A Movie A Day: Quint tastes the BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE (1958)
’He begins where Dracula left off!’
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today we jump from disappointing pirate/cult flick THE HELLFIRE CLUB to the first of the DVD double feature BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE thanks to common writer Jimmy Sangster. It’s a good thing I didn’t blow off the first film because the second film on Dark Sky’s DVD double feature was a stinker.
I’m not saying BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE is a great film, but it’s a very interesting movie, a smart twist on the vampire and one that doesn’t feel like it was shot with $14 and a bucket of peanuts like THE HELLFIRE CLUB.
Basically you have a vampire movie without any fucking vampires in it, or at least the kind you’re used to. The movie opens with a stake being hammed into a corpse’s chest. And I mean hammered… This like pitching a circus tent-sized hammer and stake.
The Igor of this story, called Carl and played by Victor Maddern, is about as typically Igorish as you can get. Hunchback, check. Tattered clothes, check. Sloth-eye drooping down, check. He summons a drunk doctor who made arrangements with this corpse, apparently, and has a beating heart hooked up to some machine in a bubbling jar of something or other. He replaces the heart and is promptly killed by Igor/Carl and from that point on the corpse is rejuvenated, but has to keep a regular influx of fresh blood because his blood types don’t match and his cells are constantly fighting each other.
This bastard becomes the mad scientest running a looney bin in the 14th century and somehow intricately plans to get another doctor, Dr. John Pierre (Vincent Ball), convicted of murder after a risky experimental blood transfusion (unheard of in these times) results in the death of his patient.
Of course this doctor gets sidetracked to this insane asylum so he can help the evil Dr. Callistratus figure out different blood types and perfect the transfusion process, which will save his life.
Interestingly enough, Jimmy Sangster wrote the Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee COUNT DRACULA two years previous to this film and you can tell he’s going out of his way to tell a radically different story. It’s not as convoluted as I probably made it sound above, but it is a lot of fun and handled with great care by director Henry Cass.
It does, of course, ape the Hammer style, but in a good way. The Insanitarium is nice and gothic, the color photography is rich, the blood is thick red paint… classic stuff. And like I’ve already stated, it’s quite an interesting twist on the vampire legend.
Donald Wolfit is doing his best Bela Lugosi as Callistratus, crazy eyebrows and everything, but he’s still charmingly evil. He’s right at home in a dungeon, with a hunchback at his beck and call. Vincent Ball is likable as the good doctor and Maddern is just awesome as the Igor. Also keep an eye out for Barbara Shelley as Ball’s wife who has more to do than be chained up while screaming (although there is that, too).
Final Thoughts: A very entertaining flick that is more than just a Hammer rip-off. It’s definitely a B-movie, but it takes a very serious and interest approach to what exactly makes a vampire a vampire. I wouldn’t call the movie heady, but it’s definitely got a little more on its mind than most throwaway pictures of the era.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Friday, August 15th: TERROR OF THE TONGS (1961)
Saturday, August 16th: PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER (1962)
Sunday, August 17th: THE DEVIL-SHIP PIRATES (1964)
Monday, August 18th: JESS FRANCO’S COUNT DRACULA (1973)
Tuesday, August 19th: DRACULA A.D. 1972 (1972)
Wednesday, August 20th: THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY (1960)
Thursday, August 21st: MAN, WOMAN & CHILD (1983)
Over the next few days we follow writer Jimmy Sangster over to a few swashbuckling flicks featuring the great Christopher Lee. Tomorrow is TERROR OF THE TONGS! See you folks then!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Aug. 15, 2008, 5:34 a.m. CST
Aug. 15, 2008, 7:19 a.m. CST
I love that flick,...it's like watching all these weird films in one and half hours. Shame the rights crap will keep it buried for eons. I think id need weed to enjoy the next few flicks on the list Q...:)
Aug. 15, 2008, 7:22 a.m. CST
And Barbara Shelley mmmmmmm. Ahem. Scuse me.
Aug. 15, 2008, 7:59 a.m. CST
I've never even heard of it
Aug. 15, 2008, 7:59 a.m. CST
in this one, a pic of him always used to crop up in the horror movie books I read as a kid, he's really messed up. This was a pretty good movie, nothing really special but quite a solid job. I seem to recall the asylum's guard dogs were quite scary. And the name Dr. Callistratus is both silly and cool.
Aug. 15, 2008, 8:58 a.m. CST
... where the monster ends up with a violinist's hands? Or was it the violinist's brain in the monster's body? I think that's it. Saw it decades ago. <p> Either way, it featured a very sad violinist.
Aug. 15, 2008, 9:40 a.m. CST
Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, Hammer's final Frank movies. It has Dave Prowse as the monster who has the brain of a mathematical genius/musician implanted. Sad stuff.
Aug. 15, 2008, 9:57 a.m. CST
Quint, nice concept, great endurance and effort and your reviews are worth reading, at least when the movie is worth watching. But "Blood of the Vampire"? I know you're forced by the Kevin Bacon rule to go from film to film based upon linkage, but the last few films really aren't worth your effort. Granted, I'm not a Hammer films fan, but aren't there other, better movies worth watching? By the way, I hope you turn this series into a book after a little editing. Finally a suggestion - try to work the movie 1776 into your series.
Aug. 15, 2008, 10:14 a.m. CST
And while you're at it, could you do a book a week as well? After Dark Tower 7 I've fallen behind on my Stephen King. For that matter (and this is COMPLETELY off subject) are you looking forward to Marvel's adaptation of The Stand at all?
Aug. 15, 2008, 10:54 a.m. CST
P.S. Don't ever call me Knuckle again.
Aug. 15, 2008, 11:12 a.m. CST
The monster ends up with the hands of an artist.<br><br>Choosy dude, that Doc Frankenstein. Gotta hand it to him.<br><br>Heh.
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