BLOOD OF DRACULA ( 1957 ) ~ She Blinded ME with Science

 

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( VII )

“I can release a destructive power in a human being that would make the split atom seem like a blessing.” 

If a male scientist had said that, folks would say: “He’s mad. He’s a genius. Give him some more funding!!” But let a woman say it and folks are like: “Whats her problem? Why isn’t she married yet?” Blaaargh! In fact just saying the word “Scientist” connotes Male. Sexism
( or perhaps my OWN biases ), rears its ugly head where Science is concerned in
Herbert L. Strocks 1957-classic ( ??! ) BLOOD OF DRACULA not to be confused with 1970’sTASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULATaste The Blood of Draculawith Christopher Lee. This is the film Ill explore in my contribution to the MOVIE SCIENTIST BLOGATHON: The Good ♦The Mad ♦ The Lonely hosted by Christina Wehner and Silver Screenings.

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( MOVIE SCIENTIST BLOGATHON )

I jumped at this idea and my choice came down to two films I enjoy a lot. Though Karloff was lonely and   poignant inThe Devil Commands
( practically bullied by occultist Anne RevereI wanted to have fun with one of my favorite favorite fifties schlocky movies: “Blood of Dracula.” Our Science teacher crosses all boundaries of science and ethics when she chooses one of her unstable students to experiment her theories of harnessing destructive powers so we have no need Atom and Nuclear bombs. Who needs the expense of manufacturing these things. Have a baby. As a Scientist she is just as bananas as her male counterpart, and that sort of makes for a level playing field. Its good to know gender knows no bounds where crazy is concerned.

Oh, like these guys never made a mistake. You know youd give them a pass. Our 

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( METROPOLIS ) BLOOD OF DRACULA ( YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN ) BLOOD OF DRACULA ( NUTTY PROFESSOR ) BLOOD OF DRACULA ( DR. X )

scientist ~ Miss Branding is played by Louise Lewis with calm even-temperedness and no female highsterics. Miss Branding goes in with the cold scientific logic of not giving a crap what happens to the guinea pig in collecting her data. BBLOOD OF DRACULA ( FRANKENSTEIN )ut before I get into her, Id better start with her guinea pig…I mean student. Sit back and relax on this Winters day and Ill tell you the spoilers of all the twists and turns of “Blood of Dracula.” Why dont I start you off with the trailer where you can whet or lose your appetite:

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( PROMO - STALKS )BLOOD OF DRACULA ( PROMO - BLOOD FREEZING )BLOOD OF DRACULA ( PROMO - NIGHTMARES )
The film uses day-for-night       It’s summer time. The girls     Uhmmm, well THIS would
shots. You can see death         just wear a light sweater.       be very very true.
coming a block away if even
the teenagers don’t.

* * * * *

 WHAT HAPPENS TO A DREAM DEFERRED…

The opening theme music of this great classic portends good important things to come. It’s a nice complex composition. The movie s(t)inks like a boulder though. But what can I say …I love it.

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( DRIVING-I ) BLOOD OF DRACULA ( DRIVING-II ) BLOOD OF DRACULA ( DRIVING-VI )

It’s a rain-soaked night and a man and his ( 2nd ) wife drive his quick-tempered daughter, 28-year old teenager Nancy, ( Sandra Harrison ) to the Sherwood School For Girls. Backseat driver Nancy reaches over his shoulder, grabs the wheel and tries to steer the car off the road. Her Dad hauls off and smacks her right in the chops. Her step-mom says to Nancys father:

“Give her another one!”

Whoa! Here’s a gal who won’t spare the rod to spoil the brat. ( #STEPMOTHERS!

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( DRIVING-VI )  BLOOD OF DRACULA ( DRIVING-IV )

STEP-MOM:   “You could have killed us all!”
       NANCY:   “That’s what I tried to do.”

YIKES! 

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( DRIVING-VII )Then all three of them have a cigarette. A dysfunctional family that puffs together, needs therapy with Dr. Phil together. Director Strock gets artistically auteurish with his UN-Dutch Angle-underneath-the-steering-wheel-shot looking up at Dad. Actually the shot disturbed me ‘cuz I wanted to know what I was doing down there on the floorboard looking up at him. Dad’s a widower going for his 2nd chance at love with a “B” girl with fake pearls, mink coat and a mere six weeks after Nancy’s mother’s death. Actually, don’t quote me on the mink part; I’m not sure what kind of animal had that fur first. It takes a good low budget “B” movies to get down to brass tacks. None of this: you’re grounded, go to your room” malarkey. A smack in the kisser and then light up a cigarette. Forget Leave It to Beaver. Keepin’ it real, 1950’s-style. The honeymooning couple leave Nancy at the boarding school with her blessings:

Don’t give me that blushing bride routine. You put a ring
through Dad’s nose.”

As her parents say their goodbyes ( and not a minute too soon ) theres this exchange:

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( II - A )

SCHOOLMISTRESS to PARENTS: “You’re driving all the
way home tonight?”

NANCY: “They’ll probably stop at a motel.”

D0h!!

Geez…wash that kids mouth out with another cigarette. You’ve got to admit, it’s pretty frank conversation for 1957.

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( VIII )Nancy is taken to her dorm room by Miss Thorndyke, the school’s kindly headmistress. Nancy also has a serious set of matching luggage to boot that would make Bob Barker proud. Four sorority sisters bust into Nancy’s room, led by Myra…teachers pet and chief sorority sister and pony tail. They rough house Nancy a little. She’s okay with them taking her cigarettes and rifling through her underwear. Even eating her chocolates is not that big a deal. But when one of them touches her 8 x 10 glossy of her boyfriend Glenn, you guessed it…hair-pulling ensues.

* * * * *

MISS BRANDING BUILDS HER DREAM GIRL

BLOOD OF DRACULA - ( I )

But enough of this silly over-aged teenage girl drama. Lets look at The Big Picture. This movie ( and blogathon ) is about Science; theres a lot of discrimination towards Women’s contribution to science in most sci-fi movies. In much of these movies from the 50s, women’s contributions seem to be looking good in a tight sweater, no white lab coat, making coffee and not moving the story forward much, except to be rescued. NOT that theres anything wrong with that. Well…we certainly can’t accuse Louise Lewis of that. Lewis plays Miss Branding, Science Rebel. Why, next to Madame Curie, Miss Branding is, well…Miss Branding. Branding is not chasing spiders, minotaurs, ants, tarantulas, octopi, robot monsters, radioactive crawling eyes, Rodans or other beasts from twenty thousand fathoms deep or twenty millions miles from earth. I think the professor makes her case quite succinctly:

We live in a world ruled by men for men. They won’t even consider my thesis. They mock me…my work. But they’re convinced that they’re on the right track…they search for power in the wrong place.”

She talks of the effects atomic war will bring if science continues the way men have been running things:

Monsters. Grotesque mis-shapen frightening fiends. Isotopes and fall-out in our lungs and our glands. Distorting natural shape and proportion. No one can calculate the hazards of radiation. Wreckless fools; they search in the wrong place.”

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( II )BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XXIII )I’ve never heard
a  female movie
scientist talk like
that … not even Greer Garson as
Madame Curie.
Miss Branding has an apt disci-ple uhmm… pupil in our prissy Little Miss Sorority Queen. She’s a future scientist, with a ponytail. Miss Bran- ding trolls her students for a human guinea pig to help prove her cockamamie theories. She’s looking for: …a disturbed girl, perhaps, but with a will of her own.” BLOOD OF DRACULA ( IX )And disappointingly Miss Ponytail will NOT do, even though she has an abiding over-achiever interest in all things Science. And just how is Miss Branding going to lure rope scare up a volunteer for her science-y experiments? She has to pick her out of a crowd full of girls in her chemistry class. Notice…it’s not a Home Ec class. I think it’s interesting that the movie shows, when no boys are around, girls can learn  anything
( chemistry, calculus, etc. ). 

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XII ) BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XI )
One of these girls will not make it to the end of the movie

 

Miss Branding picks Nancy for a chemistry experiment that purposely goes awry and she is burned by one of the girls. Do I have to tell you what happens? That’s right…more hair-pulling ensues. Nancy lashes out and makes with the beat-down. 

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XV )

You needn’t be ashamed of that impulse. For some people, special people, no injury gets better until the score has been evened…You remember the bible? An eye for an eye?”

Nancys father paid tuition for this?

Professor Branding blurs and basically obliterates all kinds of lines of the teacher/student relationship. But if Miss Branding’s going to mix eye for an eye theology into her Science Lesson Plan, then academia goes down the tubes.

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( IV )  BLOOD OF DRACULA ( III )

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( MYRNA LOY in THIRTEEN WOMEN )

URSULA GEORGI

Can anything good come of an amulet? Miss Branding hypnotizes Nancy with a Carpathian amulet, thus setting Nancy’s transformation in motion. Nancys about to do some very bad things to some snooty sorority sisters. Shades of THIRTEEN WOMEN?  And taking a drag off her cigarette afterwards will not help.

Our first victim is sent downstairs to pick up some supplies. She hears a noise. She doesn’t pay attention to the ominous music signifying theres a monster in the midst. Shes attacked by some…Monster in the Midst.

The police are baffled but they don’t realize that they’ve already figured out the culprit of the crime. You see, one of the lieutenants has laid out the entire movie plot for his boss 

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XIII )  BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XIV )

and those kids in the audience who drove to the drive-in in the middle of the movie. “…a Dracula, says the young cute detective, as any hope of him collecting a pension disappears. But face it, these cops couldn’t find the ties around their necks.

 BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XIII-A ) BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XIV )

The dead sorority sister is forgotten after two weeks b’cuz high school hijinks must go on, right? Another sorority sister is attacked by the fiend Miss Branding unleashes in Nancy. We actually see her transformation this time. It’s horrifying ( and horrible ). She looks like Eddie Munster’s sister ( with a scarf. ) It’s not a good look, especially in broad day-for-night light. Nancy’s questioned by the cops. This crack team of detectives has her strapped to a lie detector. One good cough would have loosened those flimsy straps.

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( I ) BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XX )

While she’s being given the third degree, schoolteacher/scientist/monster-maker Miss Branding standsBLOOD OF DRACULA ( V ) right outside the door fondling her Carpathian amulet and sending telepathic messages to our young(ish) Nancy. Dang that thing is big and doesn’t go with ANY of Miss Branding’s outfits. She looks like Flavor Flav with that medallion dangling ’round her neck. Maybe its because I don’t know science, but I fail to see the science in Miss Brandings actions. Is she taking notes? Does she have a petri dish? Is unleashing Mans destructive power in a “teen-aged girl really the way to go to stop wars? I have questions, and so do the police. Trying to get to the bottom of things, the cops first question to Nancy:

           POLICE:   How old are you, Nancy?”
            NANCY:   Eighteen.”
CINEMAVEN:    Book ’em, Dano!!”

I would have read her her Miranda rights, and slapped her butt in jail right then and there for THAT lie. But the cops swallow that and the rest of her malarkey testimony and release her to Miss Branding. I think we know by now that Science was jilted at the altar. She does what any good, mad scientist does…she loses sight of what her experiments’ objectives are, and dives head first into power-tripping for power’s sake. Or maybe this is just cool calm collected scientific logic. Here, you be the judge:

NANCY: You’ve got to help me. You’ve got to tell me Miss Branding, who am I? What am I doing? I’m living a nightmare. A horrible urge comes over me. I feel a strength that’s almost frightening. It takes possession of me. I must do something awful but when I try to remember, all I can see isyou!  I’ve got to know Miss Branding.”

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XVI )

MISS BRANDING: “…And when you know the whole truth, when you realize the part that you’ve played in saving mankind from its own destruction, you’ll be proud.”

NANCY:  “But in the meantime what do I do? What you make me do, I feel it’s wrong.”

MISS BRANDING: “Wrong. Who’s the judge of that?”

 

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XVI-A )  BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XXI )

Nancy’s boyfriend Glenn comes to visit. He’s borrowed his dad’s car, cut two classes and made the three-hundred mile drive in less than six hours. ( Would your man travel like that for YOU? ) There’s been two murders on the grounds, he’s desperate to talk to her and when he gets her in the car he tries to jump her bones and get to second base. When she and Glenn kiss she feels that ol’ monster feeling coming on and she runs away from him into Miss Branding’s lab. Again she asks her monster mentor for help:

 NANCY:   “You’ve got to set me free.”

MISS BRANDING:  “Free to do what?”

NANCY:   “Free to be myself. I just left Glenn, my boyfriend. You tried to stop him from seeing me.”

MISS BRANDING:  I didn’t think that was important.

Uh – oh.

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XIV )  BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XIX )

Does the pursuit of science mean that scientists ( male or female ) can betray the public’s trust? She misuses her position. Poor Nancy tries to strike a blow for her own independence. I feel sorry for her. She wasn’t really a bad egg. She just smoked and sassed her parents back; but she was a girl who was grieving for her mother and her anger and grief was turned against her. 

BLOOD OF DRACULA ( XVII )

Its pretty obvious Miss Branding never watched classic movies, or at the very least read this blogathon where she could have followed the model of some good scientists, which you can read by clicking this banner. BLOOD OF DRACULA ( MOVIE SCIENTIST BLOGATHON ) IShe stayed cooped up in her lab working on her experiments. There might’ve been a reason her theories were mocked. If she had looked at a movie, she’d have seen what happens to Scientists when their experiments turn against them and wise-acres like me lovingly mock their mis-guided efforts. I don’t know if you can upload this: ( http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x17y0ic_blood-of-dracula-1957_shortfilms  ) but I highly recommend this film and strongly recommend you click the banner to read the cautionary tales of movie scientists, good, mad or lonely. If you don’t, you know what’ll happen. 

   Thats right…hair-pulling will ensue.

Thanks again to Christina Wehner…and Ruth of Silver Screenings, for hosting this event.

[   H O M E   ]

______________________________________________________________________________

 

12 thoughts on “BLOOD OF DRACULA ( 1957 ) ~ She Blinded ME with Science

  1. You had me laughing so hard that my stomach is sore. I think this is my favourite post on your website.

    I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!! It sounds like a real gem – the premise, the frank dialogue, the screams (judging by the trailer). That Miss Branding is a supervillain!

    Thanks so much for joining the Movie Scientist party, and for bringing Miss Branding with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Ruth, I am so happy that my review made you laugh. I hope others get the joke as well. I love old movies. “A” pictures… “B” pictures… and what’s known as “Schlock” pictures. But for me…Schlock is not a put down. I love these low-budgeted, poor acting, day-for-night shot films. Boys and men ALWAYS get to have all the fun and I’m glad “Blood of Dracula” shows the distaff side of things; girls and women can be just as crackpot as the boys. Thanx for including me. ( Now do you see how “mad” Miss Branding is? )

      Like

  2. Obviously, I have been let down mightily by my local TV stations who never bothered to enlighten me about the problems of being a female scientist in the 1950s by showing me “Blood of Dracula”. The teenage urge to rebel, long suppressed, is longing for expression.

    Theresa, I was not expecting this with my morning coffee which has been shaken out of my cup from laughing. You’re a little bit “mad” yourself, I see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Quite mad Paddy, if I were to tell the truth about myself. I hide behind my love of classic films. And as Norman Bates said…”we all go a little bit mad, sometimes.” 🙂

      Thanx a lot for reading, laughing and commenting. I can’t think of a better compliment than that! This is a great movie and you should get thee to a DVD or whatever, right away for this and others in the Schlock Films Hall of Fame. They’re so much fun. Thanks again.

      Like

  3. It took me forever to read your post, because I kept stopping to read it aloud over breakfast! Thanks so much for this fabulous entry! Clearly, the male mad scientists have nothing on the women!

    I am inspired, though! If Nancy can pass as eighteen, then surely I could shave ten years off my age – all I need is a little courage…or a Miss Branding with an amulet. I’ve been missing out!

    Like

    • I’m glad laughter kept you from finishing my piece in one fell swoop. ( Whew! Love to leave ’em laughing! ) If more women were allowed to explore science, I think the world would be a better place.) Christina…get thee to an amulet…STAT!! Thanks again for reading, commenting and allowing my freak flag to fly.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Movie Scientist Blogathon Day 2 Recap – The Mad | Christina Wehner

  5. Ah…that was rich. I don’t have anything real original to add because like the other commenters I just laughed a ton and had the best time reading about Blood of Dracula, one of those movies that has somehow never crossed my path. In addition to being hilarious, it was great to read about a female Mad—I had been thinking while writing my Invisible Man entry about how the boys got to have all the fun, but Miss Branding evens the score a little for sure. She has…issues. Do they give us any idea how she got so messed up, or do they take the characteristic schlock devil-may-care attitude: Who needs motivation or character development?

    Anyway, thanks so much for this—it’s a wonderful piece.

    Like

    • Hey Lesley…I’m glad my post left you laughing. But it’s funny, when I watch the movie I’m in there…taking it all in. Boys get to have a lot of fun, but I’ve stretched to find her and to find my lady Pirate ( “Anne of the Indies.” )

      Miss Branding’s issues??? Probably that she wasn’t married. ( I think it was one of the laws in the Constitution that a woman must marry. ) Thanks for your comments.

      Like

  6. Pingback: THE SCI-FI BLOGATHON: “TARANTULA”, “BLACK SCORPION” & “THE GIANT CLAW” | CineMaven's ESSAYS from the COUCH

Please leave a comment ( No Anonymous Replies Accepted )

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s