Sunday, October 11, 2009


Dracula meets Gidget meets Shadow of a Doubt on a small budget in this film made by a director who apparently didn't care that most of his after-midnight scenes look like they’re taking place at high noon. A band of men arrive at a Transylvanian cemetery at dawn to stake a vampire (Francis Lederer), but his coffin is empty. Lederer kills a man who was on his way to California to stay with relatives and takes over his identity. When he arrives in suburban Carleton, he is viewed by his cousin and her teenage daughter (Norma Eberhardt) as a little stand-offish and eccentric (for example, he's never around in the daytime), but they, especially Eberhardt who finds him exotically fascinating, make an effort to get to know him. Lederer stalks a blind girl (Virginia Vincent) who tells Eberhardt that the nights seem to be getting darker. Sure enough, she winds up dead, or more to the point, undead. Enter John Wengraf, a European Van Helsing-figure on Lederer's trail, and we all know where the story goes from here. I wrote in my notes that this movie should be called Dracula Goes to Mayberry, and oddly enough, the name of the family he's visiting is Mayberry! The acting is strictly second-string except for Lederer, who is OK but adds nothing new to the Dracula routine. The handsome Ray Stricklyn, who was 30 but looks about 18 here, is Eberhardt's boyfriend, but doesn’t have much to do. Eberhardt's relationship with Lederer reminded me of the niece and uncle of Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT. The bright nighttime scenes are truly distracting. The black and white film turns to color for five seconds during a climactic blood-gushing scene. [TCM]

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