It just goes to show how detached I am from Universal's monster lineup when I had no idea until recently that this movie existed. Not only that, but this s THE sequel to 'Dracula', as it picks up where the original movie left off. Dracula has just been killed by Professor Von (not Van) Helsing (Edward Van Sloan), and he's arrested by to police officers and sent to Scotland Yard. There, he explains the situation to Sir Basil Humphry (Gilbert Emery).
Von Helsing fully confesses with the greatest of ease and simplicity that he killed Count Dracula, but he's also already been dead for 500 years. Things are passed off as mere folklore and tales at first, and it leads Von Helsing to stand alone on his case, enlisting the aid of one of his star students; a psychiatrist named Dr. Jeffery Garth (Otto Kruger). His case is that since Dracula has been dead for 500 years, what he did can't be considered murder, and he was also doing the town a favor by ridding it of the king of the bloodsuckers.
In an interesting take on vampirism, we are introduced to the film's namesake; the Countess Marya Zaleska (Gloria Holden). She remains alive, despite her father's demise, and she discovers that her thirst for blood doesn't wane, because apparently she wants it to. She tries to free herself from all of this vampire stuff several times, and in constantly failing, she turns to Dr. Garth for help, only to find that she has the desire to turn him over to the dark side of vampirism as well. Sooo, pretty basic stuff if you ask me, but I can't deny that it's interesting to see what may be a first attempt at giving a vampire that much of a human side. Sure, Dracula had a bit of a human side too, but he embraces his curse whereas Marya wants to be free from it.
All in all, I feel that the general metaphor here may be something along the lines of addiction. Marya wants out of that vampiric curse of hers in her own way, but she can't help but have those cravings. She lays the hypnotic eyes on at least a couple of people here, and we all know Dracula for that. But in this case, it almost looks like she's the one who's hypnotized by these humans. It's as though you see that inner struggle of needing something as opposed to just wanting something, and whether it be cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or drugs in general, we've all experienced that inner struggle - perhaps most of us have experienced it when trying to diet and/or lose weight.
It's a neat take on things, but I have to confess that all in all, I found the film rather boring altogether. There was a lot of talk, and you didn't get that underlying sense of dread you got from Dracula with Marya. With Dracula, you saw his victims as a sort of fly in a spider's web. Here, it's like the spider wants to capture her victim, but sit down and have a nice chat over tea before moving in for the kill. Even when it comes to any kills, it's all pretty well offscreen, and theres just no sense of fear to anything at all. But then there's the comedic aspect. I can certainly give it credit for a few funny moments of dialogue, but it's not quite enough to pull me in. For me, the only reason to watch this is to see what happened next as a sort of epilogue - not so much to be quite as fully entertained as you were with 'Dracula'.