Blood of The Vampire (1958)

Here’s a well-done Hammer-styled “cash-in” of Horror of Dracula, interestingly enough done by a US production company and released by Universal (Universal-International in those days), which of course was the company that did all those great classic horror films that Hammer eventually updated with great success.

It is too bad that this film has been so neglected that it cannot be seen except on worn-out and ridiculously expensive factory VHS tapes that are rare, or on DVD duplicates made off of faded 16mm film prints. I saw this 30 years ago on TV from a good 35mm print and remember that the colors were great, but the recent 16mm dupe I saw was really faded. Still, increase the TV color saturation, and it’s way better than nothing at all. (UPDATE: I thought I’d better update this now that a factory DVD has been recently released. No longer do you have to pay way too much to see this.)

The few occasional lapses in logic notwithstanding, this is bound to please any fan of the early Hammer horror films, and Donald Wolfit does a great turn as the doctor who has become a sort of living vampire. Though there are no real supernatural elements, this film tops many others without having to rely upon the fantastic to carry it. A fabulous beginning title sequence is followed by a great scene where the vampire-doctor is revived, with his misshapen servant beside him, and then a large bat flies out from the ceiling rafters. You would swear it was an actual bat, and then wonder how did they get it to do it just right?

As an example of the attention to detail you’ll see here: during a conversation between two prisoners, a rat scurries behind one unnoticed and for no other reason than to show that the place is a squalid jail cell. Nobody sees it, yells or stomps on it, or anything you’d expect to happen in another film. It’s just there and passes by. Now that’s real set design!