Atom Age Vampire

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Atom Age Vampire
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Atom Age Vampire
Horror, Science Fiction
Leone Film
August 19th, 1960
Release length: 1:08:51
Atom Age Vampire is a very misleading title for this film. Released back in the nineteen sixties, leaving this your typical black and white film of the era, this movie has fallen into the public domain category, recently being reissued in the twenty film DVD collectionUndead: The Vampire Collection. However, this film actually has nothing to do with vampires outside of the title of the film and a brief reference to it in the film given the flow of the plot. But while this release may not have literal roots to vampires, is it still an enjoyable film?

The movie follows a woman named Janet who makes her living as an exotic dancer. She happens to be dating a fisherman who threatens to leave her since she chose her profession over him. Shortly after the argument, the frustration of this argument sets in, and she wrecks her car, leaving her physically and permanently scarred on the left side of her face. Forlorn that she will no longer be beautiful, and that she may lose her lover forever due to it, she contemplated committing suicide before an assistant to a doctor comes in and offers her a chance to regain her beauty, but must keep it all in secret. Agreeing to this, the doctor tells his male test subject, who ends up being a servant who handles the gardening at that location, that he is no longer needed to push his scientific findings further as Janet runs away with the assistant who is working on a new serum that is inspired by his time at Hiroshima and seeing the genetic mutations of those affected by the atom bomb, and offers to help Janet as long as she stays there for a few weeks to make sure the treatment, which ends up successful at first, remains stable.

But as the story goes on, the experiment seems to fail, and she gradually begins to revert back to the disfigured look that she had. The good doctor refuses to let this set back keep her from being beautiful as he begins to fall in love with her after seeing her grateful reaction when she first realizes the procedure was successful. Gradually he starts losing his sanity for her, and begins taking the serum he used in her on himself, changing him into more of a Mr. Hyde character after realizing that he will need the cells in the blood of other younger women to make the experiment a success and permanent. While struggling with this new insanity and the growing number of bodies, he also starts to lose control of his experiment as he continues to promise Janet the permanent cure if she only remains a little longer, finding it harder and harder to control her and she continues to try to escape from his mansion.

The love obsession between the doctor and her does come through a little more believable, though the obvious infatuation with the assistant towards the doctor does give the story a little extra kick appropriate for it’s time. The make-up effects are decent, and keeping the doctor in his evil, murderous persona in the shadows most of the time is brilliant and makes you wonder what he really looks like, making the first glimpse at his gradually mutating face a little more jarring, even though it’s clearly just a mask sometimes. The police officers looking for Janet act as the film’s comedic relief sometimes, and chief of police does a good job at keeping the two from getting a little too out of control when he’s around, and building a little more suspense when he’s talking to the doctor the second time in the film when he suspects him of taking part in Janet’s disappearance.

One of the downfalls to this film is the overlaying audio. It’s as if the film was stripped of it’s original, and instead given voice actors to mouth over the film. The dubbing itself often doesn’t line up with the movement of the mouths, which is attributed to the film’s Italian origins and original non-English audio track, but you still can’t help to wonder why it seems the voice over actors didn’t try to do a better job most of the time. Aside that, you have clear overacting or underacting at certain times, such as the discovery of the first female murder victim and the most forced scream you could hope to hear in any sort of film like this. Also during a club scene when a band is playing and Janet’s love interest is sitting there with two women clapping his hands, there’s no hang clapping effects, which makes you wonder why they didn’t both to include that, as well as some effects during the fight scenes and many other sounds that could have been added easily for it’s time.

Overall, Atom Age Vampire for it’s time isn’t that bad a film as far as the story goes, and even the visuals though much of the film feels a little darker then it should be. This works well for the latter portions of the film when the mutations are being hidden and the Mr. Hyde personality comes into play. But even taking in the time period for consideration, it does have it’s fault such as the lack of sound effects, a bad dubbing job and the voices sometimes not lining up. The short length allows Atom Age Vampire to not suffer from a lot filler, though you can’t help but feel there is some sprinkled about in the movie. Regardless of the misleading title, Atom Age Vampire still ends up being a rather enjoyable science-based film that’s worth watching if you have nothing better to do.

Overall Score: 5/10


Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.