Movie Critique - Mark of the Vampire

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A camouflaged supernatural movie with a twist on the vampires is a minor gem in the world of horror classics.

Mark of the Vampire is a 1935 American horror film starring Lionel Barrymore, Bela Lugosi, Elizabeth Allan, Lionel Atwill and Jean Hersholt among others. Directed by Tod Browning and co-produced by Browning and E. J. Mannix.

Count Mora (portrayed by Bela Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (portrayed by Carroll Borland) come under suspicion when Sir Karell Borotyn is found murdered. Baron Otto Von Zinden (portrayed by Jean Hersholt) and Dr. Doskil (portrayed by Donald Meek) think Sir Borotyn was killed by a vampire. Professor Zelen (portrayed by Lionel Barrymore), an expert on vampires comes to their aid in uncovering the truth. 

The film has been described by everyone as the talkie remake of Browning's lost 1927 film London After Midnight. Screenplay for this film was given by Guy Endore and Bernard Schubert.

Lugosi's Count Mora has a bullet wound on his temple but there is no explanation given to it. He doesn’t have any dialogues until the very end. This is the second film that Lugosi portrays a vampire which was directed by Browning. The earlier film was the 1931 film Dracula.

This is film debut for Carroll Borland, who plays the part of Count Mora's daughter, Luna. Even she doesn’t have any dialogues until the end. Lionel Barrymore as Professor Zelen is as usual at his best. 

Donald Meek as  Dr. Dokil is a pleasure to watch. I remember him as Nick Carter's sidekick Bartholomew, the B-Man, in Nick Carter movies series with Walter Pidgeon as Nick Carter

A camouflaged supernatural movie with a twist on the vampires is a minor gem in the world of horror classics. Despite Lugosi not having any dialogues through the entire film, his expressions and silence gave a certain chill that perhaps the dialogues wouldn’t have. Quite enjoyable horror flick! 

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. Jessie Ralph is credited as a midwife. But she is seen at the beginning of the film collecting firewood in a cemetery. The one who plays midwife is Louise Emmons but she doesn’t get credit for her role.

b. If everyone were revealed to be just actors then how does Count Mora and Luna turn to bat and back to humans? Same thing with them being able to pass through cobwebs without breaking them - if they were mere actors they shouldn’t be able to do so. Was there special effects used by Professor Zelen to keep with his plot? Or somewhere along the line director Browning removed a few scenes thus disconnecting these?

c. If the Professor and the Baron are sitting on the steps which they have come down from, how is there a reflection of the candle on his left hand while the candle is in the right hand?

d. The butler Jan is sometimes pronounced as "Jan" when it's actual pronunciation is "Yan".


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