Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Dracula’s Daughter – review

Authors: Gary D. Rhodes, Tom Weaver & Michael Lee

First published: 2017

The blurb: Cross and wooden stake in hand, Dr. Gary D. Rhodes re-enters the sepulcher of supernatural cinema, casting his lantern's light on Universal’s 1936 classic Dracula’s Daughter. With fellow tomb raiders Tom Weaver and Michael Lee, he discovers long-forgotten lore, presented herein with the film’s original shooting script, pressbook and a large array of other freshly exhumed extras.

The review: If I am honest one primary reason for ordering this volume (beyond it being a book dedicated to Dracula’s Daughter) was the fact that it was co-written by Gary D. Rhodes whose monograph Tod Browning’s Dracula was such a joy of a volume. Perhaps it is for that reason that I found this volume disappointing.

Firstly, it is coffee table size – I got the paperback version which does not suit this size – and this makes it awkward to carry to read whilst travelling (ok not everyone does that, but I do). However, it is in the content that I was dissatisfied. It opens with Rhodes’ exploration of the film, its genesis and filming. This is excellent, as one would expect, but rather short. Perhaps there just isn’t the story to tell compared to Dracula and, of course, much of the background would have been the same or similar to the earlier monograph. This was the best part of the book for me.

Next we get Tom Weaver’s fun facts. The detail here is good but having bought the book as a scholarly reference work I felt a tad disconcerted by the frivolous style. It was more pulp magazine than anything else. Michael’s Lee study of the music in the film was interesting, but the detail was a little too much this time – but perfect for the student of soundtracks in general I suspect.

The vast bulk of the book is made up of a facsimile of the shooting script. The coffee table size comes into its own here as it is a difficult read due to reproduction from microfiche and smaller would have been awful. That said it was still an unpleasant read – a retyped inclusion would have served better than this (or both facsimile and retype). The appendices are a mixed bag of treatments, draft excerpts, a pointless script for a 50s horror host presenting the film on TV and, most interestingly, DeWitt Bodeen’s treatment from 1953 for a Universal production of Carmilla, which was never filmed of course.

Not what I was hoping for, this still has much to say for itself but the main change I’d make would be to type up the shooting script. 6.5 out of 10.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK

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