“There is no more foul or relentless enemy of man in the occult world than this dead-alive creature, spewed up from the grave.”
When her father (Holmes Herbert) is murdered, a young woman (Elizabeth Allen) relies upon an occult expert (Lionel Barrymore) and a detective (Lionel Atwill) to help solve the mystery, which may involve two local vampires (Bela Lugosi and Carroll Borland).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Bela Lugosi Films
- Detectives and Private Eyes
- Horror Films
- Lionel Atwill Films
- Lionel Barrymore Films
- Murder Mystery
- Old Dark House
- Tod Browning Films
DVD Savant accurately refers to this outing by cult director Tod Browning as a “confused mess”, labeling it “some stylish scenes in search of a movie”. The film’s notorious storyline twist makes no sense at all, especially given that the suspenseful denouement could have easily occurred without the major plot upheaval; to avoid spoilers, I won’t say more here, though this severely limits my ability to say much more about the film. With that said, James Wong Howe’s cinematography is stunningly atmospheric throughout, and the “haunted” castle inhabited by Lugosi and Borland (the latter a clear inspiration for Vampira) is genuinely spooky. Mark of the Vampire is ultimately a visual treat that deserves a much better vehicle. Worth a look, but be prepared for narrative disappointment.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Effectively spooky sets
- Some memorably haunting imagery
- James Wong Howe’s cinematography
No, though most film fanatics (and fans of Tod Browning) will likely be curious to check out this follow-up to Dracula (1931). Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.