THE GENiE OF DARKNESS
(1965), B/W, 78 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Stim Segar (as “Stem Segar”)
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case wrapped in plastic!
This third installment in the Nostradamus serial-cum-features is quite entertaining, and features some of the most unusual characters in the whole series.
We revisit Dolan’s friend and colleague, Igor the Vampire Hunter, who we first met in THE MONSTERS DEMOLISHER. Here, the creeepy white-magic warlock again uses his wacky “magic cauldron” to find secrets about his undead enemy.
Igor and Nostradamus finally have the confrontation we’ve long been expecting, a psyhic battle of wits which, unfortunately, Igor loses. This scene is dynamic and intense, thanks to some great close-ups and jiggy camerawork. It reminds one of a similar psychic contest in David Cronenburg’s great SCANNERS (albeit without the exploding confetti heads).
In a poignant follow-up, Nostradamus scatters his enemy’s ashes for the benefit of his most unholy father.
Also, we get to meet the hunchback Leo’s mother (!), a hilarious, cackling old-school witch-hag named Rebecca! Scenes with Leo and mom are strictly comedic, especially as Murray and Co. saw fit to dub her as a nagging Jewish mother! You could call these remarkable segments “At Home with Leo”!
However, the comedy turns sour when Leo’s boss, Nostradamus, murders Rebecca cruelly, paralyzing her in a house of flames, while poor son Leo cowers in fear outside, unable to intervene. This nasty bit well conveys Nosty’s darkest side.
Another interesting scene occurs when Tony and Anna visit a gypsy fortune teller, in order to extract hidden memories Tony has regarding Nostradamus’ whereabouts. The scene ends with Nosty taking over the gypsy, and apparently, killing him.
We also get to see Dolan’s cool lab again, as he continues his experiments with bats. He seems to have obtained even more extra-cool equipment this time.
We also see something curious we don’t see in alot of horror cinema; a town crier! “10:30 and all’s well!”
But for the understandably open-ended finale, this is a fine gothic horror feature, and a marvelous warm-up for the incredIble THE BLOOD OF NOSTRADAMUS!
* (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 GENIE OF DARKNESS 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 BLOOD OF NOSTRADAMUS.
* 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.)