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Somewhere in Louisiana, circa 1940's: The Caldwell's are holding a reception
in honour of their guest from abroad, Count Alucard (Lon Chaney jr), a man
whose acquaintance Kay Caldwell (Louise Allbritton) made in Budapest. The guest
of honour though fails to arrive (or does he), instead, Kay's father, the
Colonel (George Irving) is found dead in his room, with 2 bitemarks on his
throat - of course he was bitten to death by Dracula, but only the audience
knows that, the Count himself makes his presence not known until shortly after
Everybody believes that the Colonel died from a heart failure,
only local doctor Brewster (Frank Craven) thinks there's something more
sinister behind it, & thus calls his colleague from Hungary, professor
Laszlo (J.Edward Bromberg), who promptly suggests vampires & links
Caldwell's death to the arrival of Alucard, whose name, as you might have
guessed, is Dracula spelled backwards.
In the meantime, Alucard spends more
& more time with Kay, much to the dismay of her fiancé Frank (Robert
Paige), & soon, they even get married & denie everyone, including
Frank, Doc Brewster & Kay's own sister Claire (Evelyn Ankers), access to
... a fact that Frank won't accept & he soon shows up
again at their mansion & theartens Alucard with a gun - but accidently
shoots Kay instead & can only escape an infuriated Alucard when he, in
flight, stumbles over a graveyard full of crucifixes.
When Frank tells the
whole story to Brewster though, the doctor decides to verify the story on his
own, but when he shows up at Kay's & Alucard's mansion, he finds her very
much alive (of course she's vampirized by now, though).
Ignorant to that
fact though, Frank gives himself up to the police for murdering her, & when
the next day the sheriff (Pat Moriarity) takes Frank & Brewster to Kay's
mansion, they indeed find her not alive but her lifeless body in a nearby
crypt, thus Frank is arrested.
In the meantime though, professor Laszlo has
arrived at Brewster's place, & the 2 and the sheriff try to figure out the
whole story ... too late though, as Kay the vampire has already arrived in
Frank's prison cell, & confesses his undieing love to him, telling him that
she only used Alucard/Dracula to attain immortality & now that this is
accomplished she needs Frank to get rid of the vampire - & as a reward,
Kay will make him her new vampire consort. & with her supernatural powers
(as a vampire she can turn into a bat or mist) it's an easy thing for her to
break him free.
Once out of prison, Frank wastes no time, goes to Dracula's
coffin & burns it - since a vampire has to sleep in his native soil during
daylight hours, burning his coffin (laid out in Hungarian soil) is a death
sentence for him, & when Dracula does come back to his coffin, he is indeed
killed by the first rays of the sun before he can have his revenge on Frank.
Frank arrives at Kay's place, with the sheriff, Brewster & Laszlo in hot
pursuit, but when they finally manage to catch up with him, he has already set
her coffin on fire, too.
On a pure technical level, this film does
work quite well, with atmospheric camerawork that makes good use of the typical
swamp-studio-sets you would expect from a movie set in Louisiana. However, the
story is just a tad too stupid to convince, with many of its plottwists being
just plain silly (after all, it's about a woman using Dracula to attain
immortality) & little to no effort is made to make them believable at all.
That Lon Chaney jr is cast against type here gives a rather weak
performance doesn't help either.
By the way, this movie has nothing to do
with Universal's other Dracula movies (that can be seen as
a loosely linked series), & there's no Son of Dracula around, Chaney
plays just plain old Dracula.