BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE (1958). Director: Henry Cass.
Donald Wolfit plays an unusual kind of vampire, Dr. Callistratus, in this interesting variation on a theme. Although mistaken for a traditional vampire a la Dracula, Wolfit actually has a rare blood disease and needs frequent transfusions, making him seem demonic to the superstitious townspeople. After being dispatched via a stake through the heart, he is brought back to life by a heart transplant (not being an actual vampire, simply removing the stake won’t do the trick – the damaged heart has to be replaced). A few years later he’s the head of a prison for the criminally insane. One of the prisoners is a doctor (Vincent Ball) who’s been framed for killing a patient, and Wolfit has him help him with his experiments -- hiding from him the more dastardly stuff going on in the cellar. The doctor tries to escape to disastrous results, his girlfriend (Barbara Shelley) gets a job as a maid in the asylum, and Wolfit tries to drain the latter’s blood as his love-sick (for Shelley) hunchback helper Carl (Victor Maddern) looks on in horror and ultimately gets his revenge. Wolfit is fine and the other performances perfectly credible in a "vampire" movie with perhaps a more interesting plot than usual. Wolfit’s large, upraised eyebrows seem to have a life of their own. Absorbing and fast-paced, if directed by Cass with no special flair. Written by the prolific Jimmy Sangster.
Verdict: Good old horror film. ***.