Friday night at the home drive-in: The Vampire (1957)

Poster for The Vampire (1957)The Vampire (1957) by #PaulLandres

w/#JohnBeal #ColeenGray #KennethTobey #LydiaReed

After a small town doctor mistakenly takes experimental pills made from the blood of vampire bats – he finds that he might be turning into a monster.

“A New Kind of Killer to Stalk the Screen!”

#Horror #SciFi

The Vampire (1957) is a nifty little monster movie that I never saw as a child or teenager. It wasn’t until I purchased a Midnight Movies double feature DVD some fifteen odd years ago that I even became aware of the movie. It was paired with The Return of Dracula (1958), which I talked about few weeks ago. Both movies were directed by Paul Landres, but I was not familiar with him either. 

Like it’s DVD companion, The Vampire is not set in a musty old castle somewhere in Europe, but rather in small town America of the 1950s. While The Return of Dracula does feature a vampire from the old country who moves to the good old U.S.A., The Vampire blames science for bringing a bloodsucker to the streets of America. “How?” you might ask. It goes something like this…

A not-so-mad doctor experiments with the blood of vampire bats. Another, even less mad doctor, accidentally ingests some experimental pills that were created by the first perfectly sane scientist. This causes the second unfortunate physician to become a much less sane person – at least late at night. In fact, you could say he turns into a beast…

The Vampire is actually, in a lot of ways, much more like a werewolf movie than a traditional vampire movie. It’s about a kind, good man – a single father raising a young daughter, in fact – who becomes an out of control monster at night and winds up hurting the people he cares about. Admittedly, he does it by biting their necks and draining them of blood, but still… he’s not unlike some forgotten cousin of Larry Talbot from The Wolf Man (1941). 

Dr. Paul Beecher, played by John Beal, knows that he is doing horrible things and he wants to stop himself. There is a sadness to his character – not unlike Larry Talbot – and this makes The Vampire different from most of the other vampire movies I have seen. 

Don’t get me wrong, The Vampire is a lot of fun. Who doesn’t like to watch a normal person transforming into a beast and going on a rampage? Who doesn’t love to root for the tortured hero and hope he finds a way to somehow beat this curse and get his perfect like back?

The Vampire (1957) manages to be funny, poignant, suspenseful, and even scary at times. It features characters that are likeable and interesting. It’s the kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that I loved to watch late at night when I was a kid. I may have missed it back then, but I look forward to seeing it again on some future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.