After Sir Karell Borotin is found dead in his study, drained of his blood, the local doctor determines that he was killed by a vampire. The coroner and police Inspector Neumann dismiss the suggestion but a year later, Sir Karell's daughter is attacked and bite marks are found on her throat. Neumann calls in the eminent Professor Zelin who thinks the story of vampires is true. The locals are convinced that Count Mora and his daughter Luna are the perpetrators of the crime, creatures of the night that can turn themselves into bats. There may be another solution however and the Professor sets a trap. Written by
Tod Browning easily is one of the most important directors who ever lived. Sure, he might not enjoy the same post-mortem status as a Stanley Kubrick or a Alfred Hitchcock but he single-handedly was responsible for some of the most important and genre-forming horror films. In a period of barely 5 years he brought us: Dracula (the mother of all vampire-movies and THE film that made Bela Lugosi immortal), Freaks (still amazingly scary after more than 70 years), this Mark of the Vampire and Devil Doll in 1936.
This film more or less is the first accomplishment that `plays' with the rules of the genre and creatively adds some very ingenious twists. A prominent citizen of a small community is killed and the superstitious population are convinced that the bizarre, vicious Count Mora is responsible for this act of terror. Count Mora and his freaky daughter Luna are believed to be vampires and the village's curse. Since the victim's beautiful daughter obviously is the next target, professor Zelin sets a trap the bloodthirsty killer red-handed. Mark of the Vampire is an eccentric horror effort and definitely ahead of its time! The opening sequences are atmospherically frightening and the nightly noises still have the ability to scare you. The illogical but extremely dared twists near the end easily guarantee this film an honored spot in the horror annals. Please see it for yourself and you'll agree that this film is tough to review! Personally, I thought Lionel Barrymore overacts terribly .then again, the development of the film provides him with an excuse for this! I am certain about one thing, though! Bela Lugosi gives away an outstanding performance. Naturally, his role here is overshadowed by his starring in Dracula but I dare to say he's equally chilling here. Lugosi almost has no lines to say, but his grimaces speak for themselves. Check it out!!
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