The Film (4/5)
I have been saving Daughter of Dracula to watch until the weekend. It might have been the best bad decision I have made recently, because by the end of the week I was completely and utterly delirious with exhaustion. This may or may not be the best condition to watch a Jess Franco film where he decides narrative should take a backseat to atmosphere and dreamlike ambiance. Daughter of Dracula is one of Franco's early 1970's films right around that golden period where he is beginning to eschew narrative construct in order to create a perfect storm of ambiance and image.
Daughter of Dracula stars Britt Nichols as Luisa Karlstein(a variation on Karnstein from Carmilla). She arrives back home at Castle Karlstein just as a series of murders is starting up in the village near the castle, and as her mother the Baroness Karlstein is dying. She has come to the castle to claim it as her inheritance, and during a secret meeting with her dying Mother she is given a key to a room in a tower that contains a long buried family secret. As it turns out this key is to the family tomb, and contains their descendent Count Dracula (Howard Vernon). Luisa cannot resist the Count and is soon a vampire herself. She also, finds herself being obsessed over by her cousin Karine (Anne Liebert). Of course, the murders are being investigated by a few villagers (one of whom played by the always sleazy Franco), and they are determined to get to the bottom of them no matter what.
Daughter of Dracula is not a film I would recommend someone come into Franco with, but for a disciple of the director it is an absolute goldmine of sleazy, dreamlike bliss. The film has some cool horror moments more due to its creepy location and some of the dark ambiance of the tomb setting then anything else, but overall the film is more concerned with creating bizarre atmospherics and lesbian sex than creating anything akin to real horror. But with Franco that is sort of to be expected.
Franco was never a director that was fully engaged with genre filmmaking. He made a few films early in his career like the Diabolical Dr. Z and the Awful Dr. Orloff that showed him fully engaged in genre work, but as years past and he found his niche he seemed to be less concerned with formal structure, and more about pushing the limits of what he personally could do with cinema as a form. He would occasionally do a straight horror like the 1980's slasher riff Bloody Moon, or the Cannibal film Devil Hunter and while both films could be considered entertaining (and yes, I like Devil Hunter). They do lack the spark that marks the best of Franco, which could very easily be found in Daughter of Dracula.
Redemption through their association with Kino Lorber presents Daughter of Dracula in an excellent 1080p 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. Redemption with their transfers typically take a less is more approach to their transfers offering a bit of color correction, but overall leave the films looking more or less untouched, and honestly, that is fine by me. The film has solid color reproduction, decent detail, and deep blacks. There is damage from the source material present throughout, but never a distraction.
The audio is presented with a LPCM mono track in French. The track is quite solid for the most part, dialogue is strong and the typical jazzy score comes through nicely. I did detect what sounded like some hissing on some parts of the track, but overall it sounded decent for the most part.
We get a highly informative (is there any other kind?)commentary by Tim Lucas, alternate footage without explicit content, and a theatrical trailer.
Daughter of Dracula is another excellent sapphic vampire entry in the filmography of Jess Franco. The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite decent, and has a fitting slate of extras. RECOMMENDED.