Sunday, 13 September 2020

Blood of the Vampire

Blood of the Vampire (1958)
In 1958 with a couple of successful films under his belt legendary Hammer scriptwriter Jimmy Sangster was hired by Tempean Films (later to be the home of 'The Saint' TV series) to work his magic for them.

Over at Hammer where Sangster was to write some 22 films (and work on many more) he was responsible for many of the studio's classics starting with 'X the Unknown' (UKUS) in 1956 before breathing life into both of the studios greatest monsters in 'The Curse of Frankenstein' (UK / US) in 1957 and 'Dracula' (UK / US) in 1958.  For Tempean he was to reuse much of the gothic trappings that had served him so well on his previous two films but with an added twist of a slightly more modern take on the vampire myth that again took inspiration from both the movies he'd written immediately prior.

Blood of the Vampire (1958) Barbara Shelley
Carlstadt, 1880, disgraced doctor John Pierre (Vincent Ball) is convicted of murder and sent to a prison for the criminally insane run by Dr Callistratus (Donald Wolfit) and aided by his deformed assistant Carl (Victor Maddern) where he is quickly co-opted into helping with his captor's sanguinary experiments.  Meanwhile, on the outside, Pierre's fiancĂ©e Madeleine (Barbara Shelley - 'Quatermass and the Pit' (UK / US), 'Village of the Damned' (UK / US)) is determined to prove his innocence.

Kudos must be given to Sangster for trying something a little different here but the movie isn't a great success.  It's a pretty sluggish watch and director Henry Cass struggles to inject much life into the proceedings.  Neither of the two leads have the charisma to carry the plot and the always reliable Shelley isn't given anywhere near enough to do.  The stand out here is Maddern labouring under heavy make-up his performance is subtle, menacing and ultimately sympathetic all without ever uttering a single word.

Buy it here - UK / US - or watch it below.


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