Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, February 11, 2008

THE VAMPIRE


THE VAMPIRE (1957). Directed by Paul Landres.

A small town doctor (John Beal) with a young daughter accidentally ingests some pills created by a dead scientist and reverts into a strange creature that attacks and kills several neighbors. Although he leaves two bite marks on the neck, he is not a vampire in the usual sense, but causes capillary breakdown or something along those lines which causes the bodies of the victims to eventually disintegrate. With its nice-guy-turns-into-tormented-monster theme, the film is along the lines of Neanderthal Man and Monster on the Campus. There’s a skeleton with eyeballs intact that pre-dates a similar bit in 1959's Caltiki. The make up is a little too comical at times, but otherwise effective. The performances from Kenneth Tobey as a cop and Coleen Gray as a nurse-receptionist are solid, but the stand-out is John Beal, who gives a very good and sensitive performance as the haunted, horrified (and horrifying) doctor. The always reliable Dabbs Greer is also good as a colleague – and late victim – of Beal’s. Pretty standard and without much style or atmosphere, but it holds the attention and has several exciting sequences. Gerald Fried's musical score is a plus.
Verdict: Worth a look. **1/2.

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