Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Curse of the Vampire – review

Director: José María Elorrieta

Release date: 1972

Contains spoilers

La Llamada del Vampiro was a euro-horror and I need to start by saying that there is a 102 minute cut of the film but I watched an 88 minute dubbed version. This fact may naturally lead us to discover why the plot was fairly nonsensical, though I suspect not!

Margaret staked
It is, however, euro-horror and begins with the Baron von Rysselbert (Antonio Jiménez Escribano) reading a book as a woman, Margaret (Loreta Tovar, Return of the Blind Dead) comes down the stairs. She reveals fang and lifts a knife, intent on stabbing the rather shocked Baron. Lucky for him, the housemaid comes in, grabs a cross from the wall and a stake from the firewood, forces Margaret back and stakes her.

Dr Dora and Nurse Erica
Following a really surreal piece of soundtrack, replete with grunting noises, we are at a funeral. We discover later the village doctor has died. After everyone leaves a man, Carl (Nicholas Ney), remains and throws a rose down into the grave. Either his palm his been bitten by a vampire or the thorns of the rose pricked his hand. The Mayor, who had been at the funeral, has arranged for a new doctor to come and he hopes she will dispel the superstitious nonsense. She is Dr. Dora Materlick (Diana Sorel) who attends with a nurse called Erica (Beatriz Elorrieta, the Night of the Werewolf).

bedside manner
They are quickly called to the castle, as the Baron has had a heart attack, and are asked to stay there. Now, not in the first scene with him but later, Dora attends him in her skimpy gossamer nightgown (and Erica’s top is flapping open) and… well I ask you, how was that going to help his heart! Anyway Carl seems to have a thing for Erica, shows her around, acts weird and has memories/hallucinations about Margaret – who was his cousin and ‘went to Switzerland and was never heard of again’. We also hear of vampires… unusual lore coming up.

warping in the mirror
Vampires, we hear, are living creatures or sometimes cadavers that prowl at the full moon and have no reflection. When the full moon comes around we see Carl acting odd but he has a reflection and so can't be a vampire... however the reflection then warps and, eventually, vanishes. It seems, therefore, that vampires only shy from crosses and lose their reflections when in vampire mode.

flouncing vampires
Erica is bitten, becomes a vampire, removes Margaret’s stake – having been telepathically lured to her resting place – and they hunt the countryside wearing gossamer night dresses and flouncing around. As for Dora, well it seems that she was always obsessed with vampires – or so we hear when her friend and blood specialist Veronica (Inés Morales) arrives . And this might be the crux of the movie.

blood at mouth
The plot makes little sense. A vampire appears wearing a robe, we don’t know who he is. A shy camera cuts away as women undress for the shower but lingers on the full frontal nudity of a lesbian vampire scene. Hallucinations seem to occur. Erica seems to drown herself in quicksand (whilst in vampire mode) and yet appears later. Its all odd but, despite the fact that it is not all from Dora’s perspective, if we take it all as symbolic of her breakdown (she’s shipped off to a hospital at the end, clearly mad) then the film actually makes some sense.

It isn’t the best shot or together euro-horror but I would love to see the longer cut in the original language. The characters are weird – especially Carl. It gets just 3.5 out of 10 but with the caveat that euro-horror fans will get a kick out of it anyway.

The imdb page is here.


RoseOfTransylvania said...

Pros: I´m all for vampire castles and full moon curses, yai!
Cons: everything else?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I guess everything else might be a con, but (as I mentioned) fans of Euro-horror will get a kick out of the whole thing