I'm going to admit, I was peeved when I quickly realised that the titular brides were not really the brides of Dracula. Or really anyone's bride. Though there is a bride.
Directed by the ever trustworthy Terence Fisher, I gave it a go.
It made me sad. At first. Fisher capably captures the action on screen but something was missing.
Then Peter Cushing swooped in, his hair swishing from left to right, he energetically swots a falling candlestick out the way as he leaps over a table, earnestly chasing the truly devilish Baron Meinster.
Who I note: is not Dracula.
But Peter Cushing made it okay again. As he always does.
These two things are important. One: Peter Cushing saves this film. As he saves most terrible films. Two: Baron Meinster is not Dracula.
Props to David Peel, he was creepy as fuck as the aforementioned Baron. And those contact lenses he had to wear? Looked painful as hell as well as scary as hell. The painful lenses probably helped contribute to him retiring from acting after this film, escaping this hell for the fresh hell of careers in property and antiques. But at least they got the shot. (It could have been this film. Could have been the Hands of Orlac. Who knows what pushes a man over the edge.)
Yvonne Monlaur has a nice turn here (I guess) as the dimwitted student teacher Marianne, fully in love with the Count, even after basically witnessing him murder his own mother, until the very end.
The titular Brides are really just two random girls the Count gives eternal life to. They don't have much to do, and surprisingly, there is a lack of cleavage here, something that would be later heavily remedied in Twins of Evil and many other Hammer outings. That said they get one nice scene towards the end before being relegated to fearful monsters of the undead cowering in the corner as Cushing continues his general badassery.
This is probably a better Dracula film than the 1958 outing starring Cushing and Lee, (mostly due to pacing) even though it definitely suffers from a lack of Lee as Dracula. That said Peel does his best with the material and pulls out a sexually charged monster that is deserving of taking its place amongst the monster movie pantheon. Cushing is delightful as ever, always at his best in the more energetic roles.
The definitive Van Helsing, we salute you.