Mark of the Vampire is a 1935 American horror feature film, starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, and Jean Hersholt and directed by Tod Browning. It is a talkie remake of Browning’s 1927 silent London After Midnight with the characters’ names and some circumstances changed.
Mark of the Vampire was originally 75 minutes but was cut back to 60 minutes by MGM. Reportedly this was due to erotic overtones – then unacceptable by the standards of the Production Code – between Count Mora (played by Lugosi) and his daughter. However, the audio commentary on the DVD makes no mention of supposedly controversial scenes and suggests that much of what was cut was comic material, particularly surrounding the maid.
In Prague, Sir Karell Borotyn (Holmes Herbert) is found murdered in his own house, with two tiny pinpoint wounds on his neck. The attending doctor Doctor Doskil (Donald Meek) and Sir Karell’s friend Baron Otto (Jean Hersholt) are convinced that responsible for the murder is a vampire, specifically Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (Carroll Borland), which the police inspector (Lionel Atwill) refuses to believe. Now his daughter Irena (Elizabeth Allan) is the count’s next target.
Enter Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore), an expert on vampires and the occult, who’s sent in to prevent her death. At the same time, secrets are revealed surrounding the circumstances of Sir Karell’s death…
“Hammy, leadenly paced remake of the same director’s London After Midnight (1927) with just a few visual compensations for connoisseurs.” Howard Maxford, The A – Z of Horror Films, Batsford, 1996
“its surprise twist doesn’t make sense and plays like an unwelcome afterthought […] Bela Lugosi goes through the entire picture with an unexplained bullet wound in his temple. Actually a vehicle for a talented trio of middle-aged talent (Barrymore, Atwill, Hersholt), Mark of the Vampire is some stylish scenes in search of a movie.” DVD Savant
“The ending tends to stick in the craw of horror fans for a very good reason and, even though I find it interesting enough to avoid giving it the Rubber Brick award, nonetheless it had the potential to be a lot more satisfying than Dracula if it had delivered on its promises. As it is, we may just have to settle for the fact that it has some very moody and effective moments before it reaches that point.” Fantastic Musings and Ramblings
“The film is neither satisfactory as a horror movie nor as a straight detective thriller.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook, Batsford, 1982