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Six mysterious deaths of women aged between 18 and 22 years occur over the course of six months in a small, European village. Inspector Frank Dorin (Hoven) is sent to investigate. Thought by some to be murders, Dorin is informed by the village doctor (Mohner) that all of the deaths were natural. It seems that each seemingly healthy young woman died of heart failure. Many local residents believe vampires are responsible. A seventh death occurs in the inn in which Inspector Dorin is staying the first night he is in the village. Legend has it that two hundred years ago, a curse forced the vampires to take up residence in a well known grotto in the area. They are said to emerge at midnight every night, but can remain at large for only one hour minus one minute. Inspector Dorin must determine the true cause of the series of deaths before they become a public scandal and before more people perish. In many ways, this is a fairly traditional vampire film with a bit of humor tossed in. Fans of the genre should probably give this one a chance. It was filmed in black and white which many will find adds to its atmosphere. Actor Adrian Hoven who played the inspector is better known for his part in the making of "Mark of the Devil" (1970).
In practically every vampire movie that I've seen, and they're quite
numerous, the plot attempts to add a strange characteristic or gimmick
to the myth of vampires. Usually these are very common things that are
closely connected with the traditional characteristics (garlic,
) but some movies truly exaggerate and come up
with the downright craziest things. In this West German/Yugoslavian
goth-horror production "Cave of the Living Dead", for example, the
vampire attacks are accompanied by the loss of electric power! That's
actually how the police knows there has been another murder. How do you
explain that? I really don't see the connection between sucking the
blood of a virgin and causing the lights to blackout.
Apart from this curious little anecdote, "Cave of the Living Dead" is actually a rather decent and entertaining early 60's Gothic horror movie that can easily compete with the better Italian and Spanish efforts from that era. The story and execution are very straightforward, but there are more than a handful of memorably suspenseful highlights, a good cast of characters and a beautiful homage to the greatest German silent horror movie ever made; Nosferatu. The film stars Adrian Hoven, who might be better known amongst horror fanatics as the director/producer of films "Castle of the Creeping Flesh" and the notorious "Mark of the Devil" movies. Hoven is terrific as the slick Interpol inspector (and bona fide cool guy) Frank Dorin, assigned to solve a series of strange and horrifying murders in a remote German village. During the past six months, seven beautiful young girls aged between eighteen and twenty-two years old have been found dead, and the only explanation the local doctor can come up with is heart failure. The petrified and superstitious villagers believe in vampires, and they're right of course. You don't need to be a very intelligent inspector to figure out the first murders coincided with the arrival of the mysterious Professor Von Adelsberg. The professor is allegedly occupied with his experiments all day long and his castle is build on a giant cave full of bats and coffins. Hmm, I wonder who's the vampire in this town "Cave of the Living Dead" is quite fun to watch, especially to spot all the clichés and stereotypes, like village witch and the hysterical black guy. The atmosphere is often unsettling and most of the filming locations, like the titular cave and the well, are outstanding. The film is fairly explicit for its time and there's even some enticing nudity I totally didn't expect to see.
This is a German/Yugoslavian production distributed by Richard Gordon
in the U.S. and released as a double-bill with the Italian TOMB OF
TORTURE (1963), which I watched recently and was disappointed by.
Though issued separately on R1 DVD (albeit both through Image as part
of their "The Euro Shock Collection"), they were reviewed in tandem by
the "DVD Drive-In" where it was reported that TOMB was the better
effort which, therefore, meant that I went into CAVE with virtually no
expectations whatsoever (except for the Expressionist touches which
were singled out for praise in the assessment)!
In any case, having last watched THE VAMPIRE HAPPENING (1971) which saw the involvement of two crew members from SUCCUBUS (1967) I opted to check out CAVE soon after, since it starred one of the actors (Adrian Hoven) from that same superior Jess Franco picture! Having mentioned bloodsuckers just now, the film under review is also known as NIGHT OF THE VAMPIRES a title far more appropriate than the one it got stuck with, given that "The Living Dead" are generally associated with Zombies! At the very least, it should have been dubbed "Cave Of The Undead" (in view of the fact that a grotto plays a major part in the narrative)...
Now, after this lengthy intro, let us get to the matter at hand: those NOSFERATU (1922)-like nightly prowlings are indeed creepily effective and, undeniably, the best thing about the film but it must be pointed out that the whole is a lot worthier than the goofy TOMB OF TORTURE! Hoven is a crack Police Inspector (whose womanizing ways and quick action tactics, as was pointed out by the review I mentioned earlier, seem to be patterned after the "Euro-Spy" fad which emerged in the wake of the James Bond extravaganzas!) assigned to investigate a series of female deaths on a remote island that have occurred over a period of six months and always during an electricity black-out. To be honest, the latter is as much a throwaway oddity (ditto for the presence of a hulking deaf-mute) as the underground resting-place of the chief bloodsucker!
Guessing the latter's identity proves to be child's play, but nobody seems to connect the start of the attacks with the arrival on the island of this particular character; that said, the local cops are depicted as buffoons, which is exactly why Hoven was sent for! Even so, while it is clearly stated that the 'plague' already numbered seven victims, when the vampire (played by Wolfgang Preiss, the ex-Dr. Mabuse himself, and another definite asset here) is eventually cornered, only the latest member of the 'cult' is ever seen by his side! Incidentally, it takes ages for the examining doctor (whose practice should, by all accounts, be steeped in superstition) to be brought around to accept that the supernatural is behind this crime-wave, whereas our hero from the big-city (eventually befriended by the doctor's black manservant) goes to consult an aged witch virtually the moment he arrives WTF?! The look of the film deliberately harks back to the golden age of horror which is certainly commendable but, unfortunately, the end product in this case is mainly listless and, thus, miles removed from the classics of yesteryear (if not unenjoyable per se...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An interpol detective is brought into investigate a series of deaths around a grotto under a castle. The regional authorities fear it will impact on tourism, but are unable to solve the "crimes" or mysteries. The locals seem to think it has something to do with a vampires curse from centuries before. Good, but really odd "horror" film plays more like one of the German crime films that were made about the same time. To be honest I kept wondering why I never saw this listed in the rolls of the Bryan and Edgar Wallace film series that ran from the late 1950's to early 1970's. Its a not a scary film and I don't really think it even tries to create any sort of horror movie tension, though it does create the sort you would find in a murder mystery. I would recommend it if you watched it while divorcing yourself from the notion that the film was really a horror movie. (I'd also suggest trying this on a dark and stormy night with some popcorn)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Der Fluch der grünen Augen" or "The Curse of the Green Eyes" (and there are many more German-language and English-language titles this film can be found as) is a West German / Yugoslavian co-production from 1964, so this one is already over 50 years old. The language here is German according to IMDb, but I also found English-language version for everybody who does not want to use subtitles. Decades ago, they already made color films here in Germany, but this one is (like some of the Edgar Wallace films) a black-and-white movie. The director is Ákos Ráthonyi and I see he had a pretty prolific career. Shame on me for not knowing him at all. This film here that runs for slightly under 90 minutes is definitely among his most known works and same can be said about writer Kurt Roecken. The lead actor is Adrian Hoven, certainly well-known to movie buffs in Germany and people may also have heard of Werner Preiss. Huge James Bond fans may recognize John Kitzmiller from "Dr. No". In the title of my review, I already mentioned the Edgar Wallace film series that was also very famous around that time. This movie here is not from said series, but it looks very similar in terms of how the characters interact and how the crime unfolds. There are differences, such as the setting being Germany here and there are real vampires in this movie, which is something you won't get with Wallace, but I still think that this film here will rather appear to fans of the Rialto film series than to lovers of the very old German horror films that also included vampires occasionally (Nosferatu e.g.). Overall, I was not really well-entertained and there were just not enough good moments for a 90-minute film. Very forgettable watch and I give it a thumbs-down.
I have to say some of the cinematography is outstanding - deeply and
eerily Gothic. At times it reminded me a bit of Nosferatu (1922). The
way the vampire came creeping into the bedroom, black magic, the grotto
and the spirits dancing around the fire for examples.
The film plays out like a horror mystery rather than pure horror. It is more or less a detective story and not a bad one. Of course this detective has a witch helping him get to the bottom of the mystery. In a lot of ways it's your average vampire story: do vampires really exist, some believe it while others don't, a search for the vampires, etc. So it's not a bad watch.
Curse of the Green Eyes, Night of the Vampire or Curse of the Living Dead -- some the names you can find this film under.
Released and Presented by Richard Gordon (who had absolutely nothing to
do with the production of this film) in the U.S. as "Cave of the Living
Dead". The police cannot solve the mystery of the seven murders which
have alarmed the local villagers. They call in Inspector Doren (Adrian
Hoven) of Interpol,and the only clue the Chief Constable can give his
young and famous (it says here) is the fact that, each time a murder
was committed, the electric lights in the whole neighborhood went out.
The locals believe that the killings of the young girls are linked to the vague shadows in the caves under the local castle and to the mysterious Curse of the Green Eyes. They distrust the young-and-famous inspector and offer no assistance when still another murder takes place in the village inn---in the room next to that occupied by the young-and-famous inspector---and the body disappears.
There are may suspects: the chattering innkeeper; the servant John (John Kitzmiller); the deaf-and-dumb Tom (Emmerich Schrenk); and the inscrutable doctor, Profesor Adelsberg (Wolfgang Preiss) who has been issuing strange death certificates.
Doren moves to the castle where Professor Adelsberg is carrying out some scientific studies. There, he meets the Professor's pretty assistant, Karin (Karin Field.) She is marked as the next victim, and would have been if the young-and-famous Interpol Inspector hadn't managed to discover the secret of the caves of the living dead and unmask the culprit.
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