replacement, though the true heart of the story lies in Peel’s relationship with his mother, played (appropriately enough) by Martita Hunt of Great Expectations (1946) fame. The mystery of why Peel is being kept in chains — and the devastating consequences of his release by naive Monlaur — fuel the narrative, clearly echoing sentiments from the previous year’s Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). Hunt evokes much sympathy as a tormented mother whose existence is consumed by her son’s “lifestyle choices”, and Freda Jackson adds energetic color as a cackling servant who helps fill in details of Peel’s past. Cushing is also in fine form as Monlaur’s noble rescuer. This one is certainly worth a watch by fans of the series.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing
- Martita Hunt as Baroness Meinster
- Freda Jackson as Greta
- Atmospheric cinematography
No, but it’s recommended as a worthy sequel.