Movie Review: Mark of the Vampire (1935)

Synopsis: When an aristocrat is found dead with two pin-sized marks on his neck and drained of blood, the locals suspect Count Mora and his daughter, Luna, of being vampires. However, authorities are hesitant to consider a supernatural explanation.

Who's in it? The movie stars Lionel Barrymore, Bela Lugosi, Elizabeth Allan, Lionel Atwill and Carroll Borland.

Review: I came across this movie early this morning and, even though I'm always a bit skeptical about Bela Lugosi in non-Dracula vampire roles, decided to give it a try, just in case it ended up being a pleasant surprise. As it turns out, it was better than expected.

This is one of those movies that you need to watch in its entirety to fully understand the plot. At first glance, it just seems like another rip-off of Dracula, and not just because Lugosi walks around in a cape. Many of the plot elements are similar, including a doctor who is an expert in the supernatural (Barrymore) and a soon-to-be-married woman (Allan) who seems to be the vampire's primary target.  Probably the only real difference is the fact Lugosi has a daughter (Borland) in this movie and almost no lines.

As the movie progressed, however, it became apparent there was more going on than first indicated, making me wonder if maybe the vampire thing was just a red herring being used to cover up a murder. This, in turn, made me wonder which of the characters weren't what they originally seemed to be.

The twist at the end was admittedly unexpected (well, sort of), and definitely made me see the movie in a different light than I originally expected, to the point I am considering re-watching it to see how it is to see the entire film with advanced knowledge of what is actually happening.  At minimum, I can honestly say it wasn't just a rip-off of Lugosi's best-known character.

Final Opinion: It was a better movie than expected with a nice surprise at the end. It's worth taking the time to watch it at least once.

My Grade: B


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