Sunday, 12 September 2010

Atom Age Vampire (1960)

The first thing to be said about Atom Age Vampire (Seddok, l'erede di Satana) is that it’s a bit of a stretch to describe it as a vampire movie except in the broadest metaphorical sort of way. The second thing to be said is that it’s not a very good movie. The third thing to be said is that it’s still a good deal of fun.

Beautiful night-club performer Jeanette is horribly disfigured in a car accident after breaking up with her boyfriend. When she sees what’s happened to her face she decides suicide is the only answer but as luck would have it a mad scientist hears of her plight and thinks she’d be an ideal subject on whom to test his new discovery. His assistant spirits Jeanette out of the hospital and into Professor Levin’s laboratory.

The professor has been working on Derma 28, a derivative of Derma 25. Derma 28 has the promise of restoring practically any kind of cell damage and he believes it can restore Jeanette’s beauty. Which it does, but unfortunately the miracle treatment turns out to be temporary. The Professor has become totally besotted by the glamorous blonde Jeanette and is determined to repeat the treatment. The awkward thing is that Derma 28 requires glands from a living human but such is his passion for Jeanette that murder seem a small price to pay in order to restore her looks and gain her favour.

Of course his assistant Monique isn’t all that pleased. She and the professor are lovers but now she fears she is losing him.

The plot starts to become really bizarre when, for reasons that remain unclear to this viewer, the professor performs some kind of atomic treatment in himself that turns him into a hideous bloodthirsty monster.

The movie's debt to George Franju's horror masterpiece Eyes without a Face is obvious but this is no mere copy. It adds all sorts of weirdness, none of which makes sense but if you’re hung up on boring concepts like plot coherence what are you doing watching a 1960s Italian sci-fi/horror flick?

The public domain copy I saw was very badly dubbed in English so it’s difficult to judge the acting performances. And the picture quality was pretty dodgy as well so it’s equally difficult to make a judgment on the cinematography. The transformation scenes though are done surprisingly well.

With the English dubbing the movie can only be regarded as an exercise in camp, which is fine by me since I like that sort of thing. There’s enough amusing scientific techno-babble to keep me happy and I love the way they keep bringing in the idea of atomic energy even though it has nothing whatever to do with the plot.

This is one of those movies that if it ever got a decent DVD release with good image quality and with subtitles might turn out to be a much better movie than it appears to be in its present form (or it might not). As it stands though it’s a thoroughly enjoyable romp if you’re in the mood for some B-movie horror silliness.

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