Mark of the Vampire (1935)

“We must all die. There’s nothing terrible about death, but to live on after death, a soul earth-bound, a vampire. You don’t wish any such fate for your beloved.” Essentially a murder mystery masquerading as a horror movie, Mark of the Vampire features a great twist ending and was directed by Tod Browning (Freaks) – a remake of his long-lost 1927 silent film London After Midnight (itself based on Browning’s short story “The Hypnotist”), which starred Lon Chaney. After Sir Karell Borotyn (Holmes Herbert) is discovered murdered with bite marks on his throat, all signs point to it being the work of vampires, particularly the creepy Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his equally eerie daughter Luna (Carroll Borland). Overzealous vampire expert “Professor Zelen” (Lionel Barrymore) is called in to investigate. The excellent supporting cast includes Elizabeth Allan as “Irena Borotyn,” Lionel Atwill as “Inspector Neumann,” Jean Hersholt as “Baron Otto von Zinden,” Ivan F. Simpson as “Jan” and Donald Meek as “Dr. J. Doskil.” Mark of the Vampire is a hell of a lot of fun and breezes by with a running time of 60 minutes (the geniuses at MGM reportedly edited out approximately 15 minutes of objectionable material). I love the scenes in the spooky cemetery (the fog machine is working overtime!) and the haunted castle (full of bats and other creatures), especially when Luna flies across the room! The working title of the film was reportedly Vampires of Prague. Borland (1914-94) garnered a cult following based entirely on her role as Luna. She only appeared in a handful of other films, including the truly awful horror film Scalps (1983). Her novel, Countess Dracula, was published in 1994.

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