A pretty young Mexican girl returns to her hometown to make funeral arrangements for her beloved aunt, who has just died. Soon she begins to hear disturbing stories about the town being ...
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Pier Paolo Capponi
A pretty young Mexican girl returns to her hometown to make funeral arrangements for her beloved aunt, who has just died. Soon she begins to hear disturbing stories about the town being infested by vampires, and she eventually begins to suspect that her remaining aunt and the mysterious next=door neighbor may be involved. Written by
I had heard a lot about this Mexican horror classic and cult film by Fernando Méndez: that it was a remarkable B&W production, that it established the vampire genre in México, that it was the first movie in which the vampire had fangs and most of all- that it was intentionally funny in parts. I had seen its sequel, "El ataúd del vampiro" (The Vampire's Coffin) when I was 8 years old, of which I have a vague memory. Now, after 47 years of its release, I've finally seen "El vampiro" and to my surprise it is better than what I expected. Producer Abel Salazar knew what he was getting into as probably did Luis Buñuel when he made "Abismos de pasión", adapting Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights"- and decided not only to approach the tale of an Hungarian vampire in México with humor, but to play the leading part of the doctor with comic touches, as a cynic and fearful hero. Beautiful Ariadne Welter (Tyrone Power's once sister-in-law, sometimes credited as Ariadna) is the young heroine who returns to her family hacienda in Sierra Negra (Black Sierra) and meets Salazar on her way, while they are followed by her aunt (Cuban soap opera superstar Carmen Montejo), a spinster under the spell of Count Duval (Germán Robles), the local vampire. The initial situation reminded me of the Hammer Films production "Kiss of the Vampire", which was made a few years later: a young woman being observed and chosen to be part of the undead, though in this case the open setting is darker and in obvious decay. What was surprising to me was the plot's twists, which seem quite original for its time and probably not yet equaled, mainly the introduction of a woman buried alive (Alicia Montoya) whose appearance predates Myrna Fahey in Roger Corman's "The Fall of the House of Usher"- who protects the heroine and has a decidedly active part in the conclusion. Although screenwriter Ramón Obón takes many elements from Bram Stoker's classic novel, he introduces clever touches, immensely helped by Rosalío Solano's cinematography, Gustavo César Carrión's eerie score and Méndez' firm direction. As a research, it's also interesting to see another movie by Méndez, "Ladrón de cadáveres", which paved the way for a unique Mexican cross of genres: the wrestler and horror films.
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