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  • The one enduring image from this film that has haunted me across the years is the weird hunchback assistant to the villain. Its an image that was splashed across horror magazines of my childhood. There was something about the twisted fellow with an eye that drooped to his cheek that made you want to see the movie. I never saw the film as a kid and it wasn't until tonight, well into my adulthood, that I managed to see the film. I can't say I was disappointed.

    The plot concerns Dr John Pierre who is wrongly thrown in jail. He is redirected to the asylum/prison run by Dr Callistratus so that John Pierre can help Callistratus with his experiments concerning blood. As those outside the prison attempt to free him through legal means Pierre is forced to deal with the strange goings on in the prison, including fending off the sadistic Carl, the hunchbacked assistant of Callistratus.

    Gothic, and grandly over the top in the way that most of the Hammer films weren't this is a cheesy but fun attempt at copying the Hammer Studios formula. It looks and feels very much like Hammer in it styling and plotting (Then again Jimmy Sangster of Hammer wrote the script) .Shot in color, the print I saw was well worn and a bit faded. I wonder how this would have looked at the time of its original release. It must have looked great. I loved the sets which were done in such a way as to give the illusion of space, unfortunately it turned every location into spaces the size of football stadiums (though in several sequences things were much too cramped).

    The whole thing reminded me of the sort of thing you used to run across at 2am on late night TV with too many commercials. Actually as much as I liked the film I do think it is a bit plodding and probably could have used either trimming or a commercial break or two.

    Strangely this film is very difficult to see. I'm at a loss as to why this film has fallen through the cracks over the last 40 odd years. Its not a bad movie, though it is a tad creaky and of a style they haven't done since Hammer stopped making movies. Perhaps its simply a matter of falling between the cracks in finding a distributor (it was not done by a "major producer"), or more likely the fact that there is no vampire with wings and fangs as promised in the title. What ever the real reason its a shame because this film is worth a look.

    If you like Hammer style horror or good but rarely seen films, search this one out and give it a try. Its certainly worth a bag of popcorn on a Saturday night watch movies.
  • I couldn't agree more with the positive comments on this much-overlooked Hammer-styled gem. The 2006 Dark Sky DVD double-feature (with "The Hellfire Club") is a *must-have* for any fan of the early Hammer films. A delightful drive-in double-feature program design, including concessions ads, trailers and even an intermission, really adds to the enjoyment of the these two classic films. The transfer on both is quite respectable, certainly much superior to anything previously available, and is in anamorphic widescreen. Kudos to Dark Sky for their outstanding work on this and many other rare genre classics!
  • tedg4 July 2010
    We each have the experiences that brought us to the way we dream, and the forms we use in wrangling the world. My cinematic maturity is pretty traceable because the films and the watching were so self-ware.

    Going back before well-formed notions of self, this was one film experience that changed me. Or rather I should say that the first two minutes changed me. It was my first movie alone, and my first non-cartoon movie. Sent on a mission to get bread, this ten year old sneaked into a matinée with the 15 cents left over. Sitting virtually alone I knew that what I was doing would be costly, and that I would be crossing a boundary with my life never fully retrieved.

    This movie starts with some text that tells us about the curse of the vampire being the greatest evil ever visited on the earth and that we are entering Transylvania during what I assumed was its riskiest, spookiest time. The only way to kill a vampire, we are told, is by a stake through the heart. We are in an unkempt graveyard, Leni Riefenstahl's mountains in the background. If a church bell tolls it doesn't matter because I heard it. Tones are muted, the distance is far. We know it is the deepest part of night.

    Townsfolk carry a wrapped corpse on a stretcher, careful about their delicate business in managing the evil undead. They tip the corpse into the shallow grave, the only real space, and the covering comes off the body's face. We see not the artificial snarling teeth that we expect, but a regular bank president sort of guy.

    The camera now looks up from the grave at two hired executioners. One has a stake five feet long, the other a wooden mallet with a head as big as his, something I suppose actually existed. But it is huge and the wide lens makes it very much larger as we hear the crunch of the stake through flesh and see and hear the pounding just as if it were our heart. The camera then shows the stake, the palette effectively shifting from black and white to color.

    A quick title and then we see a hunchback skulking behind a rock. His right eye (the wrong color) drooping two inches too low. Even a ten year old cinematic virgin could see at once that the action we have witnessed we have seen through his eye and that of the corpse. I was out of that air conditioned theater like my life depended on it. The bread did not survive.

    Now, after more than 50 years I can sit through the entire film. The first sequence is still masterful I think. But the rest of the thing must have been created by another team. Boring. It has dogs, which together with the opening must have been all Sangster had in mind when he started.

    Funny how you build a life.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
  • A lunatic doctor in 1874 Transylvania, thought to be a vampire and killed with a wooden stake through his heart, is given a new ticker and resurrected from the dead; after changing his identity, he is put in charge of a remote prison for the criminally insane, but finds he needs medical help after his antagonistic blood cells are at odds with each other. Enter Vincent Ball (who amusingly resembles Edward Norton!) as a young doctor railroaded into prison via tampered evidence, and Barbara Shelley as Ball's sweetheart who believes her fiancé is innocent. Amazing, unusual screenplay from the talented Jimmy Sangster and solid performances bolster this horror-movie-which-really-isn't. A prologue complete with vampire-hunters and bright red blood prepares us for the standard bloodsucker set-up, yet Sangster is more interested in the wronged victim than the so-called vampire, and the action inside the heavily-guarded jail is surprisingly suspenseful. Some of the violence is a bit timid or rushed through, such as when a sadistic guard lands on his own bayonet blade (either director Henry Cass or his editor skitter passed the gruesome incidents), and there are a few plot-holes which the writer leaves gaping. Otherwise, an efficient and enjoyable British-made thriller filmed in muted, gloomy Eastmancolor; not the 'shocker' advertised, but actually so much more. *** from ****
  • Here's a well-done Hammer-styled "cash-in" of Horror of Dracula, interestingly enough done by a US production company and released by Universal (Universal-International in those days), which of course was the company that did all those great classic horror films that Hammer eventually updated with great success.

    It is too bad that this film has been so neglected that it cannot be seen except on worn-out and ridiculously expensive factory VHS tapes that are rare, or on DVD duplicates made off of faded 16mm film prints. I saw this 30 years ago on TV from a good 35mm print and remember that the colors were great, but the recent 16mm dupe I saw was really faded. Still, increase the TV color saturation, and it's way better than nothing at all. (UPDATE: I thought I'd better update this now that a factory DVD has been recently released. No longer do you have to pay way too much to see this.)

    The few occasional lapses in logic notwithstanding, this is bound to please any fan of the early Hammer horror films, and Donald Wolfit does a great turn as the doctor who has become a sort of living vampire. Though there are no real supernatural elements, this film tops many others without having to rely upon the fantastic to carry it. A fabulous beginning title sequence is followed by a great scene where the vampire-doctor is revived, with his misshapen servant beside him, and then a large bat flies out from the ceiling rafters. You would swear it was an actual bat, and then wonder how did they get it to do it just right?

    As an example of the attention to detail you'll see here: during a conversation between two prisoners, a rat scurries behind one unnoticed and for no other reason than to show that the place is a squalid jail cell. Nobody sees it, yells or stomps on it, or anything you'd expect to happen in another film. It's just there and passes by. Now that's real set design!
  • gslv16 August 2007
    What should make this film a classic is the opening vampire staking scene. The greatest staking scene in movie history, with Kiss Of the Vampire second. I have this film on a 1978 VHS release with excellent color, and I also saw it in the theatre at the time. It's strong effective stuff. As some say, it can also be draggy in the middle. The laboratory scenes of working on blood samples may be dreary. But it has vicious dogs released on escaping prisoners, sneaking and climbing up into the maiden's room, a deformed hunchback, a good climactic scene, and great colorful sets. Good Gothic. The same producers also made The Hellfire Club, Jack the Ripper, and The Flesh and the Fiends (about Burke and Hare). I'd like to know which video releases have faded color and which have good.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film used to be on television fairly often, but has not been shown in years. It has made its way to home video ,and is not hard to find. One thing that really stands out is the screenplay by Jimmy Sangster. I don't know which movie he wrote first, but in 1958, the British film company Hammer released The Revenge of Frankenstein, and the Berman-Baker team this one. Both screenplays involve a large number of similar incidents and characters, so that one movie almost seems a mirror reflection of the other. BOTV is far nastier than the Hammer film, which is essentially a witty black comedy. Both films apparently caused some controversy in late Fifties England, owing to what a movie critic deemed a deliberate depiction of concentration camp imagery. It's entirely possible that to a filmgoing public only a dozen or so years removed from the end of World War Two, the scenes in both Sangster screenplays involving mad doctors experimenting on helpless prisoners for their own bizarre schemes, were a little too reminiscent of the Nazi medical experiments at various death camps. Whether Sangster intended to evoke this image is debatable, but it's true that the mad scientist played by Donald Wolfit in BOTV could certainly be seen as a Nineteenth century Mengele. The prison sets are believable and the story is fairly convincing, with good performances by the leads. Barbara Shelley plays another of her early damsels in distress. Vincent Ball as the hero and his cell mate William Devlin are both good, with some fine supporting performances from actors playing guards and prison officials. A first time viewer is likely to feel cheated, though. SPOILERS AHEAD: The revelation that there is no supernatural vampire in this movie is a letdown. The villain is an otherwise routine mad doctor, experimenting on prisoners to find a kind of synthetic blood that will keep him alive, after his resurrection through scientific means. In fact, this part of the story strongly resembles the Warner Brothers 1939 movie The Return of Doctor X, with Humphrey Bogart as a quasi-vampire. Wolfit is convincing as the evil surgeon, Dr. Callistratus ( surely, the resemblance of the name to 'castration' isn't coincidental). He brings a certain grim realism to the fantastic storyline, and the movie remains pretty strong stuff even today, though some of the nastier events are implied ,rather than shown. Not a bad movie, a bit of a curiosity worth seeing at least once.It definitely succeeds as a horror movie, in the gruesome storyline and the barbaric prison setting.
  • Blood of the Vampire is one of those films that suggests it is more than it is. There is no vampire in the film, and there were only two references to vampires at all in the entire film. The film is a story of a doctor who tries revolutionary surgery on a dying patient only to end up as a visitor(prisoner) at a remote castle-prison run by a wicked scientist-warden and some of the most depraved prison guards around. The warden is played by none other than heavy Sir Donald Wolfit in full regalia as a thick slice of ham. Wolfit is a pleasure to watch as he barks out orders and sadistic lines to his lazy-eyed hunchback assistant and other minions about the prison. It seems he needs a scientist to help him with a blood disease he has. Victor Ball does a credible job as the good-natured prisoner. Lovely Barbara Shelley plays his love-interest. Miss Shelley looks simply wonderful. I was fortunate to meet Miss Shelley recently, and she told me that the film The Dresser was based on the life of Sir Donald Wolfit. It isn't hard to believe after watching this film. The man has an enormous presence about him. He really blows into existence what little life this film has. The film has a Hammer look to it, although not nearly as well-made. The budget for this film was apparently limited. The gothic look is, however, pretty genuine. I particularly liked the castle used. The pace of the film would be viewed by many as plodding. I rather enjoyed it...campness and all. A good old-fashioned horror tale!
  • Decent Hammer imitation with a script by that studio's chief scribe, Jimmy Sangster. Producers Monty Berman and Robert S. Baker competed with Hammer in the horror stakes during the late 1950s/early 1960s (with Berman usually doubling also as cinematographer) via such efforts – besides the one under review which was actually their first – as THE TROLLENBERG TERROR aka THE CRAWLING EYE (1958), JACK THE RIPPER (1959), THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS (1960) and THE HELLFIRE CLUB (1961). Director Cass is best-known (if at all) for the Alec Guinness comedy LAST HOLIDAY (1950), itself recently retooled for the dubious talents of Queen Latifah!

    The film (which I had been looking forward to for ages after viewing stills from it in critiques of the genre penned by film historian Alan Frank) is a lurid melodrama in vivid color and with, pardon the pun, full-blooded performances – but the contrived end result somehow misses the mark. For starters, the script seems uncertain whether it wants to be a Dracula (given its title and 'bloodthirsty' villain) or a Frankenstein (in view of the villain's guinea-pig experimentations with moribund or dead subjects) clone; the fact that it is almost entirely set in a mental institution-cum-prison (that includes future "Carry On" member Bernard Bresslaw as a rowdy jailbird) brings forth comparisons with the superior final Hammer Frankenstein entry FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL (1974)!

    Distinguished thespian Donald Wolfit is surprisingly but effectively cast in the lead, while Victor Maddern has a memorable look as his knife-wielding henchman (although, again, bearing hideous features that are never explained); future Hammer startlet Barbara Shelley and Vincent Ball (playing a character saddled with the amusing name of John Pierre!), then, are reasonably appealing as the romantic leads. The rousing score is equally notable – as is a nasty climax featuring a pack of wild dogs prefiguring the one in Georges Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1959)! Incidentally, there is a very noticeable jump-cut during one of the lab scenes (suggesting that the film had censorship issues back in the day); incidentally, the Dark Sky DVD – which cleverly pairs it with the aforementioned THE HELLFIRE CLUB – amusingly allowed one to watch the show just as if it were playing in an old-fashioned Drive-In (complete with a host of schlocky trailers, ads and announcements)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Despite the title, there really are no vampires in this film. However, despite this, it is still a scary film--sort of like a film in the same vein as THE TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM. Here, the horrible monster is a very human one.

    When the film begins, a man (Dr. Callistratus) is being impaled in the grave. Apparently, he had done something rather nasty and was getting his just reward. However, as the body is about to be buried, a goofy-eyed hunchback attacks the grave digger and takes the body to a drunk doctor who performs a heart transplant--a pretty good feat for the 1800s! Later, you find that the dead man was indeed revived and changed his identity--making himself the warden of a prison for the criminally insane. Unfortunately, the most insane aspect of this "institution" are the staff who beat the prisoners and the doctor that performs vivisection on the prisoners.

    Soon, another doctor is wrongly convicted of killing one of his patients and the most damning evidence is a letter from the doctor's mentor saying that they should "throw the book at the doc". Oddly, instead of the usual penal colony, the guy is sent to the mental institution and becomes the unwilling assistant to Callistratus. Later, exactly why he was needed by Callistratus comes to light as well as the diabolical way that the madman is running the place.

    There's a lot more to the movie than this and there is a plot element involving blood--but remember, there are no vampires in this one. In many ways, the fact that a supposedly "normal" man would commit many acts of horror and torture is probably a lot scarier than if Callistrautus HAD been a true vampire. For lovers of the genre, this is good stuff. Others might wince at the blood and horror--this is NOT a film for the kiddies!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I feel that BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE is a real precursor to Wes Craven's Dracula II (Ascension). Albeit in that film, the villain is trying to use vampirism to cure another disease, it's still remarkably similar.

    In this take on vampirism, the condition (alluded to, not mentioned) is viewed as a disease itself. One to be cured by Dr. Callistratus. He also happens to be the one afflicted with the disease!

    In light of this, Callistratus has prepared for his demise, by preserving a living, beating heart, which could be surgically implanted by another physician, in the event of his death. That death, which is by a stake through the heart, happens at the beginning of the movie; and, is the only reference to Callistratus being a vampire.

    Another surgeon (played by Victor Ball), botches an operation; and winds up in a remote castle-prison run by Callistratus. It is a home for the criminally insane. Fortunately for the good doctor, Callistratus needs his help with finding a cure for his rare blood disease.

    The actors all did a credible job; and, the film was enjoyable to watch. The film features a very convincing Gothic look, especially the castle. There's a lot of silliness in the courtroom; and, involving government officials corrupted by Callistratus; but, that's all back-story, for this vampire thriller.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Dr. John Pierre(Vincent Ball)is sentenced to prison for performing a procedure scorned by his superiors as illegal practice by attempting to transplant a different type of blood to a man who was bound to die anyway. He has a doctor who could vouch that his procedure was done under only the most unusual circumstances, but an evil scientist, Callistratus(Donald Wolfit, actually pretty decent under hideous make-up)has a corrupt Prison Commission officer Auron(Bryan Coleman)transport him to his insane asylum. Callistratus, the supposed "vampire" of the title, was brought back to life thanks to a new heart transplanted to him through the work of his freakish assistant Karl(Victor Maddem, a face on one side drooping with this disturbing eye giving him a scary, mangled disposition)and a drunk surgeon.

    Pierre is granted a reprieve when it's found that his witness, of the procedure considered malpractice was in fact a case of trying to save his dying patient, did not send a damning letter supposedly claiming that he doesn't even know Pierre. The fact that Auron was the forger increases Callistratus' motivation for using Pierre as quickly as possible. He desires Pierre to finish his work regarding counteracting a blood disease where one set of cells are killing another set..Callistratus' heart is not helping his blood function normally so he needs Pierre to discover his cure before death returns his way. Soon, Pierre tries to escape with a prisoner chum, Kurt(William Devlin)resulting badly. Callistratus sends, through Auron, a letter announcing Pierre's death by trying to escape hoping to buy as much time as possible for him to discover the answer to the blood problem. What he doesn't suspect, nor Auron, was Madeleine Duval(Barbara Shelley)coming under disguise as a housemaid..she is Pierre's lady-love who just wouldn't believe her man was dead. This will put her in great danger for Karl knows who she is(..he stole her photo locket from Andrew Faulds' evil Chief Guard Wetzler, who confiscated it from Pierre)and so does Auron. Can Duval help her love escape? Will Pierre be able to free himself from the clutches of Callistratus?

    Not really a vampire film as the title suggests, but Callistratus is quite the nemesis for our falsely imprisoned hero. He wants to live and will take the necessary steps to see this happen. The prison conditions, and the overall Middle-Ages-type prison setting are what makes this such a colorful horror flick. There are deadly dogs that are released to attack a few people, we understand that many people suffer horrible deaths thanks to Callistratus' blood-draining experiments. You have the corrupt middle-man Auron halting Pierre's release from his asylum and the "innocent trying to escape from these harsh environs" is a plot that always works in such a macabre setting as is in this film. You add Duval's in disguise facing possible peril, the suspense increases. Not too shabby for a film that was not made by Hammer studios. Good production values and stylish direction are assets. Flawed, but entertaining.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The title of "Booby Trap" director Herbert Cass' horror movie "Blood of the Vampire" is misleading. Actually, no traditional vampires with fangs appear in this atmospheric chiller about a mad 18th century Transylvanian scientist performing illegal medical procedures. A man who embarks on bizarre medical experiments, Doctor Callistratus (Donald Wolfit of "Becket") pays the ultimate price for his perfidy with death. Not only do righteous, good people put him to death, but they also have a powerfully built chap who sinks an iron stake into Callistratus' body and then hammer it through his corpse. Meanwhile, the mad scientist's loyal right-hand man, a crippled, deformed hunchback with one drooping eye hanging out of his face, Carl (Victor Maddern of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"), takes Callistratus' body to another unethical doctor who performs open heart surgery and brings Callistratus back to life.

    Mind you, Callistratus had been accused of being a vampire because he conducted experiments on his doomed patients to learn more about their blood and why some blood rejects other blood. British horror writer Jimmy Sangster has conjured up an interesting Gothic melodrama, but the absence of a vampire undercuts the narrative. You keep waiting for the notorious supernatural figure to show up but it never does. Doctor Callistratus manages to obtain a post as a prison warden so he can experiment with a variety of bodies. His downfall comes about when another doctor, Dr. John Pierre (Vincent Ball of "Where Eagles Dare") is put on trial for the unorthodox medical procedure of transfusing blood and sentenced to life in prison. It turns out that one of Pierre's witnesses, who sent him testimony by mail, didn't write the letter that would have cleared Pierre. Instead, another man, Monsieur Auron (Bryan Coleman) intercepted the letter and rewrote it. Rather than being confined on Campbell Island, our wrongly charged protagonist—Dr. Pierre—winds up in another prison; Callistratus runs the prison where Pierre is incarcerated and he uses Pierre to help him in his diabolical experiments. Callistratus is searching for a way to avoid constant blood transfusions because the cells in his blood are at war with each other. Eventually, Auron warns Callistratus that the alarming number of deaths occurring at his prison is bothering the authorities.

    Just when things for Callistratus couldn't get worse, he hires a new cleaning lady, Madeleine Duval (Barbara Shelley of "Dracula: Prince of Darkness"), to work for him. What Callistratus doesn't know is that Duval is Pierre's wife. She got Pierre defense witness who wrote the damaging letter to come forth and report that his testimony had been tamper with and the court had changed its ruling and cleared Pierre of all foul play. Callistratus responded by reporting that Pierre had died during a prison break and he is taken for his word. Duval shows up incognito to save her husband, but she runs into Auron who wants to rape her. Carl attacks Auron and Callistratus intervenes. He winds up killing Auron because the man tells him that he will turn him into the authorities. At the same time, the evil Callistratus decides to use Duval in one of his unearthly experiments. Pierre manages to escape and thwart Callistratus.

    No, the make-up for the murderous hunchback lacks verisimilitude, but it adds a grotesque sense of cheesiness to "Blood of the Vampire." Everything else looks good, especially the sets. "Blood of the Vampires" relies on a formulaic, melodramatic plot. The performances are good, especially Wolfit as the fiendish Callistratus, but the far-fetched action and the absence of a vampire undercut the action.
  • Well, fans of Gothic style 50s horror will love this classic movie. For me, I was expecting a little more 'vampire' in the story, like a gorgeous vampiress dressed in a gown with fangs galore to bite the neck of those she seduces - but sadly no.

    The movie starts with the Count being staked through the heart and buried, before his servant 'Karl' (who plays a good Igor like character) takes his masters body to a mental asylum to revive him.

    After a Doctor is wrongly accused in court of killing a patient through blood transfusing, he is sent to the asylum for his life-long punishment, only to become a servant to the Count, who wants to use his expertise in surgical practise on other inmates, mainly their blood.

    This movie has the imagery of Hammer Horror, given by it's writer Jimmy Sangster, but sadly lacks the punch of a good dramatic Vampire story.

    As classic Gothic horrors go, it's worth a look.
  • Set at a ghastly castle where happens scabrous and horrifying events along with scary human experiments . It is set in the late nineteenth century, a Transylvanian doctor (Donald Wolfit) who undergoes attempts to transfuse blood in the 1880s is executed for being a vampire and his hunchbacked assistant (Victor Maddern) brings him to life . Later on ,becomes a ruthless prison institution Principal , along with his crippled assistant, conducts research on the inmates. Meanwhile , Dr John Pierre (Vincent Ball) has been convicted of malpractice leading to death , he is then locked at the mental institution run by the nasty and anaemic governor . After that , the beautiful Pierre's fianceé (Barbara Shelley), has petitioned the Prison Commission to review Pierre's case on grounds and undercover takes a job as a housekeeper .Nothing Like It This Side of Hell! He begins where Dracula left off! No woman alive is safe from the most frightening fiend in the history of horror . The fiend who feasted on the life-blood of his hapless victims ¡ .

    Nice terrifying movie contains truculent interpretations , chills , thrills , sadism, erotism and astonishing attacks by the huchbacked hoodlum . This is an alright horror movie where intrigue , tension , suspense appear threatening and lurking in every room , corridors , basement from a grim hospital . Thrilling horror in Hammer typical characteristics ; however being produced by Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman , who hired Jimmy Sangster, prestigious writer of Hammer , to do the interesting screenplay by displaying chills , shocks , violence , torture and a cocktail of sinister and amazing roles . Enjoyable terror movie revolving around a haunted hospital castle plot with plenty of murders , eerie appearances , creepy torture and ghastly events . In spite of a few escenarios and its medium budget the picture is decent , thanks to the adequate filmmaking , frightening musical score by Stanley Black , stunning cinematography in Eastman Colour by Monty Berman taking great use of gaudy lights and shades as well as camera positioning to complement appropriate horror set pieces .

    Well produced by Robert S Baker and Monty Berman , both of them drafted in WWII and shortly after created the production company Tempean Films making short budget movies about thriller , comedy , and Noir genres , such as : Blind Spot , Home Is the Hero , Sally's Irish Rogue , Boyd's Shop , What a carve up ¡ , The Treasure of Monte Cristo , Vendetta for the Saint ,The Siege of Sidney Street and subsequently successful terror movies following the Hammer Films' important wake and later the hit ¨The curse of Frankenstein¨ 1957 and Dracula 1958 . Nevertheless , Baker/Berman movies were more violent , erotic and bloodiest than Hammer films , and used to full of naked girls . As they produced the following ones : The Hellfire Club , Flesh and the devil , Jack the Ripper , The Trollenberg Terror , among others and most of them packed double version , both light and hard with nudism . The motion picture was competently directed by Henry Cass and filming took four weeks. Rating : 7/10 . Above average . Worthwhile seeing .
  • This movie begins in 1874 at a graveyard in Transylvania with a stake being driven through the heart of a corpse. Not long afterward a seriously deformed man enters the local tavern and requests the presence of the local doctor. Upon being taken to a nearby laboratory the doctor inserts a freshly removed heart from a man recently killed into the chest of the corpse from the graveyard. Six years later the scene shifts to the city of Karlstadt where another doctor named "Dr. John Pierre" (Vincent Ball) is sentenced to life in prison for accidentally killing his patient by using a certain procedure not recognized at the time by the medical community. However, rather than being taken to his assigned prison, Dr. John Pierre is instead taken to a place for the criminally insane which just happens to be supervised by the same person who had his chest punctured in Transylvania six years earlier, "Dr. Callistratus" (Donald Wolfit). Now rather than reveal any more I will just say the title is somewhat misleading as there isn't an actual vampire featured in this movie at all. At least not in the usual concept. Because of that this film doesn't contain the usual action or horror one might expect either. As such I found this movie to be slightly disappointing in that regard. Even so it was an adequate film for the most part and having an attractive woman like Barbara Shelley (as "Madelaine Duval") certainly didn't hurt. In any case, I have rated the film accordingly. Average.
  • BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE is a pseudo-Hammer film made to cash in on the huge success of Hammer's THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. It's a bit of a mixed success, at least in terms of the production: the low budget is evident from the limited number of sets, but what sets! The whole film looks delicious and colourful with a real Gothic atmosphere that rivals Hammer at their best. The rival producers even hired Hammer man Jimmy Sangster to write the screenplay, which is all about early blood transfusions rather than any real vampirism – so if you go in looking for neck-biting antics you'll be sorely disappointed.

    Much of the film is set in an asylum for the criminal insane, presided over by sinister doctor Callistratus (played by renowned theatre actor Donald Wolfit, who looks uncannily like a bigger version of Bela Lugosi here). Vincent Ball is the dashing hero thrown into the chaos, finding himself at the mercy of brutal guards, vicious Dobermans lurking outside the asylum, atrocious conditions, torture, and a creepy hunchback (the sympathetic Victor Maddern, hidden beneath some delightfully grotesque makeup that puts his eye halfway down his cheek). Before long, the utterly beautiful Barbara Shelley is also on the scene and at the mercy of the villains...

    Sangster's script reads like a half-baked version of THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and indeed he took many of the themes in this movie and strengthened them for the Hammer sequel. Still, even if the script is slightly sub-par, the pacing is spot on and there's never a boring spot here. The Gothic feel is spot on, with plenty of spooky atmosphere punctuated by sudden moments of the grotesque – a heart beating on its on in a tank, a limbless body kept alive, a corpse in a block of ice. I didn't even mind the lack of undead, as I've always enjoyed the scientific paraphernalia in these movies. Other moments of interest include brief appearances from John Le Mesurier as a judge and Bernard Bresslaw as a thief. The sole aim of this film may have been to rip-off Hammer and director Henry Cass may be workmanlike at best, but still I enjoyed this fun and colourful little romp.
  • I see that all the key people here, Director, Writer and leads, all have plenty of credits to their name, so it is hard to see quite what went wrong. I know the film has it's fans but for all the efforts of all concerned, it really does stretch one's credulity and truly creaks along for most of it's modest length. Accepted, the vivid opening and credits are splendid. Nice vigorous bashing in of the stake and the power of it carries over when we again see the body but after the spirited opening this tends to disappoint. Only Donald Wolfit truly shines and he and Victor Maddern, playing a well OTT Igor character, are really relied upon to carry the whole film. Decent look and effective music but this really doesn't rise above the plot holes and the rather dreary storyline. Not to mention the lack of a vampire!
  • Wrongly convicted of a murder, a Victorian-era doctor finds himself in a prison overrun by a fanatical tyrant conducting strange blood experiments and once he finds the true cause if his stay tries to stop it from happening.

    This was a heavily flawed and really damaging effort. The most detrimental and wholly useless factor to this one is the fact that we're barely exposed to anything that can be considered pertinent to a vampire story. Beyond a fine and atmospheric opening of a staking ceremony being carried out, this one has virtually nothing to do with a vampire as this is more of a mad doctor imprisoning rather than anything supernatural. There's no aversion to crosses, Holy Water or sunlight, sleeping in coffins or even bearing their fangs at all, as all the participants here are human which makes this one tough to get into. This makes the beginning, where we're introduced to the prison's inmates and the different experiments being conducted take on a different air of boredom and extreme dragging of the pacing without having a deadly threat emerge from the story. This is also brought along by the rather lacking amount of action where hardly anything happens here, and that's there's only two real action scenes with the opening staking and a rather enjoyable escape attempt thwarted by ravenous guard-dogs. With the period time- span is where a lot of what to like about it comes, as being placed during that part allows for the old-school Gothic atmosphere to come creeping into the film from the central asylum. It's an old-fashioned, imposing type, where the place airs a really great atmosphere and really makes it seem that it's a hopeless, dreary location. The place is dirty and disgusting in it's holding cells while it's at least cleaner in the medical research facilities. This is what is precisely needed of the place, since there's always a need for a place like that to be a fearful location. Still, it's quite a downfall since it's really boring, and coupled with the switch around doesn't leave itself too impressive overall.

    Today's Rating-PG-13: Violence.
  • There were two outstanding aspects to this formulaic film about a "mad scientist," No, there are no vampires in the film. It is about a doctor who performs experiments in a prison to cure his illness. The Nazis who experimented on prisoners in the camps would applaud his efforts.

    One thing that impressed me was the quality of the film. Monty Berman's cinematography was so outstanding that you were distracted from the story at times.

    The other outstanding feature was the characters and the actors who portrayed them. Donald Wolfit was perfect as Doctor Callistratus, the doctor performing the experiments. He was assisted by Carl (Victor Maddern), a deformed hunchback that has to be seen to be believed; and Andrew Faulds as the chief guard, who always had a sinister look on his face.

    Jimmy Sangster, who was a major force behind Hammer Films, wrote a script that managed to keep you interested. Minor improvements would have made this an outstanding film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Silly horror movie. POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!!! A mad doctor runs an insane asylum (how original--heavy sarcasm). For reasons not worth mentioning he needs the blood of inmates to stay alive.

    That's it. No vampires at all, but the film does open with a pretty bloody (and totally unnecessary) staking. The film looks great--beautiful sets, nice color and some fairly strong violence (for 1958). But that's about it. The plot is stupid, the pace is slow and it gets pretty dull.

    Donald Wolfit, as the doctor, really tries to give a good performance but he's stuck in some lousy makeup that makes him look like Bela Lugosi (WHY?)! Also check out the even worse makeup on his deformed assistant Carl (Victor Maddern). Vincent Ball (horrible actor but handsome) and Barbara Sheeley (beautiful as always but given nothing to do) are the obligatory nice, innocent couple.

    Not unwatchable but of very little interest either.
  • Sir Donald Wolfit is in his theatrical pomp here as the menacing "Callistratus" - an anaemic doctor who is in charge of a prison. There he experiments on the inmates with impunity as he tries to find a cure for his own terminal ailment. Vincent Ball is the wrongly convicted doctor who initially aids our mad scientist but ultimately sees the light and resists! It isn't Hammer, not anywhere near; but it isn't rubbish either. If you like the genre, then there are enough twists in the half-decent plot to keep this 90-minute horror yarn entertaining. It's got quite a weak, but fitting, ending too!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As the lead review mentions, "Blood of the Vampire" starts out with a bang - a vivid, lurid, garish, and shocking "staking" scene worthy of the Hammer "Grand Guignol" tradition. And it has a fairly novel variation on the theme, i.e., the "vampire" is actually a scientist with a blood/anemia issue who must receive regular transfusions of blood from others to stay alive.

    The rest of the movie is, well, bog-standard. Only it seems to be the standard tropes from a "Frankenstein" movie instead of a "Dracula" one. (And maybe "The Count Of Monte Cristo.") I've got no problem with that (those aren't bad sources), but I do have a problem with the lack of forward momentum in the script at some points.

    Also, Wolfert is OK, but in my mind, he doesn't bring anything special to the role. He doesn't have the charisma or polish of Lee, or Lugosi, or even Francis Lederer ( from "Return Of Dracula", released in the same year). Wolfert has a sinister mien and is suitably grumpy, mean, and ruthless...but he's not scary or intimidating or fascinating in and of himself. In a movie supposedly about vampires, that's also a problem.

    So: I'd call it a watchable "Creature Feature"/Saturday Matinee entry. It has a couple of new ideas, a hard working cast, decent photography, art direction, and sets, and it will keep you mildly entertained for a couple of hours.

    You can't ask for much more than that.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When medical researcher Vincent Ball is sent to prison for conducting experiments that have not been approved by the medical board, a mysterious doctor (Donald Wolfitt) who runs his own prison arranges to have Ball transferred there. Wolfitt intends to use Ball's knowledge to do his bidding which includes experiments on other prisoners. Wolfitt, we learn, is suffering from a rare blood condition, and that makes him rely on other people's blood so in one way he is a vampire, but not in the traditional way of Bram Stoker. Suspicious of where Ball has been transferred and later learning that he has apparently been killed in escape attempt, his fiance Barbara Shelley arranges to get a job there as a housekeeper. As there usually is in films like this, there is a deformed assistant (Victor Maddern) who made be deranged in his willingness to assist Wolfitt, but he won't let anybody harm Shelley. This of course leads to the inevitable showdown and a few violent endings for some of the characters.

    An above average horror with plenty of science fiction elements, this has great art direction as well as some delicious camp. Certainly there are hints that Wolfitt's character died of vampires death and somehow came back to life, but twists just proved that theory. inexpensive state to see modern being introduced to Shelley when she takes on the job the castle, because she doesn't even flinch, one of the few horror heroines not to do so when confronted by a monstrous looking creature. That opens modern character to have some sympathy in his favor, and as a result, he ends up being one of the most memorable characters in this film, the other being William Devlin's prisoner who plays an important part in letting ball know the secrets of the castle. The ending it's pretty gruesome, but there were hints that the castle was going to explode or catch on fire like American International did in all their Edgar Allan Poe tales, but the writers chose a different route.
  • Pretty fair Hammer imitation, the resemblance aided considerably by the presence of screenwriter Jimmy Sangster and lovely female lead Barbara Shelley (who appeared in Hammer films like "The Gorgon" and "Dracula, Prince of Darkness")...but it's Sir Donald Wolfit who carries "Blood of the Vampire". Wolfit is no vampire, however, despite the fact that he's made up to look like Bela Lugosi: he's an unhinged scientist and prison warden who conducts grisly experiments on his inmates in an effort to cure himself of a rare blood disease. The action begins when he enlists the help of a wrongly convicted doctor who has just arrived to serve his sentence.

    Hardly a classic, but there's lots of bleak prison atmosphere, bloody mad doctor antics and lush Hammer-esque color. It's obvious that Wolfit would rather have been elsewhere, but I loved watching him summon all his dignity to soldier through a performance that must have seemed many rungs down the ladder from his beloved King Lear. You won't find a more striking example of a gifted actor making the best of things.
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