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  Son of Dracula Drac Attack
Year: 1943
Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Lon Chaney Jr, Robert Paige, Louise Allbritton, Evelyn Ankers, Frank Craven, J. Edward Bromberg, Samuel S. Hinds, Adeline De Walt Reynolds, Pat Moriarity, Etta Daniel, George Irving
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Count Alucard (Lon Chaney Jr) was supposed to arrive today in the Deep South swamplands near the plantation of Dark Oaks, but although his luggage is taken off the train, the man himself is nowhere to be seen. In the plantation's mansion house live the Caldwell family, including two sisters, Kay (Louise Allbritton), recently returned from Hungary where she invited the Count over, and Claire (Evelyn Ankers). Kay, however, has a newfound fascination with the occult, and after the luggage is delivered to the mansion, she goes out into the swamps alone for mysterious reasons...

Well, mysterious to the other characters, but we find out pretty quickly what she's up to when the old witch she visits in the back of beyond is killed by a large bat. A large bat, you say? What could it mean? Well, taking into account that this is called Son of Dracula, you can probably guess, but this was also based on a story from Curt Siodmak, the man who had offered the world the definitive werewolf picture in The Wolf Man, so the accoutrements of vampire lore were similarly well placed in a film that did not have many connections to the Dracula films that had gone before, or what came after.

It's not quite a stand alone work, but it is fairly self-contained, perhaps because once the filmmakers saw Chaney as a somewhat bulky and decidedly non-European version of the famed villain they cottoned on to the fact that he might have been a teensy bit miscast. This could well be the reason that he is sparingly used in Eric Taylor's script, but there are novel twists in this film that have brought some to the conclusion that this is actually a film noir in the guise of a horror movie. Mainly this is down to the character of Kay, who becomes a kind of femme fatale once Drac's fangs sink into her neck.

I say fangs, but like the other Universal vampires Chaney just implements his usual gnashers, although we do see a bat or two settling on their victims. In those times of war that this was filmed during, you might have thought it would present at least mixed feelings over immigrants from Europe, but this does not appear to have crossed the filmmakers' minds, as what has attracted them is the Old World menace and how it plays in modern America. The film is undoubtedly atmospheric, thanks to excellent photography by George Robinson, which assists in papering over any low budget look.

Among the most interesting characters is poor old Frank (Robert Paige), who begins unpromisingly as a stock romantic lead, but whose attachment to Kay leads him to unexpected depths. Kay is vampirised by Alucard (or Dracula spelled backwards - the film can hardly wait to reveal this ingenuity) after being married to him, though it was not love she was after from this bloodsucking bruiser but the gift of immortality. So when Frank shoots at Drac and hits Kay (the bullets go right through the Count) he thinks he's killed her and essentially suffers a breakdown. Until Kay materialises in his jail cell, that is, and offers him the same immortality if he will stake Dracula. With not one but two Van Helsings on the case, you'd think he would be cornered before Frank got to him, but the finale takes on a tragic cast as we wonder exactly how sane poor Frank now is. Music by Hans J. Salter.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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