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The Vampire (1956) - Blu-ray Review

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The Vampire (1956) - Blu-ray Review

4 beersVampire bat blood in pill form.  Taken three times a day, it guarantees a high that will leave you long in the tooth.  

Picture it.  A domestic scene.  A doctor, a little freaked by what he may or not have taken, confronts his young daughter.  "What the hell are these," he roars. "These are not my migraine pills!" And, in this manner, a modern day living, breathing vampire is born.  It is of the type we've not seen before.  One small town is in for the shock of a lifetime when it is discovered that their doctor is responsible for a slew of deaths resulting from two puncture wounds made at the victim’s neck.  A vampire walks among them.

The Vampire, a b-movie from the latter half of the science fiction-obsessed 1950s, has finally arrived on blu-ray thanks to the fearless efforts by those fine freaks over at Scream Factory.  The pseudo science is pushed forward in this one while the horror elements are backgrounded.  There are a fair amount of black-and-white frights, mind you, but nothing really compares to the staged melodrama of highly stylized music and shadows.

There’s thunder AND lightning when Dr. Paul Beecher (John Paul) is accidentally given pills made from vampire bat blood by his daughter.  She thinks the pills are his new headache medicine.  Turns out, the headache is on the entire town as the good doctor suddenly finds himself with the unquenchable thirst for human blood.  And, yes, even he is stunned by the transformation that occurs past 11 at night.

Three deaths in three days and more to follow.  Ouch. 

Filmed at Hal Roach Studios in Los Angeles, this independent horror film is easily one of the best the decade had to offer audiences.  It is quick, charming, and ripe with atmosphere.  The capillaries in the victim’s bodies might be disintegrating, but this creepy little film holds up quite well.  Too bad, then, that the film was never granted wide distribution outside of its San Francisco double bill with The Monster that Challenged the World.  Audiences got robbed of this engaging horror flick.

The film co-stars Coleen Gray, Kenneth Tobey, and Lydie Reed.  It also features a tense scene of surgery as the doctor begins to swoop and swoon as he transforms into something otherworldly.  And the beastly fanged sombitch makes sure no old woman or her dog is safe from his two fangs. The kicker in the tale occurs about an hour into it when audiences finally get to see his bizarre transformation.  It's pretty solid, giving us a look at a vampire few have seen before.

The Vampire also features an exhumation of a decayed corpse with bulging eyes which is likely to creep out even the most calloused of you.  I know I jumped.  I mean, sure, digging up a body at night seems pretty outlandish, but when you are racing against the shadows and the fog as well as this picture does, what do you have to lose. 

Watch as one doctor’s Hippocratic Oath gets bruised and bloodied in director Paul Landres’ The Vampire.  This seldom seen and completely underrated horror gem is now available on blu-ray.

The Vampire (1956) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime:
75 mins
Director
: Paul Landres
Writer:
Pat Fielder
Cast:
John Beal, Coleen Gray, Kenneth Tobey
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
It claws! It drains blood!.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Oh, Will, you told me yourself these pills were from vampire bats."
Theatrical Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site: https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-horror/the-vampire
Release Date:
June1957
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 11, 2017
Synopsis: The patients are sick... but the doctor is a real sicko! When a small-town physician (John Beal) accidentally swallows experimental bat serum pills, he's soon up to his Hippocratic Oath in blood-thirsty desire! Transformed into an undead fiend, the doctor finds himself sucked into a dark and sinister world – where he must save patients by day... and suck their blood by night!

The Vampire (1956) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- April 11, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles
: English
Language:
English
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region A

Presented on 1080p from Scream Factory, The Vampire gets an enormous lift in its picture quality.  To say the film has never looked better is understatement.  Black levels are solid and deep and the grays are equally punctuated.  Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the film has been newly transferred from a fine grain print of the motion picture.  Textures are finely exposed and suits are detail rich.  The bricks in the backgrounds have variations in their fine details and skin details are nicely rendered with strong lines.  The sound is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track.   

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • None

The Vampire (1956) - Blu-ray Review