Monday, October 09, 2006

31 Days of Halloween - Day 9 Movie

Thick with atmosphere, thin on plot, "Mark of the Vampire" (1935) is a remake of the legendary lost silent film "London After Midnight" with Lionel Barrymore and Bela Lugosi dividing the roles that were both played by Lon Chaney in the original. What begins as a seeming murder by vampires becomes a very talky mystery with a twist. I won't go into more for those who haven't seen it.

I've watched this movie a number of times in the past, and each time find myself getting impatient with the movie, which says something when the running time is barely more than an hour. As I mentioned in an earlier post, director Tod Browning clearly was only at home in silent movies, and was unable to successfully transition to sound. Here, he manages better than he did with "Dracula" (though, again, he strangely decides to include opossums in the vampires' crypt. At least he decided against reprising the armadillo), but his pacing is tedious. This movie could easily have been half as long as it was without losing anything.

On the movie's side, as I said, the atmosphere is great, from the almost constant groaning sounds on the soundtrack to the foggy graveyards full of twisted trees, owls, bats, and eerie vampires. If only the chatty, slow, plot were worthy of the decor.

1 comment:

Smurfwreck said...

I was surprised how baddly Dracula held up for me. I watched it recently after not having seen it for like 15 years and I had trouble sitting through it.

I think the only Browning movie I've liked so far is Freaks, though I've yet to see any of his silent films. I wish the biography that David J. Skal did was still in print...