THE BLOOD OF
(1965), B/W, 98 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Stim Segar (as “Stem Segar”)
THE BLOOD OF NOSTRADAMUS is terrific, easily the best of the four Nostradamus features, with a fantastic plotline, many haunting images, and some gripping dramatic sequences.
As it is a composite of the last episodes of the serial LA MALDICION DE NOSTRADAMUS, it is the most melodramatic and strongest of the four Nostradamus TV features.
The familiar cartoon graphics of bats flying over a moonlit forest are underscored by also-familiar theme music, and we expect the familiar high-end soap-opera melodrama we enjoyed in the other installments. We get it, too, but here, we get much more.
There is an incredible sequence, as Leo and Nostradamus sway in evil reverie in their catacombs, when they are suddenly joined by the bizarre, dancing shadows of the undead!
There is a lot of very effective cross-cutting, as Dolan and Company zap Nostradamus with his electric machine.
There are rare scenes of Leo running around in plain sight, as well as an odd and poignant fixation on his little white mouse, apparently his only friend.
Also poignant; Leo wants to fly like his master, and in fact challenges the big bully vampire at one point, insisting he make good on earlier, unkept employment promises.
In fact, Nostradamus and Leo remind one a great deal here of the odd, star-crossed couple in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”.
As in the other Nostradamus installments, there is a parade of many humorous and bizarre peripheral characters. Father Godwin is hilarious, a fulla-shit pompous twerp as real as any actual Catholic hustler. Cheap torch singer Olga Martin is a wholly fetching drunken bar slut, and also-drunk police chief Rojas is a marvelous depiction of reckless corruption in authority.
Dubbing and dialogue are both top-notch, with many memorable soundbites.
A most interesting feature of this installment in the series is that the vampire villain becomes almost “human”, and we see his powers weakening, his plans crumbling, his will dissolving. He whimpers pathetically before his father, and cowers shamefully at the pain caused by Professor Dolan’s Electro-magnetic ray beam.
In fact, some of this “humanizing” of Nostradamus is kind of hilarious, as when Nostradamus waits around, frustrated, for a cheap whore to change her clothes for what she thinks is just a date! The great unholy one frets and paces and bites his lip like any henpecked husband or frustrated gigolo!
The last half-hour, consisting of the final chapter of the serial, is fantastic.
This fabulous segment also contains a truly unnerving plot twist: dear Professor Dolan becomes the enemy of the people!
There’s also an evocative montage of incredulous citizens scoffing at the existence of vampires, while Nostradamus walks amongst them, unnoticed, as well as an exciting, cross-cutting finale.
THE BLOOD OF NOSTRADAMUS is terrific, a winning horror classic with Frankenstein and Dracula touches, a shining example of Mexican cinema’s often exemplary excursions into gothic horror.
* (updated 02-14-06) Thanks to a terrific new book we just received, “Ghouls, Gimmicks and Gold” by Kevin Heffernan, (2004, Duke University Press), we have been able to update the U.S. television release date for this Murray horror title to 1965. The appendices to this study of the horror film in America, circa 1955-1968, include complete listings of syndication feature film packages from many distributors, including American International Television, who subleased the K. Gordon Murray film catalog under the title THRILLERS FROM ANOTHER WORLD. It seems that 1965 was the watershed year for genre film sold to television, with a veritable flood of titles released by both domestic and foreign distribs.
* (effective 05-01-03) After a very brief window of availability, this long-sought K. Gordon Murray title is once again out of print, due to international copyright issues. Used video tapes of this title may be found on online video dealers and auction sites. Stay tuned for further developments!
* THE BLOOD OF NOSTRADAMUS was one of the first US TV features patched together from the source films, a ten-part Mexican theatrical serial. The other installments are: THE CURSE OF NOSTRADAMUS, THE MONSTERS DEMOLISHER, and THE GENIE OF DARKNESS.
* Here is some new information on the Nostradamus films, from Jean-Claude Michel:
“Twelve episodes, not ten, were made, as follows:
1/ El dedo del destino
2/ El libro de los siglos
3/ Las victimas de la noche
(these comprised LA MALDICION DE NOSTRADAMUS/THE CURSE OF NOSTRADAMUS)
4/ El destructor de monstruos
5/ El estudiante y la horca
6/ El ataud vacio
(these comprised NOSTRADAMUS YE EL DESTRUCTOR DE MONSTRUOS/THE MONSTERS DEMOLISHER)
7/ El genio de las tinieblas
8/ Mas alla de la vida
9/ El hijo de la noche
(these comprised NOSTRADAMUS, EL GENIO DE LAS TINIEBLAS/THE GENIE OF DARKNESS)
10/ El aparecido en el conviento
11/ El ave negra
12/ La ultima victima
(these comprised LA SANGRE DE NOSTRADAMUS/THE BLOOD OF NOSTRADAMUS)
“These episodes were released in the form of four “features” in Mexican theaters, each of them made of three episodes. These four features were shown theatrically, respectively, on: August 31, 1961, April 13, 1962, December 14, 1962, April 5, 1963.
” ‘Historia Documental del Cinema Mexicano’ mentions that another film, ‘EL TESTAMENTO DE VAMPIRO’, also part of the series and starring the same principals, was shown in Mexico on October 20, 1961 (so, chronologically, the second “feature” in the series). Following are the credits:
EL TESTAMENTO DEL VAMPIRO
Director: Federico Curiel
Co-Director: Alberto Mariscal
Screenplay: Federico Curiel
from a story by Carlos Enrique Taboada & Alfredo Ruanova
Photography: Fernando Alvarez Garces “Colin”
Camera Operator: Raul Dominguez
Art Director: Arcadi Artis Gener
Editor: Juan José Munguia
Music: George Perez H.
Sound Editor: Felipe Marino
Made at Estudios America
Shooting date: from August 13, 1959 to …
Release date: October 20, 1961
Cast: German Robles, Julio Aleman, Domingo Soler”
(David Wilt believes that “El testamento del vampiro” is in fact a re-titling of one of the other features, probably LA MALDICION DE NOSTRADAMUS.)
-Rob Craig, kgordonmurray.com
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!