Blood of the Vampire (1958) – Friday Night At The Home Drive-In

POster for Blood of the Vampire (1958)Blood of the Vampire (1958) by #HenryCass
#DonaldWolfit #VincentBall #BarbaraShelley

A wrongly convicted doctor is sent to a harsh institution where he assists the creepy warden conduct experiments with blood.

“No woman alive is safe from the most frightening fiend in the history of horror!”

“He begins where Dracula left off!”

#Horror #SciFi

Blood of the Vampire (1958) is another horror film from 1958 which I had never heard of before. It’s directed by Henry Cass, who also made a film called The Hand (1960), which I wrote about a while back. That one was more of a film noir, or crime drama, than a horror film. Blood of the Vampire feels like a Hammer horror film at first, but as it goes along it starts to become more of a strange drama of sorts. But much like The Hand, it’s just offbeat enough to be a rather interesting watch…

It’s about a Vampire, isn’t it?

While it certainly seems to be about a vampire at first, Blood of the Vampire is actually about – as Wikipedia puts it – “a scientist who uses the inmates of a prison for the criminally insane as sources for his gruesome blood-typing and transfusion experiments that are keeping him alive.”

So, he’s sort of a metaphorical vampire? Or is he?

At the beginning of the movie, he seems to be dead – and a wooden stake is driven through his heart. But then a severely deformed man named Carl steals the body and hires a drunken doctor to perform a heart transplant on it. The operation is successful, but Carl thanks the doctor by murdering him.

Years later, we learn that the undead man is Dr. Callistratus, and he runs a Prison for the Criminal Insane. It’s there where he performs the aforementioned experiments on the inmates. So, maybe he IS a vampire but he chooses to use scientific methods of obtaining blood, rather than attacking people on the streets. Or something like that.

It’s a Hammer film, isn’t it?

It certainly seems like it at a first. And apparently back in 1958, fans thought it was, partly because it was written by Jimmy Sangster – who wrote several Hammer movies. But alas, Blood of the Vampire is not a Hammer film, and not quite as good as that. Fans of Hammer, and Jimmy Sangster in particular, will still want to check it out.

The leading lady of Blood of the Vampire is Barbara Shelley, who acted in a fair number of horror films – including Hammer horror films like Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966), Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1966) and Quatermass and the Pit (1967). She was in fact the biggest female star that Hammer had, and was dubbed the “Queen of Hammer”. So I would imagine that this also led to people assuming that Blood of the Vampire was a Hammer film.

So what’s the verdict for Blood of the Vampire?

Blood of the Vampire (1958) is a decent example of atmospheric #NotQuiteClassicCinema. While it never rises to the levels of excitement or excellence of a Hammer film, or even many other movies of its ilk, it is still a decent movie with enough unusual aspects to keep you interested for about 90 minutes. Don’t expect too much from it, and you may find it to be a pleasant addition to your next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.