THE VAMPiRE’S COFFiN
(1965), B/W, 82 minutes
Presented by Young America Productions
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 VAMPIRE’S COFFIN is the fun sequel to the equally fun THE VAMPIRE. One of the coolest things about this film is the weird sense of anachronism it conveys. Film opens with a spooky, atmopsheric prolog in which graverobbers Manson (the great Yerye Beirute) and Dr. Marion (the nervous Carlos Ancira), steal Count Lavud’s coffin from its crypt resting place, in a setting which clearly looks like the early 18th century. Thus, when after the credits the first thing we see is a 1955 Chevrolet hearse pull up in front of a hospital, we suffer a strange sense of temporal dissociation as we realize the film is a contemporary drama!
Again, in later scenes which take place (for no apparent reason) at a local wax museum, the dungeon-like atmosphere of the place looks like some dank castle of deSade, not the basement of a 20th century Mexico City tourist attraction!
Also fun is the hospital setting in general, in which nurses and doctors wearing tight white coats flirt with each other and try like hell to create a steamy soap opera-like atmosphere ala the Dr. Kildare movies of the 40’s (which may have been an influence). The always-lovely Ariadna Welter, such a powerful presence in many Mexican horror films, makes a very sexy nurse here.
The vampire-in-modern times plot is very exciting (done well the same year in THE VAMPIRE with John Beal), with the gothic Lavud appearing out of nowhere into antiseptic hospital rooms and modern urban buildings, sometimes fading in slowly, at other times just popping into frame. However, the marks he leaves on victims’ necks are at least 4″ apart! Man, he must have some bite!
One bit that’s a little curious occurs when the graverobber Manson goes to hide out in the basement of his friend Charlie’s wax museum. Part of their dialog involves saying their names back and forth: “Manson!” “Charlie!” “Manson!” “Charlie!” Sort of like an invocation of evil spirits…
The essentially throwaway scene in which Lavud stalks and kills the tramp is strong, and highly sexual.
The film’s big production number, featuring Ariadna Welter as both a tart and a virgin sacrifice, is sensational, a curious mixture of kitsch ballet and screwy modern dance.
For drive-in patrons of 1965, this co-bill with THE ROBOT VS THE AZTEC MUMMY must have been as much, if not more fun than the main feature! Oh man, what a night that would have been!
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* (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!
* Popular Mexican producer/actor Abel Salazar made several other great Mexican horror films during this period (the beloved THE BRAINIAC among them), many (all?) of which Murray brought to the US.
* According to AFI, THE VAMPIRE’S COFFIN/THE ROBOT VS THE AZTEC MUMMY had their US premiere on November 17, 1965 in Cincinnati, Ohio.