Friday, December 4, 2009

La huella macabra (1963) [filmed in 1961]

... aka: Macabre Mark, The

Directed by:
Alfredo B. Crevenna

I had to watch this one in Spanish - it has never been English dubbed or subbed for any kind of release outside of Spanish-speaking countries - so please bear with me as I try to fumble my way through the plot. (For the record, while I do understand some Spanish, it's not good enough to understand everything.) A man and a caretaker enter a cemetery and open up a tomb. Inside the coffin, the rotten-faced corpse (Eric del Castillo) is lying there alive and awake (!) He rises, hypnotizes the caretaker, forces him to take his place in the tomb and then tries on a couple of human face masks the other guy (who's actually his servant) has brought him. He, a vampire named Count Brankovan, selects the favorite one (and is now played by the handsome Guillermo Murray) and then resurrects his little vampire son Erik (Humberto Dupeyrón) with some kind of serum; letting him feast on a woman he's kidnapped and tied up. The two return to their mansion home along with the servant, where they keep two white-haired albino robot men (?) in frozen chambers just in case things get out of hand.

Now I need to stop here for a second to point out that this is a follow-up to Rostro Infernal (aka The Incredible Face of Dr. B) and has many of the same characters. Now I may be mistaken, but I believe Brankovan - with the new face and identity - is trying to pass himself off as the brother of the vampire killed in the previous film when in fact he's actually the same guy. He seems to want revenge on certain characters here; giving a professor a heart attack by pointing some gadget that looks like a pen light at him. While the count is cool, collected and doesn't want to attract too much attention, the son (who is able to transform into a bat) is constantly blood-hungry and has little control over his vampire tendencies. There are two attractive women who get involved with the duo; Vicky (Rosa Carmina), who seems to be playing surrogate mother to the boy and may be a vampire herself, and Berta (Elsa Cárdenas), the dead professor's distraught daughter. Jorge (Ramón Bugarini), who is love with Berta, is pissed off that she's cozying up to the Count and has been staying in his home. An obligatory police inspector (Jaime Fernández) is snooping around. And what would one of these things be without a gratuitous wrestling match that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot? This one's got one of those, too!

There are some genuine surprises here (especially the fate of the vampire boy) and enough kooky touches to get things entertaining throughout. I've seen it listed on various websites as a horror-comedy, but the whole thing is played completely seriously. The performances are good (Murray played another bloodsucking count in The World of the Vampires), it's well-made and nicely photographed in black-and-white. I haven't been able to track down the first movie yet, but it might help to fill in some gaps once I do. Neither was released until two years after they were made and I've read elsewhere there was a bit of controversy surrounding the portrayal of the child character.


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