Mark of the Vampire
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|Mark of the Vampire|
|Directed by||Tod Browning|
|Written by||Guy Endore
|26 April 1935|
|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 silent London After Midnight (1927), with the characters' names and some circumstances changed.
- 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 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 he was killed by a vampire. They suspect Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (Carroll Borland), while the Prague police inspector (Lionel Atwill) refuses to believe them.
Borotyn's daughter Irena (Elizabeth Allan) is the count’s next target. Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore), an expert on vampires and the occult, arrives in order to prevent her death. At the same time, secrets are revealed surrounding the circumstances of Sir Karell’s death.
According to the audio commentary on the DVD, the film was originally released at 75 minutes by the director, but was cut back to 61 minutes by MGM. The commentary says that comic material related to the maid was cut.
Critic Mark Viera wrote that MGM cut out suggestions of incest between Count Mora (played by Lugosi) and his daughter Luna. This was an unacceptable topic according to the standards of the Production Code. The original screenplay explained that Count Mora was condemned to eternity as a vampire for this crime. He shot himself out of guilt. After the cuts, the film shows him with unexplained blood on his right temple.
The merit of this film is still debated among horror movie fans due to the ending, which reveals that the vampires were 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—such films as Dracula and Frankenstein in the thirties featured horror films deeply based in the fantastic. Some viewers thought that the ending compromised the film; Bela Lugosi reportedly found the idea absurd. (In the original London After Midnight, Lon Chaney played a vampire who turned out to be a detective in disguise.) Many viewers[who?] consider the film to be a satire of the conventions of the horror film.
- Mark A. Viera, Hollywood Horror: From Gothic to Cosmic, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2003