While I didn’t have a lot of time to work on the site over the summer, I did find time to fall completely and totally in love with a sexy little show called True Blood. I’ve always enjoyed vampires, but I am a little bit picky when it comes to the subject. (I find Twilight offensive in so very many ways). But True Blood is just all kinds of awesome. And it made me think about all the great vampire movies that came out of the classic era. Of course there are the well known ones, like Dracula with Bela Lugosi, and the silent masterpiece Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. But there are some pretty good vampire movies that aren’t too well known.¬† So, in honor of my True Blood love, and the fact that the second season will be over in less than two weeks, I’ve decided to write about two of my favorite obscure classic vampire films. One lost silent, and its remake.

London After Midnight (Todd Browning, 1927)
Sadly, the only print of London After Midnight was destroyed in a fire in the 1960s. The only material that exists are several publicity shots and a shooting script. This was enough to create a very thorough reconstruction, however.

The film stars Lon Chaney, easily one of the finest actors of the silent era. Really, one of the finest actors in film history. His makeup is, as usual, wonderful, and even through stills you can tell that his character is quite chilling.

The leading man in this movie is Conrad Nagel. Regular readers of this site will know that I’m a huge fan of his. I think that’s one of the saddest things about the loss of this film. Nagel was a wonderful actor, but he’s so little known today, and a lot of his films are lost. It’s just a huge shame that this is yet another of his performances that’s forever gone.

So, even though the film is lost, a very good reconstruction exists. From the shooting script we can see that it has a pretty good story. From its publicity stills, we can tell that it was probably quite creepy. And the presence of Chaney and Nagel assure that the acting was good.

Mark of the Vampire (Todd Browning, 1935)
Mark of the Vampire is a remake of London After Midnight. Being made by the same director, it is apparently an extremely faithful remake, almost shot for shot.

It isn’t a brilliant movie, but I think it’s a lot better than its IMDb rating would have you believe. It’s a little bit hammy, but at the end of the day Todd Browning really knew horror, and despite the ham, the most has a wonderful atmosphere.

It also has an incredible cast. Lionel Barrymore and Bela Lugosi are they big names in this one, and both give good performances. That’s to be expected from them, though, especially Barrymore, who was really never anything but good. The rest of the cast is filled with wonderful character actors. Elizabeth Allan is the female lead, and Lionel Atwill and Jean Hersholt play support.

By Katie Richardson

Advertisements

Halloween is finally here! So now I will finish my list of scary movies I love to watch on Halloween.

I Married a Witch
Not exactly a “scary” movie, but it is a great watch for Halloween. It’s the movie I always take to work to watch. Veronica Lake plays a witch who’s trying to get Fredric March to fall in love with her. The movie is a really funny romantic comedy, with a strange atmosphere that makes it perfect for Halloween viewing. Veronica Lake is pretty much the most adorable thing ever. If you want a light movie to enjoy this Halloween, I Married a Witch really is something you should look into.

London After Midnight
Sadly, the only print of this film was destroyed in a fire in the 1960s. But there’s a pretty good reconstruction using stills from the film and the original script. It’s not really eerie or scary since it’s really just pictures, but you can tell that the story is a bit creepy. It is a Lon Chaney movie, after all. And his makeup looks pretty amazing. Mostly, though, it is just something that has to be watched as an historical oddity. And we can hope that maybe, someone somewhere has a print of this, hidden in their attic, without realizing it. The remake, 1935’s Mark of the Vampire is worth watching, but it’s not a great movie.

Mad Love
Peter Lorre could be a really creepy dude when he wanted to be. And clearly in Mad Love, he wanted to be. It’s not a ghost story. It’s one of those films that’s a horror film based on its atmosphere, and the horrible actions of its main character. Lorre is a crazy doctor who falls in love (or, really, just becomes obsessed) with a beautiful actress. When her paino player husband’s hands are damaged in an accident, Lorre replaces them the the hands of a murderous knife thrower. It’s just¬† strange, completely creepy movie that’s excellent for Halloween viewing.

And there you have it. My Halloween recommendations.

Here’s the link for Part 1, in case you missed it.
https://obscureclassics.wordpress.com/2008/10/01/zombies-and-witches-and-ghosts-oh-my/

By Katie Richardson