Mark of the Vampire
|Mark of the Vampire|
|Directed by||Tod Browning|
|Written by||Guy Endore
|Release dates||26 April 1935|
|Running time||80 minutes
60 minutes (re-release version)
Mark of the Vampire (also known as Vampires of Prague) is a 1935 horror film, starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, and Jean Hersholt and directed by Tod Browning. It is a talkie remake of Browning's 1927 silent London After Midnight with the characters' names and some circumstances changed.
Mark of the Vampire was originally 75 minutes, but was cut back to 61 minutes by MGM. Reportedly this was due to incestuous overtones – then unacceptable by the standards of the Production Code – between Count Mora (played by Lugosi) and his daughter Luna. In the original script, it is explained that Count Mora was condemned to eternity as a vampire for this crime. The now-mysterious blood on the right temple is the result of him shooting himself out of guilt. 
However, the audio commentary on the DVD makes no mention of the incest back-story but suggests that much of what was cut was comic material, particularly surrounding the maid.
- Lionel Barrymore as Professor Zelen
- Elizabeth Allan as Irena Borotyn
- Bela Lugosi as Count Mora
- Lionel Atwill as Inspector Neumann
- Jean Hersholt as Baron Otto von Zinden
- Henry Wadsworth as Fedor Vincente
- Donald Meek as Dr. J. Doskil
- Ivan F. Simpson as Jan
- Carroll Borland as Luna
- Franklyn Ardell as Chauffeur
- Leila Bennett as Maria
- June Gittelson as Annie
- Holmes Herbert as Sir Karell Borotyn
- Michael Visaroff as Innkeeper
- James Bradbury, Jr. as Third Vampire
- Egon Brecher as Coroner
- Jessie Ralph as Midwife (scenes deleted)
Sir Karell Borotyn (Holmes Herbert) is found murdered in his own house, with two tiny pinpoint wounds on his neck. The attending doctor Dr. Doskil (Donald Meek) and Sir Karell's friend Baron Otto (Jean Hersholt) are convinced that responsible for the murder is a vampire, specifically Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (Carroll Borland), while the Prague police inspector (Lionel Atwill) refuses to believe. Now his daughter Irena (Elizabeth Allan) is the count’s next target. Enter Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore), an expert on vampires and the occult, who’s sent in to prevent her death. At the same time, secrets are revealed surrounding the circumstances of Sir Karell’s death.
The merit of this film is still debated among horror movie fans due to the ending, which reveals that the vampires were in reality actors hired to help trap a murderer. While films of the previous decade commonly revealed the supernatural threat to be fake—such as The Cat and the Canary or The Gorilla -- the arrival of such films as Dracula and Frankenstein in the thirties saw horror films become more fantastic. This is perhaps why some see the ending as a cop-out and Bela Lugosi reportedly found the idea absurd (then again, the film is a semi-remake of Browning's London After Midnight in which Lon Chaney played a vampire who turned out to be a detective in disguise, so it couldn't have been that unexpected). Many viewers see the film as a satire on the conventions of the horror film.
- Hollywood Horror: From Gothic to Cosmic by Mark A. Viera, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2003.
- Internet Movie Database (IMDb) reviews of Mark of the Vampire".