Mark of the Vampire (1935)

Genres - Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film, Gothic Film  |   Release Date - Apr 26, 1935 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 59 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Patrick Legare

Director Tod Browning's 1935 murder mystery Mark of the Vampire is essentially a lesser remake of two of his earlier films: 1927's Lon Chaney silent London After Midnight and 1931's Dracula with Bela Lugosi. Originally titled The Vampires of Prague, the film is most notable for its stunning conclusion, which reveals that the various murders being blamed on the supernatural have been committed by a more natural source. The bloodsucker father and daughter, played by Lugosi and Carol Borland, are given minimal screen time, but provide the film's best chills and appear to be the inspiration for Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space. This picture originally insinuated that Lugosi's vampire had an incestuous affair with Borland that resulted in a murder-suicide, leaving them both undead. This explains the mysterious bullet wound on the side of Lugosi's head throughout the film. However, MGM was wary after Browning's Freaks spawned great controversy, so cuts were made to ensure that Mark of the Vampire was safe for public consumption. The barely feature-length production looks rather stagey and the special effects are typical of the time (bats on strings, fake rats, etc.), but Browning's atmospheric style and the great cast, including Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, and Lionel Atwill, makes this good entertainment. Cinematographer James Wong Howe shot test footage of Rita Hayworth for Borland's part.