Originally Dracula’s Daughter (1936) was to be based on the short story "Dracula's Guest" by BramStoker, which was published in 1914 two years after Stoker’s death. Yet the film bears no resemblance to Stoker’s original story. David O. Selznick (the producer of Gone with the Wind (1939)) had secured the rights to Dracula’s Guest for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Selznick, then sold the rights to Universal because he could not legally make the film due to Universal's copyright on the original film.Laemmle, was in charge of production at Universal , had originally wanted James Whale to direct Dracula’s daughter. Whale had proven to be a very capable to director with his handling of Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). But Whale was reluctant to direct two horror filmsin a row. With Whale unavailable, Laemmle hired Lambert Hillyer who is best known for directing westerns to direct the film.
Originally Bela Lugosi was expected to reprise his role as Dracula, in one of the earlier screenplay versions. In that version, one of several, the story was to pick up 500 years earlier than the original Dracula, but that version was deemed unacceptable by the British Board of film censors saying that “Dracula’s daughter would require half a dozen languages to adequately express its beastliness”. Ironically, Bela Lugosi earned $4,000 (which was $500.00 more than he was paid for Dracula (1931)) for his participation in publicity photos for the film, despite the fact that he did not actually appear in the film. Universal submitted a draft to the PCA (Production Code Administration). The PCA’s response was that the screenplay "contains countless offensive stuff which makes the picture utterly impossible for approval under the Production Code."
Problems with the script continued and Dracula’s Daughter (1936) was rushed production before the script was actually finished because of a clause in Universal’s contract with Selznick. Even though Universal ordered that the film be shot on a seven day per week schedule the film still ran seven days over in schedule and $50,000 over budget bringring in the final cost of the production to 278,380.
Gloria Holden who played Countess Marya Zaleska aka Dracula's daughter was less than enthusiastic about being assigned to the role. Dracula’s Daughter(1936) was her first starring role however Holden, like many actors during that period, held horror films in low esteem. She also feared that the role was typecast her as a horror actress. However her loathing of the role may have actually helped her performance. As critic Mark Clark once pointed out "Her disdain for the part translates into a kind of self-loathing that perfectly suits her troubled character."
Dracula's Daughter (1936) is noted as the first vampire film to hint at lesbianism. In one scene the Countess Marya Zaleska preys upon an unsuspecting young girl Lili, played by Nan Grey, whom she has hired as a model for one of her paintings. Interestingly enough this scene made it past the censors however the PCA insisted that the scenes of the Countess seducing a man be cut from the film.
Dracula’s Daughter was finally released on May 11, 1936 to mixed reviews. The film never achieved the critical acclaim or the financial success of the original. However it is recognized by many film historians as the finest sequel of any of the Universal horror films.