For me, a lot of it works: the cellar under the Caldwell mansion is a great place to stash coffins, as is the old playroom in the disused attic and the swamp drainage flumes. And then there's the great ambiance of the family graveyard on the estate and the old shack of the hoodoo conjure-woman Queen Zimba. Kay Caldwell (Louise Allbritton)-- all jet-black bangs and diaphanous gowns and a "morbid" (as we're told a bunch of times by different characters) obsession with the occult-- is some sort of character that you might find threatening the heroine in one of those pre-Anne Rice gothic romance potboilers. In general, I think the Southern setting works a helluva lot better in SON OF DRACULA than it does in THE MUMMY'S CURSE (1944).
This movie was Siodmak's first after signing a long-term contract with Universal in 1943 (within a year, he would direct Chaney in Technicolor in COBRA WOMAN) and just a few months prior to his exquisite work with cinematographer Woody Bredell on PHANTOM LADY. With this mind, I like to watch SON OF DRACULA with an eye to its film noir elements: as we learn in the jailhouse scene, Kay is the femme fatale who has been deceiving Alucard in order to gain immortality; she confesses that she really has loved Frank all along, despite her whirlwind romance with and wedding to Alucard. Frank, the typical masochist noir protagonist who is ruined by guilt, teetering on the edge of insanity, and in jail for murder, is love-sick and isn't turned off at all by this revelation. Kay convinces Frank to destroy Alucard so that they can be together forever. Frank does away with Alucard, but then double-crosses Kay and destroys her as well, but not before he lovingly slips a wedding ring on her finger. What a sap. It's not hard for me to imagine Louise Allbritton's Kay as Yvonne De Carlo, Robert Paige as Burt Lancaster, and Lon Chaney, Jr. as Dan Duryea in some alternate-universe version of Siodmak's CRISS CROSS, or as Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey, and Richard Rober in THE FILE ON THELMA JORDAN. SON OF DRACULA lacks the claustrophobic sexual tension and overdetermined Freudian mumbo-jumbo of Siodmak's later work, but I still think it's an interesting near-crossover of horror and noir sensibilities.
NEXT: "Behind the Frisco fog lurk treachery and death. See the exciting thrill of the underworld battling the CHINATOWN SQUAD on Shock over this channel. It's an action-filled feature film premiere that will keep you gripping your seat with excitement."