Welcome Mortal Readers and fellow Vampyres, Count Basarab at your service with my first Classical Vampyre Review!
As the sickle moon begins to peak above the Castle Fortress in my beloved Wallachia, and having feasted on that lovely Brunette villager from București I 'bumped' into the previous night, it came time for me to settle down and watch one of my favourite vampire movies to start off the evening.
Brides of Dracula is a little gem of Horror, Hammer Films' second foray into my dark domain of Vampyrism, and from the lovely font of the title sequence to the silly demise of my fellow Undead, I found myself pondering what it would be like to take on such a foe as Van Helsing, if one such Hunter came to my hometown of Târgovişte in a foolish attempt to end my centuries of Undead existence.
The story begins with the young and beautiful French school teacher Marianne, travelling to Transylvania by stage coach to teach at a Finishing school there. She is waylaid at a nearby village inn by a clever manservant of Baroness Meinster, who herself is a hypocritical old fool who loathes her son's Vampyric state, but finds it perfectly reasonable to kidnap young maidens to keep her son's blood-thirst quenched.
Upon accepting an invite to stay at the her Castle, one that almost mirrors my own in grandeur, Marianne discovers the existence of the Baroness' son who is trapped in a separate part of the Castle, his leg chained tight with foul silver so he can not escape, nor can he summon his shape-shifting abilities to take flight.
Always relying on the persistent stupidity of mortals, Baron Meinster tricks this beautiful French idiot into finding the key for the chain and releasing him, where the first thing he does is turn his mother and allow Marianne to leave the Castle, intent on finding her after he puts some affairs in order.
Having no clue as to where she is, the French beauty passes out in the woods, only to be found conveniently by Professor Van Helsing, who apparently managed to kill the King of All Vampires in the previous film. If that was the case, what chance do these young disciples have?
Van Helsing begins to piece together the mystery of the town's Undead Cult, and whilst the Baron is making Brides of his own, that to me seem utterly incompetent, he proposes to Marianne during her stay at the school, but is foiled by the Headmaster into making her a Bride right there.
Van Helsing discovers the Baron's plan, and his new hideout (more fledgling incompetence!) and confronts the Baron in his new lair, which is a run down mill. At first it seems the Baron has the upper hand when he passes on the Undead curse in an ironic fashion to our seasoned hunter, and then storms off to claim his head Bride once and for all. The Baron returns unaware of Helsing's vampire 'cure' of fire branding and Holy Water, and with the same Holy Water he weakens the overconfident Baron and pins him to the courtyard outside with the shadow of a windmill sail in the form of the cross, crushing him into the Earth below.
What I would have done:
The Baron was off to a good start, but made some critical and overconfident errors.
Firstly why relocate to the Mill? A Castle FORTRESS is called a Fortress for a reason. If the Baron had locked the front door after his escape, Helsing would not have gotten in to slay his mother. He could have holed up there safely during the day, and even Helsing wouldn't have been able to get in. The aristocracy have major wealth, that is why us Vampyre Masters choose them as our disciples, so they can live in their castles away from prying eyes, and also hire armies of mercenaries to stop lone hunters from sneaking in and staking us.
Secondly, whilst I appreciate the Baron's taste in Romanian women, you never make a set of Brides without finding out their attributes. A peasant and a school teacher when turned, are going to become a Vampyre Peasant and a Vampyre School Teacher. My own coterie of Brides come from the military, Police and security forces. Women in these fields can still be beautiful, and on the first night of their Undead existence they would still know how to use a gun/sword/knife/martial arts, not stand in the doorway with fangs bared stupidly while a Hunter went around kicking the Master's proverbial rear end.
Crossbows existed back then. The Baron should have bought some, lots. A Hunter comes at you with a crucifix, you or your Brides that are snarling in doorways can fire the damned things and put an end to his righteous existence. Acid is good, so are throwing daggers, pitfalls work well. Having a pot of hot oil above your Castle gates works wonders, and grants the 'once bitten, twice shy' mentality for any Hunter.
If you bite a Hunter, either tie him down, chain him up in your dungeon until he turns. Just don't leave him there knowing he might have the occult knowledge to save himself.
Hunters make better martyrs, not disciples.
Lastly, don't tell your fledglings where your coffin resides! Have them sleep somewhere else for the first couple of years, in a nearby tomb or at the mill, while you reside in your impenetrable Castle Fortress. That way if a fledgling tells your unintended Head Bride where SHE sleeps in a bid to seduce her to our cult, and then passes that on to the Hunter when she has second thoughts, the silly little Vampyre Brides only have themselves to blame when the Hunter comes a'knocking.
The Baron deserved what he had happen to him. No loss there...let this movie be a lesson to all Vampyres who don't utilise their wealth or assets, and make fledglings without any forethought.