BIG Spoiler Alert! Seriously, if you’re going to watch Mark of the Vampire (1935), PLEASE do it before reading my silly write-up.
I will, in fact, try to write about this movie without giving away the big reveal, but I don’t know how successful I will be. In fact, already I’ve said too much.
In pre-movie commentary, Robert Osborne says Mark of the Vampire is a murder mystery as well as a vampire movie. I think that gives away a lot right there, and he didn’t even give a spoiler alert. Anyways, I think it is mostly a vampire movie.
The movie begins, as these things often do, with travelers being warned to go nowhere after dark. This is all we see of the travelers, so I guess those actors did not have very good agents. The vampire(s) (I don’t think people know at this point how many there are), it seems, is (are) after folks that have lived in the area for some time.
I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s very good scripting. Of course we don’t want characters reiterating to each other stuff they darn well already know. That would be like me saying to Steven, “As you know, we’re married and have a cute little dog.” However, I think there are better ways to set up background than sticking in extraneous characters we are never going to see again, just so they can get warned.
Perhaps I am too demanding. Anyways, that was an easy way to fill up a paragraph without giving away any major plot points (except to let you know you aren’t going to see those travelers again).
Bela Lugosi is the main vampire, and I wished he would have gotten more screen time. He is very mysterious and scary when he shows up, though, so that’s good. There is another, younger, girl vampire. She is spooky, but the actress does not have Lugosi’s gifts. She doesn’t act so much as walk around slowly with a completely blank look on her face. I suppose that is what the part called for and what the director told her to do, but I didn’t think she had the presence to carry if off properly. Oh well, she was young. I daresay she improved if she went on (didn’t make a note of the actress’ name).
Lionel Barrymore is a vampire expert. I just adore Lionel Barrymore. I don’t care if he puts the beautiful girl in danger to catch the vampires. That’s what a movie vampire expert is supposed to do.
Osborne warns us that nothing is as it seems, and that is pretty much the case. It is one of those movies where, after you find out the big secret, you kind of want to watch it again, to see if they were really playing fair. I’m actually pretty sure they did not play fair (I know some of you are saying, “Whatever that means”), because in post-movie commentary, Osborne tells us the actors did not know the big reveal till they actually filmed those scenes.
Since this is a personal blog, I feel free to interject here that I would be majorly ticked off at a director that played that kind of a game with me. If it is something my character knows, I certainly want to know it. If it is something my character doesn’t know, I would still prefer to know it and ACT. But that’s just me; I’m not all method like some people.
I enjoyed Mark of the Vampire. I may watch it again (perhaps when TCM shows it next October) and write another blog post from the point of view of somebody who already knows the big reveal. If I remember it.