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Thursday, 12 July 2012

Mark of the Vampire - Director birthday... Tod Browning

Director birthday... Tod Browning

Tod Browning was born on 12 July 1880 in Louisville, Kentucky. 
Having worked in both the silent and talking film era, Browning is best known for the horror films he directed in the 1930s, such as 'Dracula' (1931) and the controversial 'Freaks' (1932).

The controversy surrounding 'Freaks' caused the film to be a commercial failure, and as a result destroyed Browning's career, allowing him to make only 4 more films. Browning died on 6 October 1962 at age 82.

Recommended viewing

  • The Unknown (1927)
  • Dracula (1931)
  • Freaks (1932)
  • Mark of the Vampire (1935)
  • The Devil Doll (1936)
  • Miracles for Sale (1939)

Mark of the Vampire (1935)

"This vampire business, it has given me a great idea for a new act. Luna, in this new act I will be the vampire. Did you watch me? I gave all of me. I was greater than any real vampire." - Bela Lugosi (as Count Mora)

'Mark of the Vampire' is an intriguing 1935 horror mystery (with a very surprising ending) directed by Tod Browning, and starring Lionel Barrymore, Bela Lugosi, Elizabeth Allan, Lionel Atwill, Jean Hersholt and Donald Meek.

After Sir. Karell Borotyn (played by Holmes Herbert) is found dead, drained of blood with two punctures on his neck, Dr. Doskil (played by Meek) concludes he has been touched with the mark of the vampire, setting the town into a panic. Matters are made worse with reports of bats flying around at night. Borotyn's friend Baron Otto (played by Hersholt) is convinced the gothic Count Mora (played by Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (played by Carroll Borland) are responsible. When it is feared Borotyn's daughter Irena (played by Allan) could be the next victim, vampire expert Professor Zelen (played by Barrymoore) is sent to investigate and protect Irena. Add to this skeptical Police Inspector Neumann (played by Atwill) and we have all the elements to make a classic 1930s vampire film.

Watch the trailer featuring specially filmed footage of Bela Lugosi:

Scenes cut and lost forever

'Mark of the Vampire' originally ran for 75-80 minutes, however a number of scenes were required to be cut in order for the film to meet censorship standards. Sadly the missing scenes have been lost.
A number of the actors appearing in the deleted scenes are still listed in the final credits but are not seen in the film. Although the audio commentary on the DVD of the film refers to a number of comic scenes which were removed, it is rumoured some of the deleted scenes alluded to an incestuous relationship Count Mora was having with this daughter Luna, and Count Mora's eventual suicide. A bullet wound can be seen on Count Mora's temple.   

Did you know...

  • The film was originally titled "Vampires from Prague"
  • This film is a remake of  Tod Browning's 1927 silent film "London After Midnight" - a few details have been changed
  • Large South American bats were imported for the film
  • The film was banned in Sweden by the Swedish Censorship Board

Closing remarks

Although considered to be very tame for today's standards, the film was quite horrific during the 1930s. This is a horror film for the entire family - the movie poster and trailer are scarier than the film itself.
 Despite only having one line at the end of the film, Bela Lugosi's spoofing himself as Dracula is a lot of fun. I quite like this film, and although it's not that scary, it tends to be something I watch each year as part of a Halloween movie marathon, particularly because it's very short (approx. 65 mins).

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