(1965), B/W, 84 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Paul Nagel (as “Paul Nagle”)
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!
THE VAMPIRE, one of Mexican horror cinema’s crown jewels, is indeed a most interesting take on Universal’s DRACULA, albeit forty years after the fact, perhaps spawned by one of its many rereleases, or first apperance on Mexican television.
Subdued (for a Mexican horror film), and dripping with effective goth atmosphere, THE VAMPIRE is quite accomplished in many ways. It boasts some more-than-adequate performances and, although saddled with an ultra-simplistic script, actually manages to create a sense of dread and wonder.
The main credits roll over an action scene (vampire bites chick in neck), most unusual for a Murray release, in which credits almost always are superimposed over cheesy graphics or a still shot from the photoplay.
There’s the typical, and pleasant, sense of anachronism which haunts most movies of this period and genre, and we get to see some fantastic real-life footage of the rural Mexican countryside, as well as some wistful scenes of the national railway. In fact, the train could be from the previous century, until one sees the modern passenger coach, from which disembarks our lovely heroine.
And lovely she is, Ariadna Welter in one of her first horror roles, looking especially chompable.
We soon settle in for a predictable, yet not uninteresting, stew of old ghosts, rubber bats and gentleman vampires, reminding us of Mr. Lugosi and Mr. Stoker, and all that beloved jazz.
In fact, perhaps as homage, one of the Count’s footmen is dubbed by the Soundlab gang as if he were Bela Lugosi at voiceover camp!
The title ghoul is dubbed by super-voice Paul Nagel, is his best seducer-as-car salesman pitch. But when vampire becomes bat, it is dubbed as if it were a crow! Why?
There is a special treat in THE VAMPIRE for Murray enthusiasts; a dubbed song! “Go to Sleep Now” is a spooky mini-dirge, sung twice, by two different women, and very very precious.
The subplot about the “dead” ghost woman is quite fun, and when we first see her standing in the shadows in Martha’s room, we jump as she does, not bad for a late-night chiller.
The vampire Duval is sophisticated, double-dealing, and apparantly double-jointed: he sits bolt upright in his coffin in a springy move that would be tough for Jack LaLanne!
There are other nice touches here, not the least of which is the general run-down condition of “The Sycamores”, the estate Martha is due to inherit. It evokes a true old-world malignancy which is successful in creating a palette for terror.
THE VAMPIRE is an impressive and effective attempt at gothic horror in the grand old tradition.
HEAR THE ORIGINAL PROMO SPOT!
CLICK ON K. GORDON MURRAY!
* (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 VAMPIRE beget an equally memorable sequel: THE VAMPIRE’S COFFIN!
* According to AFI, THE VAMPIRE had its US premiere on March 2, 1968, in Jacksonville, Florida.
* Murray released THE VAMPIRE on a terrific theatrical double bill with THE CURSE OF THE DOLL PEOPLE, with the wonderful tagline: “A psychedelic trip into the 5th dimension!”