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The Vampire [Blu-ray]
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The patients are sick… but the doctor is a real sicko! When a small-town physician (John Beal) accidentally swallows experimental bat serum pills, hes soon up to his Hippocratic Oath in blood-thirsty desire! Transformed into an undead fiend, the doctor finds himself sucked into a dark and sinister world: where he must save patients by day… and suck their blood by night!
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Top customer reviews
Even though the title of this movie is 'The Vampire' it is mostly a science fiction movie. It is not anything like "Horror of Dracula" that was released in the late 50's also. So this will appeal to fans of 1950's science fiction. Most vampire movies are fantasies, this is mostly science fiction. Even though it was a low budget movie it is actually quite good.
I'm giving this release a 4 star rating. Most people who are reading this review will have already seen the movie and will be interested in the picture quality of the blu-ray and the extra's.
If you haven't seen it, my guess is that you are fan of vampire movies. If so, be aware that this is not a traditional vampire movie.
In reality, this bears a great similarity to 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.'
BLU-RAY: The blu-ray transfer is quite good. There are not a lot of imperfections. There are a few spots where the picture gets blurry but it's not that often. Of course that is probably due to either the age of the film or the way it was shot. Overall, I was quite happy with the picture. If you are a fan of 1950's science fiction and you want to upgrade then go ahead if you don't mind the price.
EXTRA'S: Not a lot here. What you do get is a trailer. No commentary track. If you count them as extra's, you get scene selections and subtitles in English.
Like pretty much all movies, this could have used a commentary track.
PLOT/SUMMARY: ***SPOILERS IN THIS SECTION***) At the open of the movie we have a boy making a delivery to a scientist. When he goes inside, the very sick scientist tells him to go get the doctor. Dr. Paul Beecher(John Beal) is a small town doctor who has an office in his home, lives with his daughter and still does house calls. Beecher arrives at the scientist's laboratory just as the scientist is about to die. The scientist hands him a bottle of pills and tells them how important they are. When Dr. Beecher goes home he has a headache and tells his daughter to fetch his pills from his jacket. Unfortunately she gives him the bottle that was given to him by the scientist. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Beecher, not feeling well lies down in his office.
The next morning he makes a house call at a patient and the patient appears to be frightened of him and she dies. He notices two puncture wounds on her neck.
An old classmate of Dr. Beecher, Dr. Will Beaumont comes to the lab with a mysterious looking Henry Winston. Beaumont tells Beecher that Winston will be taking over the lab. We also learn that the research being done there involves regressing animals' minds to a primitive state. The first thing they notice is that all of the bats are alive and all the other laboratory animals are dead despite the fact that they were all alive the previous day. It doesn't take long for Winston to figure out that they have died of 'capillary disintegration.' Once one of the mysterious pills have been taken then they animal must continue to take them or die. That evening, Winston is attacked and killed by a transformed Dr. Beecher. Dr. Beecher, not realizing that he is the killer yet, notices the puncture wounds on the neck and tells Sheriff Donnelly (Kenneth Tobey.)
The next night Beecher gets called away to an emergency meeting while he is out to dinner with his assistant. He finishes the operation and runs out, transforms, and kills a local lady who is walking her dog.
Beecher tells Will Beaumont (Dabbs Greer) that he is the killer and gives him the pills to hold. Beaumont does not believe him and thinks he is delusional. Shortly, Beecher transforms and kills Beaumont. He then stuffs him in the furnace. Sheriff Donnelly comes by the office and hears the murder taking place on a tape recorder that was recording at the time of the attack. He leaves to find Beecher.
Beecher is at home about to commit suicide via lethal injection when his assistant walks in. She stops him and Beecher transforms. He attacks her and she runs away. Beecher (as the vampire) chases after her. Sherriff Donnelly arrives with his assistant and hear screaming. Donnelly chases after Beecher outside. Beecher attacks Donnelly from a hiding place. A struggle ensues and the deputy comes along just in time to save Donnelly and shoots Beecher twice. Beecher falls down, transforms back to his human state and dies.
PRODUCTION: This movie is also known as "Mark of the Vampire." Not to be confused with the 1930's version.
The movie was shot in Los Angeles. Most of the scenes take place in a house/doctor's office and a laboratory with a few scenes in the streets outside each location and a few running around in the nearby woods.
The budget was small, just over $100,000. It was made by Gramercy Productions for United Artists.
The film also stars Kenneth Tobey, the star of the science fiction classic 'Thing From Another World' and 'It Came from Beneath the Sea.'
The movie also stars Coleen Gray from Stanley Kubrick's 'The Killing' and long time veteran actor Dabbs Greer, best remembered from 'The Little House on the Prairie' television series.
The director...I feel is above average for a science fiction director...was Paul Landres. He also directed other sci-fi movies including 'The Return of Dracula' and 'The Flame Barrier.'
THOUGHTS(***SPOILERS IN THIS SECTION***): I think this is a very good movie and it's reflected in my rating.
As I've already said, this movie bears a much greater resemblance to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde than it does to Dracula and vampire movies in general.
I thought the acting was good by everyone except the main character, Dr. Paul Beecher, John Beal. I thought the direction was quite good also.
I was a bit confused about how the pills worked. They made a point of saying that they must be continuously taken or the patient(animal) will die. Dr. Beecher turns into a 'vampire' after taking the pills and then makes sure he takes them within twenty four hours the next few days. Each time he turns into a vampire after twenty four hours. The last day, he doesn't take the pill and still turns into a vampire and doesn't die. Of course he is killed shortly thereafter. So that part kind of confused me. The pills didn't seem to matter. They made it appear more as if Beecher was a drug addict. I'm not sure if they fully developed that part of the script or if this was supposed to be some sort of 'don't do drugs' message. They also made a point of calling the pills a 'control' that must be taken once they have been taken once. They suggest that they were derived from Vampire Bats. That is why the bats didn't die. We were never told if the animals exhibited the same type of 'vampire' symptoms so I'm not sure if Beecher is the only living thing effected this way.
I liked the way they changed the traditional vampire and gave the character a scientific basis. I always prefer this method, even if the science is poor, as opposed to pure fantasy. In reality, the vampire was more of a monster than vampire. He does not actually kill his victims by sucking out all of their blood. He kills them by passing on a disease (albeit by biting their necks in the traditional 'vampire' way.)
Kenneth Tobey was very good as Sheriff Buck Donnelly as he is in all his movies.
An interesting character that was not developed was Henry Winston played by James Griffith. I felt that he was easily the most interesting character. I wonder if originally they had planned for him to play more of a role and changed the script. They seemed to go through the trouble of making him appear to be very mysterious and some sort of quiet genius. Then suddenly he was killed. Therefore there seemed to be no purpose in developing his character the way they did. I thought he might have something to do with figuring out that Dr. Beecher was the vampire, either that or assisting him in some way. But it was not be.
Ultimately, this movie is like a Shakespearean tragedy. I was hoping to see Dr. Beecher cured but he ends up leaving his daughter an orphan. While the monster pretty much always dies in this time period, generally, 50's movies have a bit of a happier ending.
RECOMMENDATIONS/CONCLUSIONS: I'm giving this movie 4 stars for the movie (taking into account the budget), 4 stars for the picture quality, 1 1/2 stars for the extra's (which are minimal).
Overall I'm giving it 4 stars based on it being a good movie with a good print but a bit pricey for what you get for a short movie. I would give it 5 stars if it had been priced at $9.99 or had included better extra's such as a commentary track or documentary.
Recommended for all 1950's science fiction fans who want the best available picture for the movies. This is as good as it gets for this one (at least until a newer, cheaper technology is developed.)
Also for vampire movie completist's.
Finally, for fans of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Thanks to Shout Factory for making this science fiction classic available on Blu-Ray.
I was 10 years old when I saw it in the theater, on the big screen, and let me tell you -- it scared the daylights out of me. Now, 50+ years later, and after not having seen it all those years, it still strikes a chord in me. I'm a huge fan of the horror & sci-fi genre, particularly films of the 50's, and I stream, buy or rent all that I need to see again. It took me all those years to find this one, and I bought it. It's everything I remembered.
John Beale's acting is quite good, and Kenneth Tobey (the perennial horror sci-fi staple) is great as the unbelieving cop. It's not about special effects, although the transformation scenes are well-done. It's really about mystery and dark-of-night horror.
It's one of the best movies of its type ever made.