Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Blood of the Vampire, Mad Scientists and Vampires

Yesterday's mad scientist is today's genius. Alas, this film takes place yesterday...or 1880 to be precise. We may pat ourselves on our backs for reviving road kill in our basement laboratories, but a hundred years ago, society would have frowned on these efforts. The prudish outlook of polite society didn't want corpses dug up from graveyards and dead relatives to be re-animated.  Today we make sitcoms about that stuff. Oh, how far we've come. 1958's "Blood of the Vampire" is a horror tale about a more draconian era.
The roaring 1880s
As our story begins it is 1874 Transylvania. An executioner hammers a spike through a vampire in the cemetery. Uh oh, a ghoul, Carl (Victor Maddern) kills the gravedigger and absconds with the vampire.  He brings the carcass to a mad scientist who revives it using a transplanted human heart. Carl then kills the mad scientist. Six years later, the dashing Dr. John Pierre (Vincent Ball) is sentenced to life for performing abominable practices in his medical profession. Pierre, before anyone knew anything about blood, performed blood transfusions in order to save lives.  His sultry fiance, Madeleine (Barbara Shelley) is helpless to save him in the courtroom. Uh oh, again, Dr. Callistratus (Donald Wolfit) arranges for Pierre to be sentenced to the criminal insane asylum he runs. Callistratus desires to tap into Pierre's knowledge of blood to further his own experiments.
Dr. Callistratus and Carl
Pierre is hesitant to help his mad scientist warden, but the food is better if he does. It seems Callistratus has a blood disorder which requires constant transfusions. Guess where our mad scientist gets his donors.  As patients at the asylum disappear, and corpses are dug up from the institution's graveyard, Pierre plugs along with his research.  But wait! It appears that the bureau of prisons has rescinded Pierre's sentence. Not wanting to lose his top scientist, Callistratus advises them Pierre died while trying to escape. Unable to accept the death of her handsome fiance, Madeleine masquerades as a housekeeper and gets a job at the asylum in order to figure out the true fate of her beau. Soon, Madeleine will be found out and Callistratus will chain her up and attempt to drain her blood.
Housekeeper's demise
Can Pierre save Madeleine from a fate worse than death? What connection does Callistratus have with that vampire from six years previous? Would modern society view Callistratus as a pioneer in affordable healthcare?  "Blood of the Vampire" will have a shocking ending in which everything is tied together. Creepy graveyards, ghouls, mad scientists, elaborate sub-basement laboratories, and a beautiful damsel highlight this vampire film that many may mistake as a Hammer Studio product.


  1. Such a great review and DAMN I DIG this one!!!

  2. Good review, Christopher. This sounds like a truly weird film. They don't make mad scientist flicks anymore. Actually, sometimes these films can be more frightening than slashers.

  3. Nice review Christopher, I've heard of this one but knew nothing about it and in fact am shamefully ignorant on most horror films pre 1960s, so really need to rectify this. Thanks for the heads up on it. :)

  4. This one sounds like it has a rich plot, oh my!