The Vampire – USA, 1957 – reviews

 

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‘It claws… it drains blood!’

The Vampire is a 1957 American horror feature film directed by Paul Landres (The Flame BarrierThe Return of Dracula) from a screenplay by Pat Fielder (The Monster That Challenged the World).

Like The Werewolf (1956), The Vampire offered a science fiction take on a traditionally supernatural creature, although the films were produced by different production companies.

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The Arthur Gardner and Jules V. Levy production was released theatrically on a double-bill with The Monster That Challenged the World. It was shown on American TV as Mark of the Vampire. In the UK, the film was cut by the BBFC to obtain an ‘X’ certificate.

On April 11, 2017, the film was released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory.

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Main cast:

John Beal (Amityville 3-D; The Bride), Coleen Gray (Tales from the Darkside ‘The Shrine’; The Phantom Planet; The Leech Woman), Kenneth Tobey (The Thing from Another World; It Came from Beneath the SeaThe Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), Lydia Reed, Dabbs Greer (House IV; It! The Terror from Beyond Space; House of Wax).

Plot:

The late Doctor Campbell was experimenting with vampire bat blood just before his death. Fellow doctor Beecher (John Beal) finds a bottle of pills among Doctor Campbell’s effects and takes them home.

Unfortunately, Doctor Beecher’s daughter accidentally substitutes the vampire blood pills for her father’s migraine tablets. As a result, the kindly Doctor Beecher starts having blackouts from the pills, making him change into a bloodthirsty monster by night…

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

“As routine and juvenile as this synopsis may sound, John Beal actually turns in a strong and highly sympathetic performance as the tormented doctor and elevates the picture.” Joe Karlosi, DVD Drive-In

“What it lacks in music and atmosphere it makes up in composition and variety of shots. It has good makeup, two time-lapse transformations, and several effective shock moments.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

“Predictable and rather dull, the film undercuts its own rationalist-scientific approach – with small town replacing gothic castle – by having Beal transform into a wrinkled, shaggy monster-man.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

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“Part Jekyll And Hyde story and part traditional vampire movie, the highlight of the film is the last twenty minutes or so, with the time lapse transformation from man into monster standing out as the coolest thirty seconds in the entire movie. Sure, the effects aren’t good by modern standards and you can plainly see that he’s just got a bunch of fuzz and latex glued to his face and hands, but there’s definitely a whole lot of wacky charm to this movie.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!

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” …The Vampire is hindered by uneven pacing, especially in the crucial final act, and by special effects that are nothing short of miserable. Worse yet, the filmmakers seem to have had no idea how pathetic their monster makeup was.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

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“The film, while not having the best makeup effects as it looks like they simply pasted some hair and silly putty on the guy to make him a vampire, looks beautiful.  The cinematography by Jack MacKenzie coupled with the direction by Paul Landres is crisply shot in black and white and they make good use of the surroundings with heavy shadows to give the movie the needed tension and dread.” The Telltale Mind

“Infantile stuff, despite the censor’s “X”. But on the whole, a reasonably chilling chiller, with some nice small-town touches.” Picturegoer, 1957

Full pressbook at Zontar of Venus

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Cast and characters:

  • John Beal as Doctor Paul Beecher
  • Coleen Gray as Carol Butler
  • Kenneth Tobey as Sheriff Buck Donnelly
  • Lydia Reed as Betsy Beecher
  • Dabbs Greer as Doctor Will Beaumont
  • Herb Vigran as George Ryan
  • Paul Brinegar as Willy Warner

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