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“The Vampire’s Ghost”

Released by Republic Pictures

Directed by Lesley Selander

6 out of 10

By Vic

Director Lesley Salander (Lassie, The Lone Ranger) changes pace and style to helm a very Universal Horror style Vampire movie that is only 59 minutes long but seems more like 2 hours and 59 minutes long. It’s not all that bad though but for a horror movie steeped in some reliable, old school conventions it shouldn’t feel this slow. I suppose that Leigh Brackett (The Empire Strikes Back) does a capable job spinning a Vampiric tale that doesn’t really involve any ghosts and has a very lackluster Vampire as the lead.

The goofy looking but talented John Abbott (Gigi, Gambit, Star Trek) plays Fallon, a rougish and bored owner of a seedy and run down Bar in a distant African Plantation Port. It seems he loves the night life and takes just about every gambling customer for all their money. If you have a gripe with him and the crooked cards he plays then you’d better just let it go and say goodbye to your funds.  Fallon easily overpowers or mesmerizes any goon that has any beef with him and his ability to win every draw of the cards. Plain and simple. Adele Mara (Sands of Iwo Jima) plays his consort and companion who shares the saloon with him.

She supplies us with an complicated saloon dance that is enticing and sexy. It is one of the set pieces of a movie that is not very long at all. Mara is alluring in the role though and becomes a bit jealous with Julie played by Peggy Stewart whom Fallon has his eye on. Charles Gordon plays Roy who becomes entangled with Fallon during a bar brawl.

Fallon and Roy become friends (Somewhat) and when Fallon is attacked during an uprising by some of the native men he is forced to hypnotize Roy into keeping his immortality a secret and he uses Roy to help him recoup using the moonlight which I though was an interesting twist. Vampires and voo doo is another unique twist. The natives, it seems have the right idea about Fallon. He is an un-dead monster who has the village and plantation in his evil grip.

The equivalent of the internet at this Port seems to be the constant drums that are being banged on. It seems that everyone gets their news and information this way. By loud drums being banged on all the time. Oh well. Roy gets feverish but a trip to church with the local priest cures him of all his ills and his spell is broken. The story has to move quickly here since by now we have like, ten minutes left in the movie. So, Roy learns of Fallon’s plans for Julie and tries to stop him from his deadly intentions.

There are no bats, no vampire teeth, no fog just jungle settings, a nice large saloon set, some cliffs and an abandoned shrine at the end. The sets at times do evoke images of some of the more obscure Universal Horror titles like the post Karloff Mummy films. There is atmosphere and good camera work but it drags a bit whenever we have to listen to Fallon blab on about how immortality can suck and so on.

Plus it literally takes forever for Roy to fall under Fallon’s spell. So, for a quick fix of the old school supernatural you could do worse but the film, considered under-rated, seem more like an episode of the Twilight Zone or Thriller with Boris Karloff. In this regard the movie actually may seem like a notable entry. Unfortunately, the pace and lack of chills and suspense do it in but not terribly so. Is it under-rated? Maybe. Is it a unique and different take on vampires? Absolutely. Currently on Netflix Instant Streaming.