Reign of the Scream Queens: Julie Adams

Scream Queen Legend

Born October 17, 1926, Betty May Adams screamed her way into the hearts of Universal Monster fans in 1954’s Creature From The Black Lagoon. Of course, by the time of the release of Creature, Betty was billed as Julie Adams. She needed only one horror film to secure her place in Scream Queen history. Prior to her performance as Kay Lawrence in Creature, Ms. Adams was a regular performer in a number of western films. She would continue performing in westerns after her starring role in Creature.

Ms. Adams has 148 film and television acting credits to her name. In the late 1950’s she shifted her focus from film to television. She guest starred in a number of popular television shows over the years including Night Gallery, The Rifleman, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Beverly Hills, 90210, The Incredible Hulk, Melrose Place, and Murder, She Wrote.

I recommend watching Creature From The Black Lagoon to see just how wonderful Ms. Adams was on the screen. I also recommend watching a few episodes of her spookier appearances on television, particularly her performances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Night Gallery, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

Julie Adams passed away in 2019. She was the final surviving “damsel in distress” from the Universal Monsters films. She’s also the sole autograph that I ever received from the Universal Monsters films. Despite only appearing in one major horror film, Ms. Adams cemented her place Scream Queen history with her amazing performance in Creature From The Black Lagoon.

Tomorrow I’ll be taking a look at one of the most prolific Scream Queens in film history. Who is she? Return tomorrow to find out!

Throwback Thursday: Stand By Me (1986)

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”

Based upon Stephen King’s novella The Body, 1986’s Stand By Me may not look like a typical horror story from King but it definitely has horror elements. I’m not talking about vampires or demons or werewolves or even teenage girls with telekinetic powers. Nope, the horror in Stand By Me is much deeper, scarier, and real. It’s about growing up, dealing with family issues, and finding one’s way in life. That’s a lot scarier than a vampire in my book.

The story is about four young boys about to enter junior high who decide to go looking for the body of a recently deceased young man. One of the boys, Vern, overhears his brother talking about finding the body and not wanting to mention it to anyone because it would tie him to a car theft. Vern decides to tell his friends and they set out to discover the body for themselves, turn it into the authorities, and become heroes. As they follow the train tracks to the site where the body was found, viewers learn things about each of the boys. Gordie wants to be a writer and is struggling with the loss of his older brother, Denny. Chris, Gordie’s best friend and protector, battles with the fact that his family’s reputation hinders his own dreams. Vern isn’t as mature as the other boys and comes off as dimwitted at times. He fights to fit in with the rest of the group. Teddy has to deal with an abusive and alcoholic father who physically beats him and even tried to burn off his ear. All four of them are uncertain about entering junior high.

As the boys hike, Vern’s older brother, Billy, and his gang of friends headed up by the sinister Ace Merrill, are also on the trail to find the body. The two groups square off with one another. I won’t reveal what happens, but just know that in the end, we find out what happens to each of the four boys. It’s an amazing coming of age tale that gives people a glimpse into the minds, hearts, and fears of youngsters about to become men.

The story is narrated by an adult Gordie. He has become a successful writer and he tells the story of himself and his friends as they search for the body. I see him as a representation of Stephen King and King has said as much in interviews over the years. King also claims that this is one of his favorite films based upon his work.

The film was directed by Rob Reiner. It was one of his earliest directorial efforts and it is definitely one of his best. That’s saying a lot considering how many wonderful films that Reiner has directed over the years. The film’s soundtrack features some great music from the 1950’s and 60’s and the boys sing along with many of the songs as they walk the rails. The cinematography is amazing as well.

Stand By Me (1986) | Pers: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell.

The film’s cast is loaded with future stars of film and television. Young Gordie is portrayed by Wil Wheaton. Wheaton would go on to portray Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as guest star as himself on multiple episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Wheaton continues to work today having done voice work, web series, and a number of other projects. Speaking of The Big Bang Theory, another guest star on that series was Jerry O’Connell. O’Connell portrayed Vern in Stand By Me and he played Sheldon Cooper’s older brother on TBBT. O’Connell has had a very successful career as a voice over artist, star of film’s such as Joe’s Apartment, and appeared on a number of notable television shows including Sliders. Corey Feldman portrayed Teddy. Feldman already had quite the pedigree as an actor and his star would soon rise even higher when he teamed up with Corey Haim in a long string of successful films. Chris was portrayed by the late River Phoenix. Phoenix was well on his way to a massive film career after appearing in movies like My Own Private Idaho and Running On Empty. He tragically passed away at the age of twenty three due to drug use. Richard Dreyfuss portrayed the adult version of Gordie. Stand By Me was just one more in a long line of successful films for the star. John Cusack, another major star in film, had a small role as Gordie’s deceased brother Denny who appears in flashbacks.

Ace’s gang features a number of excellent character actors such as Casey Siemaszko and Bradley Gregg. Perhaps the biggest star of the film outside of Richard Dreyfuss is Kiefer Sutherland. He portrays Ace and the character is an excellent harbinger of what was to come with Sutherland’s portrayal of the equally wicked vampire named David in The Lost Boys. A string of hit films and a successful television show would follow. Just a few of his films include Young Guns, Flatliners, The Three Musketeers, and Dark City.

This is an amazing film. I hope that you take a look at it if you haven’t done so yet. It’s currently streaming on Netflix and runs about an hour and a half long.

Thanks for taking a look back with me. See you again soon.

Thirty-One Days O’Horror 2022: Reign of the Scream Queens!

2022 Is All About The Ladies!

Whether they graced the screen in one film, one franchise, or across decades of horror films, certain women have always risen to the top of the horror genre. In 2022 I will look at thirty-one of the most famous, most memorable, and most beloved scream queens from horror.

From Heather Langenkamp to Neve Campbell and Jamie Lee Curtis to P.J. Soles, I’ll be taking a brief look at the films that put these ladies on the scream queen map and how their careers fleshed out before and after their iconic horror appearances. If you’d like me to focus on a specific actress, let me know who they are and why I should focus on them.

Oh, and don’t think that I’m only going to focus on the good girls. There are plenty of bad girls from horror films that deserve the title of scream queen as well such as Felissa Rose as Angela Baker in Sleepaway Camp and Tiffany Shepis as Patrice in Delta Delta Die! Some of them even hop the fence from goody two shoes to bad, bad girl!

I hope that you’ll join me next year for an amazing look at scream queens. Who knows? I might even nab a quick interview with one of them!

Next year is gonna be a scream!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

“I’ve harmed nobody, just robbed a few graves!”

Hammer Horror entered the world of color with 1957’s The Curse Of Frankenstein. Not only that, Hammer introduced classic monsters to a whole new generation of horror fans. The film would prove to be a huge success and would quickly be followed by a number of sequels and other monster films, many of which would feature Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee facing off against one another.

The film is a loose adaptation of Mary Shelley’s famous novel. In the movie, Peter Cushing stars as Baron Victor Frankenstein, a man condemned to death for the murder of his maid, Justine, who also happens to be his secret lover. Hoping to convince someone of status that he is innocent, he requests an audience with a local priest. From there, the story flashes back to a young Victor. He is the sole controller of his family’s estate and hires a scientist, Paul Krempe, to be his tutor. The two form a strong bond and they begin experimenting on bringing the dead back to life. After a successful test, Victor plans to piece together plans to create new life, something Paul is staunchly against.

As Victor slowly spirals into madness, Paul remains at the estate in order to protect Elizabeth, Victor’s cousin and future wife. Victor begins buying body parts and eventually resorts to murder in order to get a suitable brain for his creation. Paul attempts to stop him multiple times but is put off by Victor’s threats to harm Elizabeth. Victor succeeds in creating a new life, but it proves to be a brain damaged specimen that has a murderous temper. Paul finds himself facing not one, but two enemies, the monster and its creator. Can he defeat them both? Check out The Curse of Frankenstein and see for yourself!

The movie was received negatively by most critics of the time, especially those in the United Kingdom. General movie audiences loved the film and it was a major financial success for Hammer. Much like the success of Frankenstein (1931) for Universal Studios, The Curse of Frankenstein provided the monetary kick for Hammer to create more films based on classic monsters as I mentioned earlier. The movie also began the lifelong friendship of Lee and Cushing. Although the duo had performed in other films prior to Curse, this was the first film where they actually interacted with one another. They were almost exclusively rivals in Hammer films, but the pair were best friends in real life.

The film had a great cast. Many of its stars would continue to appear in Hammer films. Cushing did a superb job as Victor Frankenstein. His descent into insanity was extremely subtle, almost unnoticeable at times, but you could see in his eyes that he was going mad. Christopher Lee’s role as the creature was limited to a few grunts and moans and one scream, but he did a great job nonetheless. Hazel Court, who would go on to appear in The Man Who Could Cheat Death for Hammer and a number of other films for other companies. She portrays Elizabeth in Curse and does a very good job. Robert Urquhart portrayed Paul in the film and was perfect as Frankenstein’s foil. Valerie Gaunt portrayed the poor Justine in the film and she did a wonderful job. She would appear with Lee and Cushing again in Dracula (Horror of Dracula in the USA).

The film’s sets were simply breathtaking. Frankenstein’s laboratory was a work of art, especially the device that he and Paul built in order to bring life back to a dog and would eventually be used to birth the creature. Frankenstein’s estate and the paintings used for the road to it in the beginning of the film were amazing.

This wasn’t Terence Fisher’s first Hammer film but it was his first Hammer film in color. It certainly wouldn’t be his last. He became the company’s go-to director for Gothic horror and would continue directing Hammer horror films, many of which would star Cushing and/or Lee. He kept the pacing of Curse at a nice clip and did a wonderful job of keeping the film interesting.

I really loved this film and I’m glad that I picked it for my final movie during my Thirty-One Days O’Horror focusing on Hammer films. I hope that you have enjoyed my journey through Hammer Horror and I can’t wait to do it all again next year. In fact, I’ve already selected my area of focus for next year and it will be revealed…….tomorrow! See you all again real soon!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)

“There is evil in the world. There are dark, awful things.”

Hammer gets groovy with Dracula A.D. 1972. The film was Hammer’s attempt at modernizing the classic Dracula theme that the company did so well with in a Gothic setting. The updated version still featured the two masters of Hammer horror, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, in the roles that put them on the map. Lee donned his cape as the dreaded Count Dracula and Cushing slid comfortably back into his role of Van Helsing albeit as a grandfather this go round.

The film opens in 1872 with Dracula and Lawrence Van Helsing battling one another atop a horse carriage. As they fight, we also see a young man on a horse following the duo. The battle come to a head whenever the horses pulling the carriage get loose and the buggy crashes, mortally wounding Van Helsing and Dracula. As Dracula’s body dissolves, the young man collects the count’s ring and some of his ashes. The film then jumps ahead to 1972 and we are introduced to a swinging group of young twenty-somethings. Among them are Jessica Van Helsing, the granddaughter of Lorrimer Van Helsing, an anthropologist and occult specialist who often assists law enforcement on special cases that involve possible witchcraft or occult elements.

An enigmatic member of the young group named Johnny Alucard convinces the rest of them to join him for a black mass-styled ritual at St. Bartolph’s, a deconsecrated church that also happens to be where Lawrence Van Helsing is buried (and some of Dracula’s ashes were buried as well). The ritual occurs one hundred years to the day after the death of Van Helsing and Count Dracula. The group becomes intensely frightened by the ritual, especially whenever Alucard “baptizes” one member of the group, Laura, with blood. The young adults run out of the abandoned church. They leave Laura, who has become hysterical, and Johnny behind. Soon enough, Johnny removes a stake from the ground in the cemetery and Count Dracula arises. He drains Laura of her life. On the next day, Johnny attempts to convince his friends that the entire ritual was a joke, but when Laura’s body is found and Lorrimer Van Helsing’s services are requested by Inspector Murray, things become very, very serious. More of Jessica’s friends die, some become vampires, and Van Helsing goes on the hunt. Does he save Jessica? Will any of the youngsters survive? Find out in Dracula A.D. 1972!

Despite a somewhat awkward title and some very dated music, this film is one of my favorite Lee/Cushing Hammer films. Lee chews his way through each and every scene and Cushing bleeds cool at every turn. Christopher Neame, who plays Dracula’s disciple in both the past and in 1972, is full of charisma. He was perfectly cast as Johnny Alucard. Stephanie Beacham does a fine job as Jessica Van Helsing. Michael Coles is excellent as Inspector Murray, a role he would reprise in The Satanic Rites of Dracula along with Cushing and Lee. While Jessica would also appear in that film, she would be played by Joanna Lumley instead of Beacham.

The majority of Hammer fans seem to dislike this film or find it to be too silly to be a truly good movie. It’s my opinion that those folks are wrong. This is an enjoyable Count Dracula/Van Helsing film that stands on the strength of the performances of Cushing, Lee, and Neame. Oh, and Tim Burton is a fan so there’s that!

Thanks for checking out my post. Tomorrow is the final day of Thirty-One Days O’Horror! Let me know what you think about this film or any other film that I’ve reviewed in the comments section.

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: Charlie Boy (1980)

A Different Type Of Fetish

A young couple trigger a terrible spell in Charlie Boy, the sixth episode in the wonderful Hammer House of Horror anthology series. The episode’s “horror of the week” is voodoo and comes in the form of an African fetish doll. The episode is genuinely creepy and manages to build up a decent amount of suspense.

The story opens with the death of a young man’s uncle and then moves along to the young man, Graham, and his wife, Sarah, arriving at the deceased uncle’s home to collect their inheritance, the uncle’s art collection. They decide to sell all but two pieces of the collection. Graham chooses a favorite painting from his youth and Sarah selects an African fetish doll that she nicknames “Charlie Boy.” While driving home with the doll, the couple encounter an angry driver that attempts to harm them in a fit of road rage. After they get home, Graham playfully asks “Charlie Boy” to off the driver and while he stabs the doll, the driver is stabbed in real life.

With money in hand from the sell of the art collection, Graham and Sarah decide to talk with Graham’s cousin, Mark (who received the bulk of the estate as part of his inheritance), and their mutual friend, Phil, a film director, about finally starting up their own production company. Mark has other plans, however, and this angers Graham. Graham then goes home, stabs the fetish doll with a knife, and Mark dies in a terrible riding accident the next day. Graham and Sarah begin to piece together what they believe might be happening as more people die. Graham reaches out to the art dealer for help and finds out that he must burn the fetish doll in order to end the curse. Not only are Phil and the family housekeeper, Gwen, in line to die as a result of the curse, so are Graham and Sarah. Will Graham be able to successfully destroy “Charlie Boy” or will the evil doll finish its wicked curse? Watch Episode 6 of Hammer House of Horror to find out!

The cast of this episode is excellent. Graham is portrayed by Leigh Lawson, who has acted on stage and screen and directed as well. He has a child with Hayley Mills and is married to the famous model, Twiggy. Sarah was portrayed by Angela Bruce. Bruce has appeared in numerous television shows over the years but I’m pretty sure that my readers will know her from her work on Doctor Who, Blake’s 7 (audio drama), and Red Dwarf. Michael Culver guest starred as Mark, the cold-hearted son of Graham’s uncle. Culver is best known to my readers as Captain Needa in The Empire Strikes Back. He has had a prolific career in supporting and recurring roles on both the screen and the stage. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her role, Janet Fielding (Tegan from Doctor Who), guest stars as a worker on one of Phil’s film projects who answers the phone.

This was a fun episode. The fetish doll was creepy and the finale was amazing even though it was a bit predictable. The episode reminded me of a ton of other genre shows and films including Final Destination and Trilogy Of Terror. I also enjoyed seeing all of the actors from other science fiction properties, especially those that I love. Check out this episode. I believe that you’ll enjoy it.

As always, thanks for checking out my post! We are just two days away from finishing off Thirty-One Days O’Horror!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The Resident (2011)

Dr. Bliss

The second coming of Hammer Productions in the 2000’s has focused primarily on traditional horror stories involving vampires, ghosts, and bringing the dead back to life, but 2011’s The Resident goes in a different direction. It uses voyeurism, stalking, and psychological horror to feed the fears of the audience. In theory this should have worked extremely well, but it’s all pretty flat despite a star-studded cast, a wonderful setting, and a plot grounded in reality.

In the film, Hilary Swank stars as Juliet Devereau, an ER doctor who finds herself in need of a new apartment. Thinking that she has landed the deal of the century, she moves into a massive apartment owned and managed by Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who lives in the building along with August (Christopher Lee in his final Hammer film role), an odd elderly man. As the days go by, Juliet begins to get weird feelings in her apartment. She also begins to hear odd creaking sounds. She struggles to determine if the sounds and feelings are genuine, a fabrication of her own mind, a supernatural occurrence, or even a stalker.

Thrown in for good measure is Juliet’s strained relationship with her ex, Jack (Lee Pace). When she begins seeing him again, the bizarre happenings seem to ramp up and Juliet has cameras installed to see if she can catch a ghost or her stalker. Things come to a head when Juliet begins to oversleep and arriving late for work. With a blood test she discovers that she is being drugged and things go into overdrive. Who is her stalker? Is it a ghost, a jilted lover, or something even creepier? Watch The Resident to find out.

This has got to be one of the worst Hammer films that I’ve watched during my Thirty-One Days O’Horror. It absolutely falls flat. There’s no genuine terror, no especially good acting, and the slowest build up to the most anti-climactic ending that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a true shame that this was Christopher Lee’s final appearance in a Hammer film as he was completely wasted in it. Hilary Swank was uninspiring on the screen. Jeffrey Dean Morgan did manage to give us a few creepy moments but he fell flat as well. Poor Lee Pace……well, let’s just say that he did nothing to speed up or slow down the pace of this film. This was bad, y’all. Really…..bad.

Don’t watch this snooze fest unless you only want to see Christopher Lee in his final Hammer role. I cannot recommend it. It’s sad because this film had so much potential based on its cast and theme, but it never found its footing and never managed to do much more than generate a few icky feelings. This was a dud.

I want to thank you for reading this review. The film was pretty bad but I promise that tomorrow’s review will be of a much better film. See you later!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The Witches (1966)

“They relish the idea of a secret power.”

If you’re looking for a film with an amazing cast, a strong story, and plenty of atmosphere and build up, 1966’s The Witches is exactly the film you want to see. Oh, if you also want a brilliant film that is entirely derailed by complete absurdity in its final ten minutes, The Witches is also the film that you wish to view. This film pulled me in right from the beginning and held my attention until its climax. At that point I threw my head back a bit and said, “This is bad.” It’s a true shame, because up until the climax this film is a pure joy to watch. Perhaps the book that it is based upon by Norah Lofts has a better ending? I might just have to read it.

In the film, Joan Fontaine portrays Gwen Mayfield, a missionary school teacher who has a terrifying experience with a witch doctor in an African village. Hoping to avoid another nervous breakdown like the one she experiences in Africa, Gwen takes a job at a school in Heddaby. She visits with the school’s director, Reverend Alan Bax, and his sister, Stephanie, and soon discovers that Alan isn’t actually a reverend at all. In fact, the church where the school is located has burned down and has not been replaced. Gwen quickly becomes acquainted with the rest of the locals in Heddaby and begins her work as a teacher. She starts noticing that some of the villagers act just a bit different, some almost sinister, especially toward young Ronnie Dowsett, who has formed a close bond with a young girl in his class named Linda Rigg. Linda’s grandmother and many of the other villagers do not believe that the two youngsters should be “courting” so much and try to keep them apart.

As the film continues, strange things begin happening and old reminders of Africa start showing up in Gwen’s life. She has yet another breakdown, a brilliant twist in the film in my opinion, but eventually returns to Heddaby only to find out that a dark force is at work in the village. When the truth is revealed, Gwen learns that the locals have plans for certain people in the village and she must play a part. Does she manage to survive the terrible scheme? Watch The Witches to find out!

Promoted in the United States as The Devil’s Own (which is also the title of Loft’s book), The Witches is an amazing film, quite possibly one of Hammer’s best productions, so long as you don’t include the film’s final ten minutes in that statement. The ending is rather hysterical and won’t spoil it for you. If you haven’t seen this film I want you to get slapped in the face with the absurdity just as hard as I was while watching this film for the first time. It’s a really, really bad ending, and if just a few minor changes had been made, the film probably would have been considered a masterpiece.

The cast was great. Every single person in this film did a brilliant job. Fontaine was excellent as Gwen and Kay Walsh and Alec McCowen were excellent as the Bax siblings. Ingrid Brett does a fine job as young Linda Rigg and Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies was quite wicked as her granny. The local butcher was played with plenty of gusto by Duncan Lamont and Michele Dotrice did a great job as the sweet-on-the-surface Valerie Creek.

Cyril Frankel’s direction is great until those final minutes where complete idiocy takes control. The music by Richard Rodney Bennett is excellent as well. Arthur Grant provides perfect cinematography as he almost always does in Hammer films and the rest of the crew do fine jobs also.

I really enjoyed this film and wish that it had a better ending. I do recommend that you check it out simply because of how brilliant it is until the finale. Unfortunately a solid cast, great direction, and amazing music cannot save this film from its dismal ending.

Thanks for reading my post. It’ll be Hammer time again, tomorrow!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The Plague Of The Zombies (1966)

Influential Undead

Considered by many to be more influential than it gets credit for, 1966’s The Plague Of The Zombies predates George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead by two years. The zombies featured in Plague changed the tone of the monsters as presented in previous films and gave them a look that is still prominent to this day. Shot back to back with The Reptile (and featuring Jacqueline Pearce in both films and using many of the same sets), Plague was initially treated as a secondary film and was released with a primary film, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, on a double bill.

In the movie, Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell) and his daughter, Sylvia (Diane Clare), visit a Cornish village at the request of Dr. Peter Thompson (Brook Williams). Thompson is a former student of Forbes and his wife, Alice (Jacqueline Pearce), is a close friend of Sylvia. He cannot seem to figure out what type of plague is attacking the villagers and he asks Forbes to come to the village to help him. Forbes and Sylvia encounter unruly fox hunters when they first arrive at the village. These hunters are guests of the local squire, Clive Hamilton (John Carson), who isn’t very well liked by the locals but seems to be just a slight bit charming to Sylvia. People continue to die and Sylvia eventually encounters a zombie near a local mine. As Forbes, Thompson, and the local police sergeant, Swift (Micheal Ripper), begin to make unsettling discoveries in their investigation of the deaths, Sylvia becomes a pawn in a lethal game between Forbes and the villain of the film. It’s all played out quite well on the screen and I believe that you should check it out.

The film is superbly directed by John Gilling and the cinematography by Arthur Grant is atmospheric, creepy, and beautiful all at the same time. The music only adds to the build up of terror in the film and works especially well in a dream sequence involving the undead rising from their graves. The special effects are done very well and the look of the zombies is still influential today.

Morell channels Peter Cushing a bit in this film, delivering lines coolly and with bite when necessary. He’s one of the strongest members of this cast. Clare’s portrayal of Sylvia is also well done but she isn’t given much material to work with in the film. Brook Williams is over the top as Thompson, and the film suffers almost every time that he is called upon to show emotion. Michael Ripper, who has quickly become one of my favorite actors since I started watching these Hammer films, steals the show with his portrayal of the police sergeant. John Carson is both smooth and sadistic as Squire Hamilton. I wish that he would have been given more screen time. Jacqueline Pearce is another scene stealer in this film, with her most epic moment happening in a graveyard. The rest of the cast also did a fine job.

The film definitely has some flaws and isn’t a masterpiece as a whole, but I have to give Hammer credit for trying something new with zombies. This was the only zombie film that the company ever produced, and it is definitely better than most of the more modern takes on the genre. It’s one of the few films that I’ve watched during the Thirty-One Days O’Horror that I was captivated with for the entire running time. I believe that if you are a fan of zombie films, check this one out. If you want to see a decent horror flick in general, this is a good film to watch as well.

Thanks for reading my post. We’re just a few days away from the final post in Thirty-One Days O’Horror. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the films and posts that I’ve given to you this year. Next year is going to be a scream!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: Kiss Of The Vampire (1963)

Gaslighting Vampires

1963’s Kiss Of The Vampire takes vampirism to a different level. The film opens with a funeral service that is interrupted by a booze hound who proves to be the most brilliant man in town. That booze hound stabs his own deceased daughter in the heart and ends her reign of terror before it even begins. We are then introduced to a honeymooning couple that have car trouble on their way to their celebration destination. Luckily (or unluckily) for them, there’s a somewhat standoffish but welcoming man named Dr. Ravna who invites the couple to a party at his place while they are waiting on fuel to arrive. They also check into the local inn.

At the party the couple get swept up and separated by scheming vampires. The husband, Gerald Harcourt, begins to drink heavily and is slipped a mickey by the vampires. His new wife, Marianne, is taken to the bed chamber of Dr. Ravna and entranced by him. When Gerald awakens the next day, the family of Dr. Ravna and the innkeeper attempt to convince him that he was traveling alone the whole time. They go so far as to hide all of Marianne’s clothing and erase all other evidence of her existence. The local authorities believe that Gerald is insane and he soon finds himself alone…..until Professor Zimmer, the aforementioned drunkard, tells Gerald that he believes him and agrees to help him save Marianne and take down a growing vampire cult.

This was a fun film to watch. It was the first horror film ever directed by Don Sharp and I believe that he did a great job. Alan Hume’s cinematography was amazing. The bright colors and beautiful sets popped on the screen and the darker scenes were wonderfully designed. Professor Zimmer’s use of sorcery was a bit bonkers and the massive number of bats flying around looked hokey but they all worked well enough in the end. The idea of a vampire cult seems pretty original to me and I liked it very much.

The cast was excellent. Clifford Evans chewed his way through every scene as Zimmer. Edward de Souza and Jennifer Daniel were very believable as honeymooning newlyweds. Noel William was great as the evil Dr. Ravna and all of the vampires did fine jobs, but I want to point out Isobel Black and Barry Warren. Black portrayed Tania, who tricks poor Gerald. Warren played Carl Ravna, the doctor’s spoiled and snobby son. He stole the show in y opinion.

This was a great light horror film. You can watch this one with the entire family. It had a few fun moments early on but it was fairly serious most of the time. It’s not scary at all and there’s surprisingly very little blood when compared with other Hammer films. Give this one a look if you want something to watch on a rainy afternoon.

Thanks for reading my post. We’ve reached the homestretch and Thirty-One Days O’Horror is almost over. Let me know in the comments which films you’ve seen, which ones you like or dislike, and what films you’d like to see me review. I appreciate each and everyone of you for checking out my posts.