- The Vampire review by Count Otto Black
I've never really associated Mexico with vampires. If I was fatally allergic to sunlight it's the last place I'd want to be, except perhaps Mercury. However, according to this film, you'd be surprised how many Mexican villages have a problem with undead Hungarian noblemen rising from their graves in cloaks and tuxedos. Even the scriptwriter knows this is silly, and tries to get around it with one of those extremely specific bits of folklore movies like this often invent to justify supernatural implausibilities. But it's still silly. Though not as silly as the scenes in which the vampire transforms himself into a bat which inexplicably makes seagull noises. It doesn't help that he bears a striking resemblance to The Amazing Criswell.
This odd little film doesn't quite deserve three stars but the clumsy rating system won't let me give it two and a half. The visual quality of the print is extremely good for such an obscure old movie, and you have the options of English dubbing or the original Spanish with subtitles. Unfortunately, even in Spanish the acting ranges from entertainingly hammy, especially the two vampires, to barely adequate, apart from Abel Salazar as the hero, who is simply appalling. He's obviously trying, unsuccessfully, to channel Bob Hope's performance in "The Cat And The Canary" although that was a black comedy and this is supposed to be a serious horror film. Talking of which, I have absolutely no idea why it has an 18 certificate. One brief scene of the vampire attacking a child perhaps pushes it marginally into the 15 bracket, but otherwise it's barely even a 12.
It's not a completely dreadful film, but I can't honestly say it's good. The mist-shrouded sets are well designed and contribute more to the atmosphere than most of the cast do, it does sometimes achieve a moderate degree of creepiness, and there are even a couple of mild shocks. But it's terribly old-fashioned even for 1957, its two main influences being a 1939 Bob Hope comedy and Bela Lugosi's "Dracula" from 1931. It's hard to believe this film came out only a year before Christopher Lee made vampires truly scary again.
It's saddled with a script which completely forgets about one major subplot and often struggles to make any sense at all. Its leading man can't act, and thinks he's in a comedy even though the rest of the cast don't and the scriptwriter hasn't given him any actual jokes. It doesn't help matters that his leading lady can't act either and obviously finds him roughly as attractive as a lump of cold sick. And it could do with a bit less footage of people standing around trying to arrive at screamingly obvious conclusions the audience figured out half an hour ago, and a bit more actual horror. Still, if you're curious to see what a Mexican vampire movie is like, it's worth a look. And the bats doing seagull impressions are hilarious. Though you may be disappointed by the lack of masked wrestlers.
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