THE BLOODY VAMPiRE
(aka COUNT FRANKENHAUSEN)
(1965), B/W, 98 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Produced at Soundlab, Coral Gables, Fla.
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Manuel San Fernando
This fantastic installment in the “Death by Cross-Cultural Harvest” Sweepstakes opens with those drippy main titles we know and love, this time hovering over a cheesy cartoon graphic (either inspired by, or taken directly from, the Mexican poster art) composed of a bat, a laughing skull, a moon replete with moonbeams, and a simplistic crown, surely a crown of evil; it rests on top of Murray’s production credit, to reiterate, in case we had any doubt, that Murray is not only the “King of the Kiddie Matinee”, but also the “King of 60’s Occult Cinema!”
The prologue features an effective slow-motion scene of a horse-drawn carriage galloping across a foggy hilltop, in a sequence reminiscent of one in the 1932 DRACULA, and similar scenes in Carl Dreyer’s same-year expressionist gem VAMPYR.
The following scene, with Count Cagliostro arriving at a distant castle, is also a rip-off of the Lugosi/Universal classic. A coffin falls away like a college foot locker. Frankenhausen raises his slave-woman, in another powerful slo-mo scene.
Much of the subsequent action takes place in Cagliostro’s home, in an immense room, in which rests a ridiculous family crest, a silly four-part graphic that looks like something a first-year design student might concoct in a mid-term rush.
Meanwhile, the evil Frankenhausen pontificates ad nauseam on the tiresome pseudo-superiority of evil, and seduces young innocents in a sexually perverted subplot which owes much to de Sade… In fact, there is more than one passing plot reference to de Sade’s ecstatic apocalypse thriller, “Justine”.
The saucy maid gets alot of screen action, including an undressing scene, and one in which she gets vigorously molested by the lord of the manor. In fact, this movie has a lot of pissed, saucy chicks telling off dolts; somehow sexy, in a 60’s TV way!
A seemingly superfluous dialogue scene, which pops up out of nowhere, features a protracted debate on the origins and virtues of coffee (!), and turns out to be a theological turf war in code, involving both “Good” and “Evil” and their uses of organic herbs and roots to achieve their various political ends! This eccentric, shrewd scene is, like, almost DEEP!
I love this movie! In color and with a little more skin, this flick would be a legend…
The pre-finale is seriously sexy (for that innocent time), and the juxtaposition of sex and religion is provocative as hell!
The finale takes place in a torture dungeon, replete with a skeleton on a rack, not unlike one Murray showed to US kiddies a year before via his blockbuster fairy tale, PUSS N’ BOOTS.
The (very) end is quite cool: the screen goes blank after the final speech, with swelling music, then lightning, and only then, THE END! Whew!
And all of this to a memorable, downright avant-garde score by Luis Hernandez Breton (which combines weird electronic riffs with majestic religious choral arrangements, synthesized).
THE BLOODY VAMPIRE is a terrific flick, a rich and dense period piece, perhaps even a classic of obscure gothic horror, with much to recommend it, including an abundance of atmosphere, some respectable shock f/x, an adherance to cine-vampire tradition, a tangible sexual subtext (the scene where Frankenhausen gets cursed by his poker-holding servant/lover Eugenia is real strong), and pages upon pages of swift, convoluted, empassioned dialogue (some lines straight out of pulp fiction). Talky to a fault, and grandiose to boot, like a reckless, overwrought horror soap opera (can you say “Dan Curtis?”), much of the script appears to be a hasty, casual attempt to create a Euro-Anglo vampire legend after the fact. And brought to life, fun all the way.
-Rob Craig, kgordonmurray.com
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!