A remake of Lambert Hiller's film Dracula's Daughter, which is itself loosely based on J. Sheridan LeFanu's "Carmilla."
Nadja is a slacker vampire, and everyone else in the film is a slacker too. She's a monster not only because she kills to live, but because she enthralls people with no good reason. Her explanation for making Lucy into a zombie--"I was lonely."
The vampire hunters are equally unsympathetic. Lucy and Jim are just plain stupid. Lucy spends her days working in a copy shop while Jim is getting beat up by old men. Van Helsing is completely insane. The only reason he's not is jail for murdering Dracula is because the police lack a body. He believes women are even more insane, more in touch with nature, and thus perhaps more vulnerable. Menstruation makes their bodies a monthly disaster area.
Nadja believes women are smarter than men, and maybe they are in this film, but not by much. Nadja eludes everyone in the end when she switches bodies with Cassandra, thus marrying her own brother.
Nadja is able to accept her own nature as a frivolous, sexually predatory creature. Edgar continually fights against his nature, which makes him weak and dependent on the drippy Cassandra.
But Nadja wants to change her life, and she believes that this is possible now that her father is dead. But this transformation isn't for the better. Like her counterpart Countess Zaleska, Nadja goes from being a strong, independent female to a drippy, conventional woman. She becomes Cassandra and marries Edgar, and there is evidence that this new improved Cassandra isn't very guided by Nadja. At the end of the film, we see Cassandra's doing things--marrying Edgar, going swimming--but Nadja provides the voice over. Yet this voice over implies that the new Cassandra/Nadja combination is unsure of Nadja's influence. Cassandra asks if Nadja is still there. Is she?
The film ends with a sort of cognitive estrangement typical of horror. Cognitive estrangement occurs when something old and familiar is viewed in a new way as to make it seem threatening and monstrous. When Nadja claims Cassandra's body, we have this type of cognitive estrangement. Good Cassandra the nurse falls in love and marries. But it is now Nadja who is part of this action, making it strange and potentially threatening. Will Cassandra/Nadja and Edgar have a baby? Will that child be the product of incest? Will that child be strange?
Another moment of cognitive estrangement occurs when Nadja first seduces Lucy and causes her period to come. The event of menstruation is itself a sort of cognitive estrangement. It has the power to transform a woman normally seen as rational and intelligent into something else. This is the "truth" behind jokes about women being less than competent or rational before or during menstruation. Although the effects of Lucy's menstruation are redundant here. The men in her world are already predisposed towards seeing her as less than rational during menstruation. Van Helsing comments that Jim's own mother was actually the picture of femininity when she "went beautifully haywire" during her period. He later comments that women's capability of menstruating is proof that nature (which is associated with women) is a continual disaster area. It is interesting that he sees menstruation as a catastrophe (or other natural disasters as catastrophes) rather than something that is part of the natural world. Apparently Nadja must bring on Lucy's menses in order to enthrall her. One wonders how Nadja enthralls her male victims since they can't menstruate.
The Vampire as Parasite: Nadja invites this comparison when she invites Cassandra to compare the difference between plants and animals. To her, the human body is completely disgusting. It's the opposite of plants, which take nothing and make everything they use. Plants are, of course, the opposite of Nadja, who takes everything and contributes nothing. Earlier in the film, she freely admits that she is pretty much not good for anything.
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Legend Has It: The Legend of Lilith