Gather round, gentle reader, because Scarina is going to tell you a story. It’s about a man who is half-mortal and half-vampire and who uses his powers to destroy vampires.
No, not that guy! Although today’s movie, Grave of the Vampire (1974) surely inspired Blade, what with its elaborate action sequences and, ok I can’t say that with a straight face. You see, Grave of the Vampire was an odd, meandering movie that wasn’t really scary but actually pretty funny. I guess that means you failed if you’re trying to make a horror movie. I still kind of like the movie, if only because it managed to keep my attention and make me laugh.
This is what happens. Leslie and Paul are two insipidly, CONSTANTLY giggling young people. They drive to the local cemetary for some heavy petting. It’s nice that the groundskeeper of the cemetary keeps it nicely stocked with dried ice and fog machines.
Unfortunately for them, a vampire happens to have scheduled his rising on the same night. I cheered when I saw him because he was an ugly vampire. He was all dusty and wrinkly and had bits of flesh hanging off of him. I usually like ugly vampires because I think they’re scarier. I mean, what’s more threatening? The Master or Kakistos from the Buffyverse? Or a sparkly vegetarian vampire who plays baseball with his Mormon family? I rest my case.
AnynotCullensway, Paul proposes to Leslie and she accepts. They then get into the car to get down to “bizness” if you know what I mean. The vampire watches them for a few minutes and then decides to attack.
After he gets tired of peeping, he yanks Paul from the car, spins him over his head like he’s Macho Man Randy Savage, and then crushes his spine across a tomb stone. I know I’m supposed to be sad that Leslie’s fiance died but I just laughed so hard at the spinning. I actually replayed the scene two or three times so I could keep laughing. The worst part is that the spinning becomes the vampire’s signature move.
How am I supposed to be sad when that’s happening?
Then, the vampire drinks Paul’s blood. I thought that was weird. I was a huge Anne Rice fangirl in that time we call the Nineties and I’ll always remember Lestat’s admonition to never drink dead blood. But here’s a vampire breaking that rule! What a rebel. He always does that, btw. Kills then drinks. Weird, huh?
The vampire then grabs Leslie, throw her in a grave, and then rapes her.
A bum finds Leslie and she’s put into a hospital room with a crazy woman, Olga, who’s like a butch version of Rhoda Morganstern. That’s exactly what she needs after her ordeal. Seriously, Olga is crazy but Leslie befriends her. You’ll learn throughout the movie that Leslie doesn’t have the greatest choicing skills.
While this is happening, the vampire scampers away and hides in someone’s basement and covers himself with a sheet. He wakes up and the owner of the house is endlessly stirring a bowl of frosting and listening to the worst sounding radio-play ever. You know, back in The Day people had to have good voices to be on the radio. Think of Orson Welles reading War of the Worlds. These people sound like people they picked up off the street after a hard night of boozing. He kills her and drinks her blood as vampires are known to do.
The doctor treating Leslie tells her that she’s pregnant. Uhm, how does he know? There’s no measure of time passing and it only seems like she’s been in the hospital for a couple of days. He tells her that the embryo is dead but is taking air and nutrients from her and advises her to have an abortion. Leslie refuses and runs away to live with Olga. I’m not making this up.
One of the cops who took down Leslie’s report happens to believe that a vampire was the attacker so it makes sense that he goes to the cemetary alone at night to hunt him down. He opens the vampire’s crypt, which opens like a top-loading washer and is promptly attacked. From here the vampire essentially disappears for thirty minutes.
Leslie eventually gives birth with Crazy Olga as the midwife. The baby refuses to take milk and Olga, as the voice of reason, tries to get Leslie to take him to the hospital but she refuses. Leslie accidentally cuts herself and the baby, like Audrey Two, responds to blood. This leads to one of the creepiest scenes ever being committed to film.
That baby has a five o’clock shadow! I don’t want to think of the stage hand that they got to do this.
And now we FINALLY meet the hero of the movie, James Eastwood, who’s been hunting the vampire who raped his mom across country. He signs up for a folklore class that the vampire is teaching at a college. This is just weird, if I were a vampire I’d want to keep a lower profile than that. Different strokes I guess…
James becomes acquainted with two of his classmates, Anita and Anne. Anne allegedly has an english accent but I never, ever noticed it until a character brought it up. After some meandering about which woman James will date, he chooses Anne. And Anita throws herself at her vampire professor, who is going by the name of Lockwood. She’s read books about him and followed his vampire career and she wants him to make her a vampire to replace his dead wife, Sarah, who was burned as a vampire.
He promises to make her his bride and then promptly kills her. Those vampires! This movie is really starting to drag by now and I was starting to wonder if James would ever confront Lockwood. FINALLY, Lockwood hosts a seance at his mansion. This leads to the most bizarre line of the movie when one of his students is eating cake and says, “Cake is so delicious. I can’t believe dead people haven’t found a way to eat it.” Wait, what?
This is when Lockwood reveals his nefarious plan. He’s going to have Anne be possessed by his dead wife’s spirit and then turn her into a vampire. James FINALLY confronts him but only after Lockwood reveals that all means of escape are locked and he starts to feed on his students. James is starting to look pretty ineffective by now. More spinning ensues, James reveals that Lockwood is his father, and then he stakes his old man. For some reason that is never explained, James starts to freak out. Mostly he looks like he’s having a bad tummy ache. Then he grows bad plastic fangs and the movie’s over. I have no clue if his dad’s spirit possessed him or if since his dad died he became a full vampire or what.
I guess it’s not a good thing when a movie leaves you with dull confusion. I can say that while the movie was adequately filmed that it’s point was pretty muddled. Was it choose life? Don’t neck in the cemetary? Never take a folklore class? Who knows.