Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mark Of The Vampire (1935)

Starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Jean Hersholt
Directed by Tod Browning
(actor & director credits courtesy

A modern community is convinced that vampires haunt a castle whose owner has been recently murdered, and the police inspector calls in an expert on the legend to help.

A sound remake by Tod Browning of a lost silent film few have seen, London After Midnight, the movie may follow the same story, but it looks a lot like Browning's Dracula, and returns that film's star, Bela Lugosi, although he has a limited role.  Filled with creepy imagery and featuring the photography of acclaimed cinematographer James Wong Howe, it's a perfect film for Halloween-viewing with numerous scenes of skulking rodents, crawling spiders, and swooping bats, and although some of the creature effects appear obvious today, I relished them for their contribution to the film's dark mood.  Fans expecting more from Lugosi's presence may be surprised to see Carroll Borland as the chief vampire here, but her icy stare is very effective, and Howe lights her menacingly as she stalks Allan throughout the film.  We may never know if the movie is an improvement or not as good as London After Midnight, but it's certainly another memorable foray by Browning into gothic horror.

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