Thursday, July 16, 2015

Creature of the Walking Dead – review

Director: Jerry Warren*

Release date: 1965*

Contains spoilers

There are some films that just hide away undetected. With a title that is overly clunky and a tagline that was marvellous – The Fountain Of Youth Is Filled With Blood! – this is a film that I have only just come across… and you know what, sometimes you wish they’d just stay hidden!

Okay, I’m spoiling the review’s punchline by saying that but, blooming heck it was bad. * Now it may not have been the film's fault. It was originally a Spanish film called La Marca del Muerto (Mark of the Dead) from 1960, IMDB suggests the English language version is from 1965 but I have seen 1964 listed. I don’t know if the original Spanish version still exists but the director is listed on screen as Frederic Corte, whilst IMDb suggest it was directed by Jerry Warren and by directed they mean bastardised.

in the shadows
We start with a Criswell-esque voiceover, though it is supplied by character Dr Martin Malthus (Fernando Casanova). He tells us the story of his grandfather Dr John Malthus (also Fernando Casanova) as we see things play out on screen. John was a bit of a whack-a-doodle it appears, with a desire to achieve everlasting life. At a church he follows a young woman, kidnapping her and dragging her chloroformed self into his home.

mad scientist
When she comes round, on a laboratory slab, he chloroforms her again and then stabs a needle and tube into her heart. He is draining her blood through a machine (which I guess treats it). He gets on a nearby slab and is about to hook himself to the machine by stabbing a needle into himself when he hears a banging at the house door. He goes up (despite the lab being hidden) and discovers it’s the cops. He is arrested and hung. We then get a long, long sequence of a couple of cops getting massaged and discussing the case. Apparently John felt he was justified in what he did and whilst he looked 30-33 years old he actually graduated as a doctor 27 years earlier.

the crypt
Jumping forwards, Martin inherits the house. He finds the lab when he’s poking around and opens the secret door. The abducted woman is still on the slab – long decayed – and the lab has cells all containing corpses. He also finds John’s journal. In a leap of daft logic he goes to the cemetery and steals John’s corpse. He takes it to the lab – where he already has a victim ready – and in another ridiculously languorous scene transfuses blood from her to the corpse. He doesn’t kill her but falls asleep.

without blood
John is resurrected and his desiccated, corpse like features made young. He puts the victim in a cell and tells the now awakened Martin that he thinks him a weakling as he didn’t kill her! Eventually John starts to age and needs more blood, but when he appears young they are identical bar the fact that John has the ligature scar left by the hangman’s noose. Due to the general disdain for his grandson, John locks Martin up, taking over his life and hoping that Martin’s fiancé, Beth (Sonia Furió, Dr Satán y la Magia Negra), doesn’t question his new habit of wearing scarfs. John needs more blood, of course; actually blood from four victims and, given he has three people in the cells, Beth could actually make up the last part of the quartet…

the first victim
So it is a vampire, definitely, a corpse revitalised and walking due to blood – though through scientific means rather than supernatural agency. But, hell, it is boring. Long drawn out scenes and a story that just seems to drag along (even though the film is relatively short at under 70 minutes). The voiceover fills the viewer with dread and there is little to recommend this cut. How the proper Mexican version would fair is another question. But this version gets 2 out of 10 and no further commentary.

The imdb page is here.


Khaia said...

The plot about an ancestor being reanimated and then taking the place of the descendant was first used by HP Lovecraft in "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward".

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Good point Khaia, well made. Ward was of course 1927 - whether an earlier story did similar, I can't rightly say, but Ward was certainly earlier than this film and being a Lovecraft story it is, of course, wonderful.

Thanks for stopping by :)