The Vampire (1957)

AKA: Mark of the Vampire

I’d never heard of this movie, but that’s really not all that surprising. There are so many movie’s with the word “Vampire” in the title, that it’s easy to see how a few of them could be overlooked.

Dr. Beecher is the good, quiet small town doctor who is loved and respected by all. But a series of events involving the work of a local scientist in town causes him to accidentally take a pill designed to “cause the mind to revert to a primitive state.” Unfortunately, the scientists experimental animals found the drug habit forming, causing them to die if the dosage was withheld for 24-hours- all the animals except for the bats, that is (it’s always the damn bats.)

The Vampire is interesting in that it is not strictly a ‘monster movie’, instead focusing on science as opposed to  just the supernatural to explain much of what is going on. Yes, it might be a fair question to ask why a scientist would be experimenting on such things, as the initial reaction to the information can be a bit repulsive. But, scientists and psychologists have long been studying and making progress in both physical and mental illnesses in animals by studying abnormalities, either natural or induced. It’s this more plausible premise that gives the film a bit more weight.


Why he turns into a bat with epidermal issues is a question for another time.

The acting for the movie is well above par, with the cast being filled with actors who were either already or would become TV/Movie veterans. The interactions between characters flow naturally and Beecher’s increasing addiction is believable, and unforced. And when Beecher realizes what’s going on and attempts to send his daughter away for her own safety the scene between them is almost heartbreaking. Really, the only downside to the acting is towards the end, when Dr. Beecher ends up sounding more like some large rodent than the bat he’s (supposedly?) supposed to resemble. But I’ll put most of the blame for that on the sound department. Other than that, top notch.



The biggest issue the film has is that the make-up is a little cheesy (read: Poorly inadequate) , which is quite a shame. You don’t see him in full make-up until the end, but it’s still a little disappointing. I suppose they used up their special effects money to show us what the ‘vampires’ victims looked like.


The skin melted off, but the eyes remained fully intact? I hope it’s some small conciliation to her that she’ll be able to freak out future grave robbers.

In the end, The Vampire is a very interesting variation on the vampire theme. It’s less a vampire movie and more of a combination of The Wolf Man and Jekyll and Hyde with a dash of Frankenstein thrown in for good measure. It even includes the requisite message of not tampering with things man was meant to leave alone. Except in this case the victim isn’t the mad scientist experimenting with things he shouldn’t be experimenting with. Beecher is just a man who cares too much. By the end you feel sorry for him, because he’s just a good man subjected to a cruel fate. If you enjoy vampire or monster movies and aren’t turned off by the poor make-up, feel free to give this a shot.

The Vampire is currently streaming on Tubi TV.

The Vampire is also available on DVD and Bluray.

Michi

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