Sunday, August 8, 2010

Living Dead and Deader: Cave of the Living Dead

The Living Dead theme has not panned out so well this month, but maybe things will turn around.  Here are the facts for you.  In 1964, Akos Rathonyi (yes, him) made Cave of the Living Dead aka Night of the Vampires.  It was released in the United States under the former title by Universal.  It's about vampires.  That's about it.  I guess I could go into a lot more detail...but I won't.  It's a Gothic horror movie in all of the meanings of the world.  Oddly, it is set in modern times and constantly faces the intrusion of modern times (of nearly 50 years ago).  Is this a unique theme or a plot point that goes nowhere?  Here are vampires and not zombies, I guess.  Get out your death certificates for my review of...

Our tale begins with a detective being pulled away from vacation by a series of murders.  He drives out into the country as the credits roll, constantly getting in his way.  Come on- crash already!  He gets there, but runs into a problem when his car stalls.  Apparently, this is a common occurrence in this area.  As we learn, every time a murder takes place, the power in the area goes out.  Wow, that's random.  I sure hope that they never bother to really explain this plot point in any way!  Thankfully for him, a beautiful woman comes along and helps him out, telling him where an inn is at.  That night, the maid at said inn goes to bed before he arrives.  He gets drawn in with conversation and good soup.  This proves important as a shadowy figure wanders into town and kills the girl in her room...off-camera.  Yeah, it's one of those movies.  The next day, he is awoken by the cops, who think that he is the killer.  Sadly, these guys are actually *comedy* cops and fall for the 'look over there' bit before being corrected.  We also meet the village's doctor, who declares all of the deaths to be heart attacks.  Man, you must live in Detroit!

As time goes on, our hero learns that some evil is afoot.  On the outskirts of town, a scientist is doing some sort of vague experiments.  Quick- he's the bad guy!  Oh right, I'm not supposed to know that yet.  He has the woman from earlier doing research with him and his black butler to...well, be racist.  As a side note, it must have been hard to make it as a black guy in German films from the 1960s!  There are some weird people in town as well, including the way-too-friendly inn owner, a weird lady who does magic and a villager who really, really wants to fight.  So that's how Finlay got his start.  Hmm, I wonder how many people got that joke?  Anyhow, he makes a big fuss about our hero even being in town, so much so that he wants to fight him at every turn.  Wow, two German Red Herrings in a week- nice!  After seeing the weird, old lady, our hero is convinced that only one thing could be behind the murders: vampires!  Well, it's called Night of the Vampires, so...maybe.  Back in the city, our hero's bosses get flack over a killing taking place after the guy go there.  Another man rightfully points out that he had only been there for about two hours when it happened.  Thank you, logic.

As the story builds towards a close, a lot of shit goes down.  The police discover the body of the woman from earlier is missing and go looking for it.  It eventually shows up in a well, only to disappear again.  So you can get rid of a body, but not a bomb?  Our hero ends up staying in the castle with the scientist, since he suspects that something is up with him.  As it turns out, there is.  Of course, he also has the hots for the lady scientist too.  He tries to learn the truth about what is going on, which does not make the villagers happy.  They want the vampires to be a local lore and not to become news...or something.  For whatever reason, our hero fights Red Herring and wins.  Wow, that was pointless.  Eventually, the lady scientist tries to leave, since her work is done.  He locks her in the basement with the vampires...but she is found by our hero and let out.  Huh?  They go back in and find the creatures, but put a stop to them with very little effort.  By the way, the scientist is a vampire and...he dies too.  Why did the power go out again?  Oh well...The End.

This movie is...alright.  It doesn't really do anything all that interesting or bad.  The plot is simple enough: vampires are loose in a village.  The idea of setting one in modern times and with modern sensibilities is an interesting one.  Sadly, the movie doesn't really do anything with it.  It's like 'we have an interesting idea...but let's just do what's been done 600 times before instead.'  Don't get me wrong- the movie is competent, is paced well and is entertaining.  The problem is that it just has so little of unique value to actually make it stand out amongst the 1,000,000 other vampire films out there.  If Hammer or Universal did not exist, this movie would be an easy recommendation.  As it is, it's one for the obscure horror fan or the completist.  If you have seen a lot of vampire movies, you've seen this one too.  Even still, it does have a certain, Gothic charm to it.

Up next, Klaus is back with a movie that came out of England.  Can a snake out-class Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed at the same time?  Stay tuned...

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