Friday, September 28, 2007

Blood of the Vampires – review


Director: Gerado De Leon

Release date: 1966

Contains spoilers

This Philippines vampire movie was always going to suffer when I looked at it as it is so poorly dubbed. Think of the worst examples of dubbing of a film, when bought by a US studio, and then multiply it… yup it is that bad. The challenge was going to be looking past the dubbing (and the poor sound transfer on the DVD) to see if it was going to be a little gem hidden beneath.

Leonore and EduardoThe film begins at a party. Though it isn’t directly stated, the film does indicate through the running time that the party is for the return home of brother and sister Eduardo (Eddie Garcia) and Leonore (Amalia Fuentes), who were sent away by their father after their mother died. Eduardo dances with Christina whilst Leonore goes into the garden with Christina’s brother Daniel (Romeo Vasquez) where he proposes.

Leonore accepts his ring but Daniel wants to do things traditionally and so says that his father, Don Julio, will plead his case to her father. They hear what sounds like a woman scream. They go deeper into the garden to investigate and the noise now sounds like a woman ranting, incoherently, but reach a dead end. They return to the house to tell Leonore’s father but, as they walk in, he collapses clutching his chest.

father in death bedThe father is on his death bed, now I say death bed but he manages to last through half the film and also to be up and around, wielding a whip, albeit clutching at his chest a lot. He names Don Julio as his estate’s administrator and adds a condition to his will that the accursed house be burned to the ground. Eduardo is a little nonplussed at this change but his father decides to show him something.

vampire motherThere is a secret passage behind the portrait of Eduardo’s mother (Mary Walter) that leads to a dungeon area. In it is a coffin, it is opened and the body of his mother is in it. Father explains that, 9 days after she died, she returned – which is why he sent the kids away. She is a vampire, sleeping by day and thirsting for blood at night. She opens her eyes and Eduardo runs back to the house.

chaining up motherDon Julio pleads Daniel's case but Leonore’s father refuses to allow her to marry – anyone. He fears the family curse. She doesn’t understand until she too sees her mother, whilst the father whips the vampire and chains her up. Having seen that she spurns Daniel and the film follows their doomed love. Eduardo, in the meantime, faces his mother alone and, in a moment of stupidity, takes his crucifix off and is bitten. He becomes a vampire also, determined to turn his sister.

Now you might be wondering why the father never destroyed the vampire mother. The film is not explicit but one can guess it was because he loved her too much. The vampire lore itself is strange in places. The mother is like a raving beast but Eduardo is more together, perhaps that is because she died and returned whilst he was simply bitten and turned when alive.

Eduardo sees his fangs in the mirrorThe vampires have reflections and can be destroyed by stake and fire. We have already established that the vampires sleep during the day and Eduardo is obviously missing from their father’s funeral. Yet it also appears that he married Christina, whom he had bitten and who calls him master, during the day.

One thing I did notice was that a mysterious red light seems to appear over the mother when she is on the vampiric prowl – that has to make them easy to track.

Amalia Fuentes as LeonoreThere might be a dark doom hanging over the film but it literally drips with melodrama and one gets the feeling that the dubbing might have added to that but one also feels that the melodrama was there in the original form of the film. In the same respects the acting is poor and I don’t think it can just be blamed on poor dubbing. That said the film does manage to develop a very tangible atmosphere, though not enough to save it from its own soap opera feel.

It is genre interesting, however, as it has a clash between a vampire and a ghost, not the normal monster mash one would expect to see. That said, it is still pretty poor. 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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