I was home. In bed. In my jammies. In pain. Periods of moaning, spaced with crying like a little girl. Just five days post-surgery to repair a couple of cervical (neck) discs that were pressing on my spinal cord. It was an expensive operation and four months of recuperation—or the possibility of paralysis.
An easy choice.
As luck would have it, the surgery had taken place on my twentieth wedding anniversary—October 26, 2015.
Not a great way to celebrate, let me tell you.
Anyway, just five days later, October 31st . . . it was Halloween.
Far from attending a nice Autumn party or taking the grandkids around the neighborhood to collect buckets of teeth-rotting candy, I was considering actually getting out of bed and venturing into the living room, where my dear wife was watching TV.
She had been a trooper, taking first-class care of me—cooking, cleaning, and doing one-hundred percent of the driving and grocery shopping—no small thing.
Not to mention putting up with my crap.
Anyway, I was feeling a little better and thought I could sit up for maybe twenty minutes or so.
It turned out to be a lot longer than that.
My sweetie had a movie on, and best of all, it was a Halloween movie.
It took me about two minutes to get thoroughly hooked.
It was called . . . Mark of the Vampire. And it starred some of my favorite actors of the golden era of horror, which was 1935.
Leading the stellar cast was the two Lionels.
Lionel Barrymore and Lionel Atwill . . . masters both.
Not to mention that quintessential artist of Horror films, Bela Lugosi.
The storyline goes like this:
Sir Karell Borotyn (Holmes Herbert) is found murdered in his house, with two tiny pinpoint wounds on his neck. The attending doctor, Dr. Doskil (Donald Meek), and Sir Karell’s friend Baron Otto (Jean Hersholt) are convinced that he was killed by a vampire. They suspect Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (Carroll Borland), while the Prague police inspector (Lionel Atwill) refuses to believe them.
Borotyn’s daughter Irena (Elizabeth Allen) is the count’s next target. Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore), an expert on vampires and the occult, arrives in order to prevent her death. At the same time, secrets are revealed surrounding the circumstances of Sir Karell’s death. (from Wikipedia)
Sounds like a pretty straightforward vampire tale of the era, but don’t be fooled. There are twists and turns aplenty. For a little while when I was watching, I wondered if the movie was just that quirky, or perhaps it was the effects of my post-surgical Percocet prescription.
At one point, it seemed as though I were viewing two completely different movies.
Disconcerting, to say the least.
Suffice it to say (without giving away the rather delightful ending) the movie was ahead of its time, and innovative for the day. It would begin something of a trend.
There are a few wonderful things to look for. Things that would never make muster in a modern-day movie. Mark of the Vampire was a talkie, made from an older silent movie called, London after Midnight (1927) In that production, Count Mora was the victim of a suicide, remorseful over an incestuous relationship between himself and Luna.
He shot himself in the head.
Deemed inappropriate for the era in which it was made, the cause of death (along with the incest) was removed. Inexplicably, the Count still has a bullet wound to his temple.
Ed Wood would have loved that.
Anyway, if you can find this wonderful gem of a movie playing anywhere on TV or on-demand this Halloween, you won’t find a more entertaining couple of hours anywhere.
Even if you’re not on pain meds with a bum neck.
Thanks for reading. We’ll be back in a few with another Chapter of THE RECKONING. Getting real close to the end now. Meanwhile, have a wonderful Halloween!
And don’t eat too much candy . . .
Dumb Joke(s) of the Day: