Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cave of the Living Dead, a Neat German Vampire Story

1965's "Cave of the Living Dead" (aka "Night of the Vampires") is a chilling vampire story from, at the time, West Germany.  This movie is shot in black and white and will remind the viewer of the silent classic "Nosferatu." Though not very original, the camera work, and the jazzy musical score make this a very effective film.  An ominous old castle, spooky caves, shadowy streets, hounds howling in the distance, and plenty of vampires keep us on edge.
The plot:  In a quaint, but superstitious village, seven attractive young women have died.  The deaths occur between midnight and one a.m., and always during a power outage.  The small town doctor classifies each death as "heart failure" ( kidding).  Inspector Frank Dorin (Adrian Hoven) is sent to the town from the big city to get to the bottom of things.  He immediately meets Karin (Karin Field), the beautiful and statuesque assistant of the mysterious professor.  She was hired by this professor to research blood at the professor's castle at the edge of town.  During their first meeting, the power goes out and a beautiful barmaid (Erika Remberg) is turned into a vampire in her sleep (see picture below).
After getting nowhere with the local constabulary, or the town doctor, the Inspector visits the town witch who tells him of vampires, and equips him with weapons to battle these bloodsuckers.  Frank learns that the caves at the edge of town also lead to the professor's castle.  He accepts an invite to stay at the castle which allows him to romance Karin, and investigate his strange host, who arrived in town the same time the girls started assuming room temperature.  At this same time, the barmaid rises from the dead and starts prowling around while sporting some new fangs.  Unfortunately for Karin, she gets suspicious of her employer and now the barmaid (under the professor's spell) is seeking out her neck.
Will Frank be able to save Karin from the toothy barmaid?  How will Frank explain all these supernatural occurrences to his efficient, German bosses in the big city?  Is this movie an attempt to showcase a post-war metaphor of the evils that await a split Germany?  Okay, that last question is only designed to make me seem intelligent....sorry.  This is a creepy and atmospheric tale, and even contains some surprising nudity.  Karin Field does a great job portraying the beautiful, but intelligent damsel in eventual distress. Though Hammer was creating lots of vampire movies during the 1960s, "Cave of the Living Dead" has more of a silent movie feel to it.  See this movie, and don't sleep with the window open.

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