Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vamp or Not? Terror Creatures from the Grave

Terror Creatures from the Grave is a film that often crops up on vampire filmographies. Indeed it is one of the films that appear on the twenty film set Undead: The Vampire Collection – however, many a film in that set is not a vampire film.

The film itself is from 1965 and was directed by Massimo Pupillo. It credits Edgar Allan Poe for the story – though like many such films it only has the vaguest of connections with Poe. The film does, however, feature Barbara Steele – always a good thing.

It begins with a man in an inn. He sees a hand against a window and runs out of the inn and through the streets. He reaches a stable, saddles a horse, unties it and then the horse rears, stomping his head.

Walter Brandi as Kovac
A car reaches a house, in it is the attorney Albert Kovac (Walter Brandi). He tries ringing the bell but it has no clanger and so he knocks, the door swings opens and he walks in calling for attention. A maid, Louise (Tilde Till), appears and takes him to Corinne Hauff (Mirella Maravidi), it is her father he has come about and so she takes him through to her step-mother Cleo (Barbara Steele).

Barbara Steele as Cleo
Cleo inspects the letter he has brought, written by her husband and sealed with his seal. It is a request for a will, it was written to Kovac’s partner Joseph Morgan (Riccardo Garrone) but Morgan was away and, as it sounded urgent, Kovac came instead. Cleo explains that her husband has been dead for almost exactly 12 months. The handwriting, however, looks authentic and the seal was buried in his grave. She and Corrine are at the house to transfer his corpse from its grave into the family chapel – as per his request that he be buried for 12 months. Kovac is invited to stay the night.

mummified hands
Corrine, it seems, believes her father is trying to communicate from beyond the grave. As well as being the town doctor he was a spiritualist who claimed to have communicated to the dead buried below the house – it was a plague hospital. Displayed in the hallway are the mummified hands of plague spreaders – men who deliberately spread the plague and so had a hand cut off before being hung. There is a storm that night (and Corrine believes her father came to her, causing her to scream and Albert to come a-running). In the morning the attorney’s car is wrecked after an owl got in the engine(!).

dead mayor
The local doctor (Alfredo Rizzo) gives Kovac and Corrine a lift to the village. Whilst he stops off at a patient’s house they walk by the nearby lake, Kovac makes a seductive move but then she believes sees her father and falls in the lake. They dry her off in the house. The wheelchair bound owner, Stinner (Ennio Balbo), was a friend of her father’s and recognises the letter seal, confirming its authenticity. They head off to tell the mayor, who is also the pharmacist, but when they get there he is dead – acid on his face.

Kovac and the doctor
The doctor is preparing the death certificate and the clerk gives him his paperwork already filled out on his behalf. The clerk claims that he knew the mayor would be found dead as the village heard the ghostly sound of the body collector’s plague cart that night and each time it has been heard someone has died – the ones to die being the men who signed the witness statement to Hauff’s accidental death, in the strict order they signed the document. The mayor was the third name, the fourth name belongs to Stinner and the fifth is illegible.

dead hand
That night Kovac hears a woman singing and sees someone by the fountain but she is gone when he gets there. The song talks about pure water being the way to be safe. Stinner hears the cart near his cottage and kills himself by fixing a sword into a cupboard and ramming himself onto the blade. We see a corrupted hand touch his dead shoulder. So, there is something supernatural going on, but what?

he has the plague
When disinterred, they discover Hauff is not in his tomb – he is not the killer though. As he died he cursed the five men, who actually murdered him, and the fifth is… Morgan; the attorney who was meant to get the letter from beyond the grave, and the illicit lover of Cleo. That night his curse will be complete. The plague spreaders – buried in the garden in unhallowed earth – are the ones killing and that night they will get the guilty and innocent alike. Their hands twitch in the display case when they rise but that is all we see of them. They spread a virulent form of the plague that will kill in minutes. The only protection is pure water.

So they are the dead risen, they are buried in unhallowed earth and they fear pure (rather than running) water. The water is the really vampiric aspect and yet it is there as it fits the story background – the plague spreaders would contaminate water and thus pure water is an anathema. All in all this has very little vampiric about it – Not Vamp.

The imdb page is here.


Christine said...

I saw this in YT some time ago. I didn´t think it as vampire story, either. Some nice atmosphere, thogh.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Christine, it does have that nice euro-gothic atmosphere running through it.

Zahir Blue said...

Sounds kinda fun, though.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Zahir, it is - in the euro-gothic sort of way