Atom Age Vampire (1960)

“There’s no doubt of it! Yes, she’s disfigured forever! Like a cancer that’s beyond control — like leprosy!”

Atom Age Vampire Poster

Synopsis:
Distraught that her boyfriend (Sergio Fantoni) is leaving her because she won’t give up her job as a nightclub dancer, a woman (Susanne Loret) crashes her car and is facially disfigured. She is discovered by a scientist (Albert Lupo) and his loyal assistant (Franca Parisi), who are determined to utilize an experimental new skin cure on her; but when the treatment proves to be temporary, Lupo — who has fallen hopelessly in love with Loret — resorts to monstrous means to keep her looking beautiful.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “sleazy, dubbed horror film” is an “awful picture” but “fun to watch”, and points out how “perversely exciting” it was for him as a young boy to see “scarred Loret displaying her stacked body in skimpy underwear”. Naturally, my own take on this mash-up of Eyes Without a Face (1960) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde lacks Peary’s fond memories of it as “one of the first horror films to really exploit sex”. While it is indeed sleazy, terribly dubbed, poorly acted, and somewhat schizophrenic in its many (cliched) narrative strands, I don’t agree with Peary that it’s AWFUL; it’s often creatively shot (see stills below) and reasonably suspenseful for a low-budget thriller, with plenty of campy dialogue. Most humorous of all is how gorgeous Loret — evoking Veronica Lake with her peekaboo blonde wave of hair — survives a near-fatal car crash with facial scarring conveniently on just one side of her face, and no other obvious impairments; her suicidal distress feels somewhat out of proportion.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some creative direction
    Atom Age Vampire Direction
  • Atmospheric cinematography
    Atom Age Vampire Cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a look simply for its cult/camp appeal. Available as a public domain video here.

Links:

One Response to “Atom Age Vampire (1960)”

  1. A once-must, as an enjoyably bad movie.

    I say ‘enjoyably’ in this case because, as I rewatched it, I was taken with the fact that it stands apart as far as bad movies go. The average bad movie is one that leans toward being incompetent in, usually, a number of ways. ‘AAV’ is hardly incompetent. It’s wacky, excessive, and it strains its logic – but I think the film knows what it is and what it’s doing.

    Of course, ultimately, it’s still bad. Sometimes laughably so. But it’s reasonably well-constructed and parts of it are (surprisingly) well-written.

    I also happen to think Alberto Lupo is a hunk (in a deliciously Ugo Tognazzi sort of way) – so that made the revisit…dreamy…for me. 😉

    Also…I love that the film contains a mambo sequence in a nightclub. I’m in favor of almost any film that has a mambo sequence in a nightclub.

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