The Vampire (1957 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Landres|
|Produced by||Arthur Gardner
Jules V. Levy
|Written by||Pat Fielder|
|Music by||Gerald Fried|
|Edited by||John Faure|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
The Vampire (also known as Mark of the Vampire) is a black-and-white 1957 American horror film produced by Arthur Gardner and Jules V. Levy, directed by Paul Landres, and starring John Beal and Colleen Gray. Like 1956's The Werewolf, it offered a science fiction take on a traditionally supernatural creature, although the films were produced by different production companies.
The film was released theatrically in San Francisco on a double bill with The Monster That Challenged the World, but it did not receive a theatrical run aside from this. It should be noted that The Vampire, due to the use of its alternative title, is now often confused in references with the 1935 Mark of the Vampire starring Bela Lugosi.
The late Dr. Campbell was experimenting with vampire bat blood just before his death. Colleague Paul Beecher (Beal) finds a bottle of pills among Dr. Campbell's effects and takes them home. Dr. Beecher's daughter, Betsy (Lydia Reed), accidentally substitutes the vampire blood pills for her father's migraine tablets. As a result, the kindly Dr. Beecher starts having blackouts from the pills.
During a consultation with patient Marion Wilkins (Ann Staunton), Paul feels unwell and asks her to return the next day. The following morning, he receives a phone call notifying him that Marion has gotten progressively ill. When he goes to visit her, he finds her terrified by his presence, and she dies suddenly. On her neck, Paul finds two puncture wounds.
Worried about his recent blackouts, Paul returns to Campbell's lab where he speaks with his colleague, Will Beaumont (Dabbs Greer). Will tells Paul that Dr. Campbell's research involved regressing animals’ minds to a primitive state, then reversing and advancing the process. The next morning, Henry (James Griffith) is mysteriously found dead with the same puncture wounds and inexplicable disintegration of the tissue on his neck. Later, Paul is called to the hospital to perform an emergency surgery, but is unable to focus and has to leave the operating room.
When Paul realizes he is responsible for the series of local murders—which he has been committing during his blackouts—he arranges for Betsy to stay with an aunt for her own safety. Paul again confronts Will about the pills, but Will assumes Paul is in a delusional state. He agrees to stay with Paul to calm him, and locks the bottle of pills in a drawer. During the night, Will witnesses Paul's transformation into a vampire; Paul then murders Will, disposing of his body in a furnace.
The following day, Sheriff Buck Donnelly (Kenneth Tobey)—suspicious that Will may be engaging in human experiments—goes to question him. At the lab, Buck finds an audio recorder that contains a recording of Will's murder. Meanwhile, Paul's nurse, Carol Butler (Gray), is opening his office when she is confronted by Paul, who urges her to go home. Before leaving, she notices a vial of poison, and realizes Paul may be planning to commit suicide. Before she is able to leave, she witnesses Paul transform into the vampire. Buck arrives shortly after, and witnesses Carol fleeing with Paul in pursuit. She runs into a meadow where she is attacked by Paul, but Buck follows behind and manages to shoot Paul to death. After he dies, his monstrous body reverts to its normal appearance.
- John Beal as Dr. Paul Beecher
- Coleen Gray as Carol Butler
- Kenneth Tobey as Sheriff Buck Donnelly
- Lydia Reed as Betsy Beecher
- Dabbs Greer as Dr. Will Beaumont
- Herb Vigran as George Ryan
- Paul Brinegar as Willy Warner
- Ann Staunton as Marion Wilkins
- James Griffith as Henry Winston
Tom Weaver of Fangoria said The Vampire was "one of the best independent horror films of the 1950s". In a retrospective assessment of the film, Nathaniel Thompson of Turner Classic Movies praised the film's "atmospheric" musical score and its blending of genres: "Taking a cue from Blood of Dracula, The Vampire minimizes the risk of bringing back an still out-of-vogue monster by introducing elements of science fiction, a far more popular genre on movie screens at the time". Michael Toole and Jeff Stafford, also of TCM, praised the film, noting: "Unfairly lumped with other grade-B horror flicks from its era, The Vampire (1957) actually deserves some credit for adding a new spin - pill addiction - to this overexposed horror genre and placing the story in a contemporary setting". Film critic Leonard Maltin gave the movie 2 stars out of 4, noting that it had some merit and singling out Beal's performance for praise.
The Vampire was released on DVD in 2007 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a double feature paired with The Return of Dracula. In 2016, Scream Factory announced they were releasing the film on Blu-ray for the first time on April 11, 2017.
- Flynn 1992, p. 78.
- Leonard Maltin, "The Vampire", Cinemania, 1996.
- Heffernan 2004, p. 231.
- "The Vampire". American Film Institute (AFI). Retrieved December 28, 2016.
- Per the catalogue entry at the American Film Institute, shooting began December 10, 1956; as quoted in Toole and Stafford of Turner Classic Movies, the film was shot in a mere six days, which means the shoot concluded on December 16.
- McLellan, Dennis (December 29, 2001). "Paul Landres, 89; Film Editor Later Directed B Movies and TV Series". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- Thompson, Nathaniel; Toole, Michael T.; Stafford, Jeff. "The Vampire". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
- Karlosi, Joe. "The Return of Dracula/The Vampire". DVD Drive-In. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
- "The Vampire". Shout! Factory. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
- Flynn, John L. (1992). Cinematic Vampires: The Living Dead on Film and Television, from the Devil's Castle (1896 to Bram Stroker's Dracula). McFarland. ISBN 978-0-899-50659-3.
- Heffernan, Kevin (2004). Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, 1953–1968. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-822-33215-2. Abstract available at Project MUSE.