Director: Miguel Morayta
First Released: 1963
Depending upon the source you read this is either classed as the prequel to or sequel to Bloody Vampire. Research indicated that this was shot first during a back to back shooting schedule but released second as it was the sequel.
In truth, though it again features the vampire Count Siegfried Von Frankenhausen (Carlos Agosti) it fairly much stands alone. Some of the interesting lore concepts from the earlier released film remain such as that of clammic acid – I’ll explain later – elements such as the victims of vampires rising, as dead vampires, when the main living vampire is killed also remain but connected lore such as the element vamparina has vanished. Importantly the Cagliosto family are not in this film, though it is an agent of theirs who is the main protagonist.
After discordant music over the title plates we hear a howl and see the peasants cower in fear. A man stands watching the gateway to a hacienda, the gateway seems flooded with light and a woman walks out of the light. The man follows the woman, who seems oblivious to him. He stands at the edge of the forest as she disrobes at the edge of a lake (Dead Man’s Lake to be precise) and enters the water. We hear a man’s scream.
A buggy stops on the road which is driven by comic relief character Crescencio (Fernando Soto “Mantequilla”) and has the passenger Dr Ulysses Alvaran (Rafael Del Rio). They have stopped for a procession of torch carrying villagers who bear the body of the young man. After they have passed Crescencio tells him that it is always the same on the night of the full moon and that he should go back to the village. Alvaran is determined to go to the Haunted Hacienda and thus goes on alone. As an aside I wonder if the hacienda is called the Haunted Hacienda in the original film or whether that was an edition in the K Gordon Murray dub?
He reaches the hacienda and rings a bell. This summons Frau Hildegarda (Bertha Moss) – to whom he gives a letter of presentation. Despite complaints about the lateness of the hour she takes it to her employer and then lets him in. Alvaran is there to see the Marquis Martez (I think, the dubbing was poor), and the letter was from his old friend Count Cagliostro. He wants Alvaran to set up some experiments in the area – he is a Doctor of alchemy and the occult and an expert on vampires. The Marquis allows him to stay, though Frau Hildegarda protests.
He goes to the village and enters the wake for the dead man. A priest (Enrique Garcia Alvarez) prays and, during this he speaks to the dead man's father and the local doctor. It seems that each person has a different theory as to what is killing the young men. The Doctor thinks that mass hysteria is focused upon one of them and makes them have a heart attack. The priest believes it is the work of Satan, but is dismissive of vampires and actively works against the hero through the film due to this. Of course Alvaran believes it is vampires and the bite marks on the corpse’s neck seem to conform this.
Alvaran also discovers that the Marquis’ daughter, Brunhilde (Erna Martha Bauman), married Count Frankenhausen, and they had a daughter also named Brunhilde (and played by the same actress). One day the Count and Countess went for a walk to Dead Man’s Lake. No one knows what happened but she died, the Count vanished and the daughter has not been seen by the villagers since – they assume she followed her father.
Brunhilde (the Count’s daughter) is actually still with her grandfather, but he keeps her hidden from view, and it is she who walks to the lake – we eventually discover after some meandering. Why? Because the Count (who is a vampire) makes her walk in a hypnotic trance and he picks off the villager as a snack. Including the Countess 23 have died and the priest won’t bury them.
The film is quite messy, but it ends up with Alvaran and Brunhilde in love and him needing to get a certain black mandragora root in order to make clammic acid with which to fight the vampires - Clammic acid being an alchemical concoction that is truly effective against the undead. Frankenhausen has some vague world domination thing going on and Hildegarde is his servant, waiting to be made a vampire. However I mentioned the concept that, such a vampire be killed, all his victims rise – well this is the money shot of the whole film, eventually. First of all we have to note that Alvaran has had all the vampire victim’s staked. He is attacked by Frankenhausen in bat form and this film does contain some of the worst excesses of crap bat syndrome.
Alvaran manages to throw a metal stake at the bat and pin it to the wall at which point all the victims do rise, stakes still through them. They approach the hacienda and, in many respects, look rather zombie like in their shamble. Loved ones come to the fore to try and lure people outside and it is a wonderfully realised scene, worth wading through the mess of a film for.
You see the biggest problem with this is the over-dub, which may have muddled the story – it is difficult to tell. The film is also not of the best stock (though it was a DVD-r that I purchased). This film desperately needs a good restore, as does Bloody Vampire, and releasing in a double pack, with original soundtrack, English dubs and any cut bits (for Bloody vampire) restored back in. Diemos, Masters of Cinema or Casanegra, I am looking at you.
As it stands, Invasion of the Vampire is a bit of a mess and woefully paced in places. Other than the rise of the victims I felt it didn’t quite manage to capture the same level of atmosphere as Bloody Vampire, but that scene made up for it. 3 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Director: Miguel Morayta