When the film begins It’s not immediately clear who they are, and it seems more significant that the town their driving through looks deserted, but Dr. Carter (John Hoyt) and his daughter, Dolores (Kathleen Crowley) are on their way to visit a sick patient. There’s an illness going around that’s infecting young girls and most of the victims are ending up dead.
It’s not a coincidence that Curse of the Undead opens with the Carter family. Instead of focusing on the victims and their families, Curse of the Undead is more interested in following the people who are trying to combat the illness. These include a local sheriff (Edward Binns) and the preacher, Dan (Eric Fleming), who’s engaged to Dolores.
Written by husband-and-wife team, Edward and Mildred Dein, and directed by Edward, Curse of the Undead doesn’t have any big-name actors but those willing to take a chance on the film will find a lot to love in this horror western.
When Dr. Carter shows up dead, Dolores and her brother, Tim (Jimmy Murphy), are ready to blame Buffer (Bruce Gordon), a local nasty who’s been trying to stronghold them into giving up their land. Drake Robey (Michael Pate) is the hired gun who agrees to kill Buffer, but there’s more to Drake than meets the eye. While he might look like your average cowboy – which is one of the things that sets Curse of the Undead apart from other vampire movies and helps sell this film as a melding of genres – he’s not being upfront about his past.
What’s great about Drake is his origin story isn’t a carbon copy of Dracula’s. Edward and Mildred have fun applying gunslinger mythology to vampire mythology, and while it’s not uncommon these days for a vampire to seek redemption, Curse of the Undead feels ahead of the curve in terms of painting a conflicted vampire who’s also presented as a possible love interest. Werewolves like Lon Chaney Jr.’s Larry Talbot were getting that kind of arc, but not so much vampires.
While not all commentaries are equally engrossing, they usually all take the same form, which is why film historian, Tom Weaver’s, commentary for Curse of the Undead is a mini revolution. Instead of reading from interviews Weaver conducted himself, as well as interviews he found with the cast and crew in other publications, Weaver has actors recreate them, so it’s not just his voice that’s heard on the track. Weaver also incorporates some sound bites from other vampire films, as well as some other critics, and because he has a copy of the script, he’s able to point out which lines were cut from the finished movie. In the trailer, for example, Dan’s reaction to hearing a woman scream is different from the take that was used in the movie. Weaver also draws attention to the similarities between Curse of the Undead and The Vampire’s Ghost, and even makes the commentary interactive by asking listeners a question, and then waiting until the end to answer.
Curse of the Undead is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now from Kino Lorber.
When the film begins It’s not immediately clear who they are, and it seems more significant that the town theirCOMICONRead More