OF THE VAMPIRES
THE INVASION OF THE VAMPIRES
(1965), B/W, 92 minutes
distributed by Trans-International Films
produced at Soundlab, Coral Gables, Fla.
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Manuel San Fernando
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!
THE INVASION OF THE VAMPIRES is a classic, a genuinely creepy and moving film, a classic of gothic horror, and surely the showpiece of the Murray horror canon. It is haunting, and effective. It is the film which takes the Murray horror catalog out of the obscure, oddball or “camp” categories and plunks it smack dab in the “neglected horror classics” section.
There is high drama, supernatural revelation, and even some sexual perversity in this strongest of Mexican horror imports.
The absolutely avant-garde, very unique musical soundtrack is quite unnerving. As in its cousin, THE BLOODY VAMPIRE, the memorable score is by Luis Hernandez Breton, which combines weird electronic riffs with majestic religious choral arrangements, synthesized. The effect of this music is profound upon the mood and atmosphere of the piece, and must be counted as one of the film’s many highlights. In fact, this score would make a hell of a soundtrack album.
The opening shots, of terrified villagers gaping at a deadly full moon, are terrific in setting the mood of the piece. Through acting, atmosphere and music, a palpable terror is formed.
The opening scene is absolutely dynamite, in which a distraught male watches a robed ghost-woman walk through the foggy dawn, in a morbid yet sexually terrifying scene, made even more uncanny by the bizarre reverse-harmonics on the soundtrack.
The woman strips, walks into a nearby lake, and kills the man, all to a horrific choral arrangement. The murder which transpires seems also most sweet, and certainly romantic, in comparison.
Then there’s the great big rubber bat-puppet of Frankenhausen, with incredible rabbit ears and a grimacing ghoul-face like something Paul Blaisdell might have made for an AIP drive-in quickie. This is a great prop.
The “burning of the corpses” scene illustrates well the eternal, unwinnable battle between sanity and religion (who are never bedmates).
The eventual “invasion of the vampires” is terrific as well, with the thick ambience, wonderful choreography and disturbing music, as powerful as similar “the dead walk” scenes in INVISIBLE INVADERS, LAST MAN ON EARTH and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. They all still have their stakes-in-heart, a nice touch.
The miracle potion called “Vampirina” in THE BLOODY VAMPIRE is here referred to merely as “Clamic Acid”. An intentional switch, or a dubbing oversight?
What is most memorable, even subversive about this, and other Murray horror films isn’t their shock or gore or blood or sex content, all of which are quite tame by any standards. It is the raw interpretation of gothic horror traditions, plus the strong religious/supernatural content, which makes them significant in cultural memory.
Even in the mid-60s, when these films first hit US TV, the country was habituated to repress its religious tradition, and the frank, even stark allusions to devils, demons, Jesus and Hell were already somewhat “incorrect”, philosophically-speaking.
In fact, the gore films of the 60’s and 70’s may be a knee-jerk, anti- intellectual reaction to the strong content in films like Murray’s, in which the exotic, uncensored theological opinions of foreign countries like Mexico are unleashed, virtually intact, into the intellectually and spiritually sterile US culture, thanks to the literal-minded dubbers at Soundlab, Inc. .
To be blunt, the Murray horror films are a significant, if ironic, messenger of Catholic culture to the US, which was rapidly losing Catholicism, thanks to the destruction of “Camelot” (the murder of JFK). The sometimes decades-old Mexican horror films, then, were a flashback or reminiscence, of the US theologic “soul” several innocent decades previously.
In a culture where learning has long been reduced to mere audio and visual input, this raw input of undiluted, atmospheric supernatural drama probably had a greater effect upon the TV viewers of the US, aka “Young America,” than we realize…
The obligatory expositional scenes, which are many here, counteract the mystical, revelatory scenes which predominate, and the mix is a wild and wooly romp in cultural hallucination.
THE INVASION OF THE VAMPIRES is a true star of the K. Gordon Murray horror catalog.