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The Brides of Dracula are characters in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula. They are three seductive female vampire "sisters" who reside with Count Dracula in his castle in Transylvania, where they entrance male humans with their beauty and charm, and then proceed to feed upon them. Dracula provides them with victims to devour, mainly infants and children.
Like Dracula, they are the living dead, repulsed by religious objects. In chapter three of the novel, two are described as dark-haired and the other as blonde-haired.
In the novel the three vampire women are not individually named. Collectively, they are known as the "sisters", and are at one point described as the "weird sisters".
One of the three may have been identified in the short story Dracula's Guest as the vampire named Countess Dolengen of Gratz. Since Jonathan Harker is suggested to be the protagonist of the story he encounters her at her tomb in Munich which Dracula protects him from; saving his life from the vampire as well as, in the form of a great wolf, keeping him warm from the cold and yelping for nearby soldiers to come to their location. In the Dracula novel Harker writes about one of the female vampires in the moment he is with them stating, "I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where."  Although the three vampire women in Dracula are popularly referred to as the "Brides of Dracula", they are never referred to as such in the novel, instead referred to as the 'sisters'; whether they are married to Dracula or not is never mentioned, nor are they described as having any other relation to him. Though it is mentioned by the sisters that Dracula does not love, nor has he ever loved them, the count himself claims he too can love and asked them if they remember his love from the past The two dark-haired women, however, are described by Jonathan Harker to have "high aquiline noses, like the Count's".
It has been suggested from this that it may have been Stoker's intent that these two are Dracula's daughters, extending the sexuality metaphor of vampirism to incest. Even though it is never specified/made clear, it is possible that the term "sister" wasn't meant in the literal sense and is, instead, more comparable to the relationship of the women and not as they are to Dracula. As they are also depicted in the novel calling Mina Harker their sister after she was forced to drink the blood of Dracula and being afflicted with signs of vampirism herself. Mina and Lucy also call each other sisters in the novel despite not having any blood relation. Despite their words, the sisters have oddly never been recorded by the protagonists of the novel to have followed Dracula's orders without question. Dracula is angry at them for disobeying his commands by trying to feed on Jonathan, but he does show that he cares somewhat for them by offering them something to eat in the form of the contents of the "wiggling bag", and honors his promise to give them Harker when he leaves, though it is not revealed why he leaves them behind in Transylvania rather than taking them to London with him.
As vampires, the sisters are powerful in their own right; their beauty and playful charm belie lethal, predatory interiors. Their beauty and flirtatious manner appears to be their greatest power when it comes to bewitching their victims into a trance-like state. Harker and Van Helsing are both attracted to, and yet repulsed by them. They can seemingly appear out of nowhere and are inhumanly strong as shown when they kill Van Helsing's horses and are seen flying in the air with their dresses trailing behind them. They apparently do not live in fear of Dracula, as they disobey his orders not to feed on Harker before the house transaction is finished. The blond vampire can be seen defying him when she demands to feed upon Harker and they openly tease Dracula that he "never loves". One of the brunette vampires encourages the blond to feed on Harker first, saying ‘Go on! You are first, and we shall follow. Yours is the right to begin.’ depicting her to have some sort of status over the others. This may suggest that she could be his wife or consort; aiding this theory is the fact that when Harker comes across their sleeping quarters, he finds her tomb to be more opulent, as if meant for a loved one. As such there's a possibility that the blonde is the mother of the two dark-haired females, if they are indeed his daughters, but this is speculation. However, considering how easily Dracula was able to knock away the bride that almost fed on Harker, it is likely that Dracula is stronger than them and could dispatch of them if he wished which may be why the brides never attempted to try and directly challenge him. There is also some speculation that, despite their demeanor towards him, they may retain some love for him since they've never tried to leave the castle. The fact that Dracula promises them Harker when he leaves and gives them the "wiggling bag" leads some credence that Dracula likewise still cares for them.
The brides serve as foreshadowing for the threat of Vampirism in the story which, as seen with Lucy Westerna later on, includes his power of corruption over his victims once he has drained their blood and made them into vampires. It's fairly likely that the three women were previous victims of his, and are examples of his desire to make more Vampires like himself.
Sometime near the beginning of the novel, after Jonathan Harker arrives in Dracula's castle, he warns Harker that if he leaves his room to never sleep in any room in the castle other than his own bedroom, but does not tell him why, clearly aware that the sisters will kill him. Late one night Jonathan explores the castle and ventures to see which rooms are open to him. He finds many of the doors in the castle are locked but one room in particular he forced open, noticing that the door wasn't locked but the hinges were fallen. He enters into the furthest right wing of the castle with views from the windows overlooking the countryside and rooms with comfortable furniture. He sits at a table writing in his journal and as he felt sleepy, he remembered Dracula's warning but felt satisfied disobeying it and lays in a great couch in the corner of the room. As he believes he is sleeping he sees three females standing in the moonlight which was shining throughout the room but not casting any shadows upon the floor. More than delighted that fresh prey has entered their domain, they proceed to seduce him. Harker feels a burning desire for their lips to kiss his. As one of them begins to kiss his neck, he feels her sharp teeth barely scrape against his flesh. At that precise moment Dracula is seen grabbing her neck and hurling her away from him. Driving them back and chastising them for trying to feed on Harker when he wasn't done with him, he promises to give Harker to them after his business deal is concluded and gives them a "wiggling bag" (highly presumed by Harker to be a human child) to appease them. Harker soon fears for his life after this encounter, at one point thinking he sees them dancing in the sky outside his bedroom when he nearly nods off, which strengthens his resolve to escape. Dracula makes good on his word and leaves Harker to the sisters when he heads for England. Though Harker manages to escape the castle shortly after, he is badly traumatized by the encounter and is diagnosed with brain fever. Though they lose their victim, the brides continue to haunt the castle and terrorize the nearby village.
The sisters are seen again near the end of the novel as the protagonists pursue Count Dracula to Transylvania. The sisters suddenly appear at a camp consisting of Van Helsing and Mina Harker. Sensing that Mina is cursed with vampirism, they beckon her to join them, referring to her as their "sister" and promising not to harm her. However, Van Helsing had previously crushed a Sacred wafer and scattered it in a circle around the campsite. Due to this protective barrier both Mina and the sisters are unable to cross its border. Although the Vampires kept away from the camp they remained in the darkness until sunrise to which they fled back to the castle. At the coming of daylight, Van Helsing finds that their horses are dead (He speculates that they had died of fright in the sisters supernatural presence. Though some adaptations likewise has the sisters kill the horses directly either to slow down Helsing or simply feed before they flee back to the castle). After Van Helsing binds Mina in another ring of sacramental bread, he subsequently goes to Dracula's castle alone to destroy the vampires and sterilize Dracula's tomb, keeping him from ever being able to enter it again. After locating the vampires' graves, he finds them asleep 'open eyed'. He attempts to kill the first but almost fails as his eyes befall her beauty. Caught in an enchantment, he becomes entranced and lost in a state of uncertainty. Becoming overwhelmed with emotions, he feels compelled to protect her instead and even contemplates love for her. He suddenly hears a 'Soul Wail' from Mina which breaks the enchantment allowing him to finish his work. First using a blacksmith hammer, he strikes a stake into her then proceeds to operate on her, detaching the head from the body then filling the mouth with garlic. He repeats this process with the other two as well taking him an entire day to complete. Dracula's reaction to their deaths is not known.
Commonly all three brides appear in film adaptations of the novel, though some film adaptations depict them as a blonde, a brunette and a redhead. They are typically depicted as enchantingly beautiful young women, coquettish and seductive in manner, often appearing like succubi in the night, dressed in flowing silk nightgowns, are barefoot, and behaving in a wild and sexually aggressive manner.
In Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula, the brides were played by Monica Bellucci, Michaela Bercu and Florina Kendrick. Bellucci, Bercu and Kendrick's dialogue was entirely in Romanian, and Kendrick reportedly helped her co-stars to speak her native tongue correctly. In this adaptation the vampire portrayed by Kendrick is clearly modelled on Medusa the Gorgon, and has living snakes coiled through her hair; another appears to be based upon an Arabian princess due to her attire. It is the brunette vampire (portrayed by Kendrick) that is the leader, rather than the blonde (portrayed by Bercu).
The three brides are present but silent in the 1973 television adaptation Bram Stoker's Dracula (starring Jack Palance).
Although missing from the silent film Nosferatu, the Brides made silent appearances in the 1931 film Dracula and the Spanish language version of Drácula. (The latter film, shot simultaneously on the same sets at night with a separate cast and crew, depicts the brides as more obviously sexual than in the more chaste English-language version.)
They had lines in the 1977 BBC production entitled Count Dracula.
In Dracula: Dead and Loving It only two of the Brides appear, however they are depicted as heavily sexualized when they first arrive in the room where Renfield is staying as they attempt to seduce him. Dracula saves him from the Brides, sending them away, before convincing the simple minded Rendfield he had simply had a strange dream. The Brides are neither named nor have any spoken dialogue in this film.
NBC are developing a TV series of the Brides of Dracula characters titled "Brides" with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa writing, and executive producing with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. The series described as a sexy reimagining of Dracula as a family drama with a trio of strong, diverse female leads, a show about empowered women and the things they do to maintain wealth, prestige, legacy — and their non-traditional family.
Characters based on the Original Brides
- Some films inspired by the novel show fewer than three, such as the 1995 spoof Dracula: Dead and Loving It, in which two appear, and Dracula (1958) and Drakula İstanbul'da, where a single bride appears.
- While the Brides usually remain nameless, they are called Verona, Aleera, and Marishka in the 2004 film Van Helsing, respectively portrayed by Silvia Colloca, Elena Anaya, and Josie Maran. Their roles are greatly expanded into those of secondary antagonists; motivated by a need to find a way for their offspring to live, as vampire children are born dead. They are also given the ability to transform into harpy-like creatures and fly.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Buffy vs. Dracula", the three vampire companions of Dracula are referred to as the Three Sisters.
- At the beginning of the 2012 film Dracula 3D, Dracula attacks a young woman named Tania (portrayed by Miriam Giovanelli) after she secretly meets a lover, making her a vampire. He later passes her off as his niece to Harker, whom she tries to seduce. Tania is eventually dispatched by Van Helsing.
- The Brides of Dracula concept was also present in the 1987 horror comedy The Monster Squad, in which Dracula abducts three young women and turns them into his vampire brides. Another appeared in the prologue.
- In Dracula 2000, the Brides are turned at different times throughout the movie. Jennifer Esposito, Jeri Ryan and Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick portray the brides, Solina, Valerie and Lucy respectively.
- The Brides also appear in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer in the season 5 premier "Buffy vs. Dracula". They are referred to as "The Three Sisters.". They are credited as "Vampire Girls".
- They appear in Dracula, the musical.
- In the Czech Musical Dracula, the brides are called "nymphs". They are the victims of Dracula, slightly resentful but still devoted to him. They are jealous, mischievous and enjoy troubles and gossiping. They serve as a comical relief but at the same time they represent Dracula's dark, vampiric side.
- They also appear in the French Canadian musical Dracula - Entre l'amour et la mort.
- They also appear in the 2002 Italian TV mini-series Dracula (known as Dracula's Curse in foreign markets). As in the 1992 version, they speak in their native tongue and play up their supernatural nature by being able to fly and phase through objects.
- In Hotel Transylvania, Dracula's wife Martha (voiced by Jackie Sandler) is a homage to the Brides of Dracula.
- In Fangland, author John Marks re-imagines the Brides of Dracula as Greek brothers.
- In the alternate history novel Anno Dracula, Dracula becomes dominant in Britain and eventually weds Queen Victoria, becoming Prince consort and Lord Protector. Despite being married to Victoria he keeps his retinue of Brides. It is mentioned that one of the Brides is Barbara of Celje.
- In the first sequel, The Bloody Red Baron, the Brides of Dracula are mentioned as including Mata Hari, Lady Marikova (from the novel The House of Dracula by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes), Lola-Lola (from the film The Blue Angel), Sadie Thompson, Lemora, and Baron Meinster (from the film The Brides of Dracula).
- In the beginning of the second sequel, Dracula Cha Cha Cha, a list of Dracula's official Brides is given. They are: Elisabeta of Transylvania (from Bram Stoker's Dracula), 1448–1462; Ilona Szilagy (Vlad III's real-life second wife), 1466–1476; Marguerite Chopin of Courtempierre (from Vampyr), 1709–1711; Queen Victoria, 1886–1888; and Sari Gábor, 1948–1949. The plot surrounds Dracula's engagement to Princess Asa Vajda (from Black Sunday).
- Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has written a trilogy called Sisters of the Night, with each book featuring the story of one of the Brides: The Angry Angel (1998) featuring Kelene, The Soul of an Angel (1999) featuring Fenice Zucchar and The Angel of Death (unpublished) featuring Zhameni.
- In The Diaries of the Family Dracul by Jeanne Kalogridis, the Brides are imagined as Zsuzsanna Tsepesh, a descendant of Vlad Dracul (believed in the novels to be his niece); Dunya, a Transylvanian servant of Vlad's mortal descendants, and Elisabeth Bathory, the notorious Hungarian noblewoman who murdered hundreds of her servants and bathed in their blood.
- In The Dracula Tape they are mentioned by Dracula who states that he has tired of them and does not even remember why he turned them in the first place. It is implied that unlike Dracula (who did not want to scare or harm anyone), the women let the power go to their heads once they became vampires. Dracula had more or less planned to abandon them in the castle. But while Dracula was trying to make friends with Harker, their visit as depicted in the novel only make the situation and misunderstanding worse. In this adaptation they are named Melisse, the tall dark haired bride. Wanda, the second dark haired one and described as full breasted as well as mentioned to be Melisse's younger sister. And Anna, the blonde haired bride who is noted to be the senior of the three and the one who is most outspoken and rebellious against Dracula, even attempting an assassination attempt on him at one point.
- In the Marvel Universe, the three Brides in the original novel are identified as Nikolett Bodo, Bettina Kaposvar and Emese Kisfaludi. They have been Brides since at least 1691 as revealed in the story Suffer Not a Witch in the Dracula Lives series. In the two-part story called The Pit of Death, set in 1809, the protagonist Lupescu is thrown into the titular pit while invading Dracula's castle. He is attacked by seven of Dracula's Brides, among them his blind wife, Velanna Lupescu. He manages to stake all seven and arranges their bodies into the shape of a cross so that Dracula would be unable to approach them to remove the stakes.
- A number of Brides are seen in the Marvel Comics series The Tomb of Dracula, ranging from victims long since turned from ancient times to recent ones of modern day. In the story The Return to...Transylvania!, Dracula seeks out his Bride Marissa Constanda to turn him into a vampire, after he had previously become human. She refuses, telling Dracula that she now serves a new master. In the story Into the Tomb, Blade encountered two Brides named Beatrix Nanai and Catherine Kiskvnalas while looking for his mother Tara Cross, who had also been turned into a Bride. All three were killed by Blade.
- The Brides are seen in the DC Comics mini series, Victorian Undead II: Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula led by Lucy Westerna in trying to ambush the heroes when they come to investigate a possible hiding spot of Dracula's. Curiously despite the Brides being centuries older, Dracula gave Lucy command over them, likely because of her resistance to religious symbols due to being turned in a modern era.
- In the mini-series Grimm Fairy Tales present Helsing, three of the Brides track down the protagonist and try to kill her. She kills two of them before the third retreats. Near the end of the story, when the heroes track Dracula to his mansion during a party, we see he has amassed a large group of women as his Brides though orders them to let the protagonist pass so she may confront him. They show up briefly in first issue of the sequel mini-series "Helsing vs Dracula".
- In Dracula: Ruler of the Night, which re-tells the story, the Brides are eventually summoned to London once Dracula has landed in the city and has the Brides infiltrate the Westerna household as maids after Helsing is summoned to cure Lucy to spy on their actions. It is from them that Dracula is able to enter the household and continue feeding on Lucy. When Lucy's mother is sent a telegraph about her deteriorating condition. Dracula sends the Brides to intercept her carriage and kidnap her. The mother, along with Lucy, later are turned into two new vampire Brides. Dracula grains a third bride in Milly Van Helsing, Helsing's wife, who he learns about from Lucy, absconds her from the mental institution holding her and restoring her sanity via the vampirism, albeit under his commands. Thus making a total of six Brides in this story—three from the olden times and three from the modern day era.
- In Count Yorga, Vampire, which is a modern-day re-telling of Dracula, Yorga likewise has his own set of Brides, first starting out with two: a red-haired Bride and a blonde (who is later revealed to be Donna's deceased mother), then later adding the protagonist's brunette friend, Erica to the ranks. The sequel, The Return of Count Yorga increases the number of Brides to a least a dozen, with the protagonist's sister, Ellen and a friend, Mitzi, joining them.
- In the webcomic, Dracula Everlasting, Dracula decides to start creating Brides again to give him an edge against the protagonists. He starts with three, two hookers, as well as the mother of the protagonist who was a witch when human, in the hopes of using her power against her daughter. After he loses her, he creates six more Brides in preparation for the final battle.
- In Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf, Dracula's bride is named Vanna Pira, a spoof of Vampira and Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White.
- Dracula, pg 47 "I dared not wait to see him return, for I feared to see those weird sisters",pg 244 "He come on moonlight rays as elemental dust, as again Jonathan saw those sisters in the castle of Dracula pg 377 "Then I braced myself again to my horrid task, and found by wrenching away tomb tops one other of the sisters, the other dark one. I dared not pause to look on her as I had on her sister, lest once more I should begin to be enthrall. But I go on searching until, presently, I find in a high great tomb as if made to one much beloved that other fair sister which, like Jonathan I had seen to gather herself out of the atoms of the mist. She was so fair to look on, so radiantly beautiful, so exquisitely voluptuous, that the very instinct of man in me, which calls some of my sex to love and to protect one of hers, made my head whirl with new emotion."
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- Jan B. Gordon's "The Transparency of Dracula", in Bram Stoker's Dracula: Sucking Through the Century, 1897-1997, edited by Carol Margaret Davison.
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- Vampires: The Marvel Undead (2011)
- Dracula Lives! #1 (1973)
- Dracula Lives! #10–11 ( Jan.–Mar. 1975)
- The Tomb of Dracula #68 (1979)
- Marvel: Shadows & Light #1 (1997)