Sunday, 3 May 2015

May Sucks: Grave of the Vampire (1972)

Grave of the Vampire (1972)
Director: John Hayes
Starring: William Smith, Michael Pataki, and Lyn Peters
Running Time: 95 min

  I've wanted to watch this one for a while now because there is an interesting twist to the film, or at least I think that it's interesting that a vampire impregnates a woman.  That's right, in this film a creature of night rapes a woman and gets her pregnant with an undead baby that grows inside her stomach.(?)  How this would work is fascinating to me and so off I go to visit the grave of the vampire!

  It is a dark night and Leslie and her boyfriend decide to ditch a party to go to their usual make out spot, which happens to be the local graveyard, kinky.  However after they arrive, the tomb of Count Croft opens up and Croft rises from the grave! Mwahahahahahah.  Croft wanders over to Leslies' boyfriends car and attacks them!  Croft pulls Leslies' boyfriend out of the car and throws him around like a rag doll.  Eventually, Croft impales him, sort of, on a flat tombstone and quenches his hundreds of years thirst by draining the young man of his blood.  But that is not all, once he has a few drinks in him, Croft wanders over to a petrified Leslie and pulls her down into a grave to have his way with her.  Damn you horny vampire!  Then just as the sun starts peaking, Croft leaves Leslie in the grave and runs through the closest neighbourhood and breaks into someones house to hide in their basement, like an undead racoon or a skunk.
  That morning, the police rescue Leslie thanks to a tip for a drunk hobo.  Somehow, Lieutenant Panzer seems to be aware of the vampire angle, even though this is the first one, in this murder/rape case but never explains why.  He speaks with Leslie at the hospital to get more clues but she has been to traumatized to really be any help.  Time goes by, I think, and Leslie is being released from the hospital but the doctors have discovered one more thing about that awful night, That vampire bastard got her pregnant.  Unfortunately, the doctor wants to abort the baby because it shows no life signs and the doctor claims that its like a little parasite growing inside her.  But Leslie refuses because she believes that its' her dead boyfriends child and because sexual education was so terrible back in the 60's and 70's, she has no idea that it was the vampire's child.  She storms out of the doctor's office with her new best friend, who she met in the psych ward and vows never to see a doctor or real with medicine again.  Take that medicine!
  Eventually, Leslie has the baby and she doesn't understand why her baby look so gray and why it won't drink milk like other babies that she's read about.  She finally figures out that it's because this gray weird baby only drinks blood and has a slight dislike for sunlight.  More time goes by and the baby grows up in a montage and when it's an adult named James, he swears on his mothers' deathbed that he will find this vampire rapist and destroy him, even if it means searching the ends of the Earth!
  Meanwhile, Croft seems to be laying low with the odd nibble here and there and has changed his name to Dr. Lockwood.  Also, he's been teaching a night class at the local community college about mythology, which surprise, surprise James has just signed up for!  James, who looks about 40, becomes friends with the cute middle aged woman, Anita, who is sitting beside him in the class and her roommate Anna.  They have a lively discussion about vampires and a particular vampire named Croft.  Anita and James tell Dr. Lockwood about this rare book that they've both read, reveals that Croft is this ancient vampire, whose wife died and now he shifts his identity to feast on people and get away with it.  Dr. LOckwood seems very interested in this book and in Anne, who resembles his dead wife and feels that he must have them both!  Will James ever find out that his night school teacher is the villainous vampire/deadbeat dad he's been searching for all his life or will this secret go to the grave for both of them?  

  This film is a little bit out there but its' an amusingly bad movie.  Director/co-writer John Hayes seems to be all over the place with this story.  First it's about the vampire and the incident at the graveyard, introducing Lt. Panzer and his search for this creature of the night.  Then the story shifts gears, drops Panzer and the vampire, and focuses on Leslie raising a vampire child.  Then she dies,  soooo, the story shifts aaaagain and focuses on the son searching for his father/mother's assailant to get revenge.  The story keeps stopping and starting again, introducing new characters and story lines, that don't go anywhere.  Which can be frustrating and amusing for someone watching this film.  Luckily, it finally stays with the son, James but even the set up for the end as the same issues. 
 Which is the ending follows the same jerky pattern as the rest of the film, introducing a number of new characters that nobody cares about and is build on an incredible weak premise.  After Anne discovers a body in her shower and she is almost attack by who she & the audience can clearly see through the clear shower stall is Dr. Lockwood, her and James still go to his seance party with a collection of other new people, not knowing that he's the vampire.  WTF!  It's really ridiculous and must have been shot first before a series of script changes that must have been continuous throughout the shoot, by the looks of things.

  What was good about this film, well good and B-movie good is incredible different, giving this film a B is also really stretching here.  I think Michael Pataki (Dracula's Dog, Dead & Buried) does an alright job playing Croft.  He gives a good performance considering what he has been given.  Same goes for William Smith (Maniac Cop, Piranha), who plays the James Eastman character.  He's not calling it in but there isn't any real stretch of his talents in this film, except maybe in the end.
  There are trickles of blood and gore throughout the film but the ending is probably the most violent in the film and they finally get down to some vampire bizness.  Again, the ending is awkward with almost an entirely different cast of characters that we have no emotional tie to but at least they get slaughtered real good.  Hayes really vamps up, no pun intended, the show down between the main characters and it's an alright battle, although it is confusing at the very end.  But the whole film is like this, so why stop right?

  I think I was expecting more from this film but it wasn't that bad overall.  The concept is interesting, but never quite gets explained, the story is kind of all over the place but finally focuses in, kind of, on a character three quarters of the way through the movie and the acting is, well you can tell that it's acting.  So if you're looking for a vampire flick that is more amusing than terrifying and you dig a good B, leaning to C, film, then this little time waster is for you.

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