Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Vamp or Not? Valley of the Zombies


Okay, by the title it seems that this 1946 movie, directed by Philip Ford, shouldn’t be classed as vampire but, as we know, the vampire and zombie genres do mix up and, I’ve got to say, this doesn’t fall easily into the zombie category.

I don’t want to go into a frame by frame so essentially Dr Maynard (Charles Towbridge) has had blood stolen from his surgery. He is going to phone the police when he is confronted by a man named Ormond Murks (Ian Keith). Murks was committed to an asylum five years ago, by Maynard, as he had a blood obsession. Four years ago Murks died in Maynard’s surgery.

Ian Keith as MurksMurks explains that he sought the place between life and death – a place of living death and found the answer in a voodoo potion from a place called the Valley of the Zombies. The potion bestows living death but must be supplemented by blood. As the Doctor has none of Murk’s blood type, and Murk’s knows that they are the same blood type, Maynard is killed for his blood. Then Murks kills the lab assistant Fred (Earle Hodgins), who is in fact his brother, as he has developed cold feet.

Susan and TerrySuspicion falls upon Maynard’s associate Dr Terry Evans (Robert Livingston) and the nurse Susan Drake (Lorna Gray) and they begin to investigate the murders in order that they might prove their innocence.

It is, in fairness, not a great movie, in many ways preposterous in content, dialogue and acting, but is it vamp? All through the film the word zombie is used but Murks is articulate, intelligent and has a need for blood to maintain his state of living death – the fact that he specifically needs his own blood type is rather unusual. This notwithstanding, these traits owe more to the vampire than the zombie genre. Murks is also able to hypnotise Susan into being his willing servant, again not a trick zombies are known to perform but certainly in keeping with the vampire genre.

I wouldn’t rush around trying to find this film, but if you do ever see it I would say that you are watching something that owes much more to the vampire genre than the zombie genre.

The imdb page is here.

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