The Vampire (1957)

May 21, 2011

Gramercy Pictures (Gardner and Levy) produced four horror/science fiction pictures in 57-58 with The Vampire being their first effort. The film is part vampire, werewolf and Jekyll/Hyde  as it tells the story of Dr. Paul Beecher (John Beal), anytown USA family doctor, who quite by accident ingests a control serum pill made from the blood of vampire bats. It turns him into this hideous creature who craves blood and begins killing off the town one by one. Apparently the serum causes capillary disintegration and the vampire bat was immune to the effects.  John Beal was given a rare top billing in this fairly low budget film and gave a believable performance as the Jekyll-Hyde doctor. Co-starring were Coleen Gray as Beecher’s receptionist Carol and Kenneth Tobey as Buck the sheriff. Gray who had a long successful career as a television actress gave a believable performance but Tobey was his typical wooden self and actually took away from the film. Beecher’s daughter played by Lydia Reed grated on my nerves. James Griffith as the scientist who always wore the sunglasses was excellent in the creepy role he played. The special effects while not on par with The Wolfman (1941)  were scary enough and the makeup of Beal had enough shock value to frighten many a viewer. I found this horror flick to be one of the better entries in the MGM Midnight Movies series and an entertaining watch. It revisited territory that had already been covered in prior films but the concept was possible without major glaring holes. The Gerald Fried soundtrack available from Film Score Monthly (FSMCD Vol. 1 No. 4) was a creepy one that enhanced scenes as it should have very effectively.

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