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The Vampire's Ghost (1945) - Blu-ray Review

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The Vampire's Ghost (1945) - Blu-ray

4 beers“I cannot rest.  I cannot rest.” 

With those words, a casual line becomes a warning as a vampire – dressed all in white – takes the life of yet another victim.  She is asleep.  The little dog in her dwelling doesn’t even bark; he shies away from the looming shadow that has darkened her door.   A wise move, if you ask me.  This vampire, with a very cloying attitude toward his own immortality, is not to be messed with.

This is how director Lesley Selander’s The Vampire’s Ghost begins.  And the weariness delivered by the opening narration from a centuries-old vampire as he drains the blood from out of this Uganda native is palpable.  Don’t worry too much, though.  A quick 7-minutes later, actress Adele Mara is “dancing” for us in a wild and exotic way.

Filmed on a mixture of cheap sets and Republic Pictures’ back lot, The Vampire’s Ghost immediately appears to be an unevenly stitched-together tale of vampirism.  Give it a minute or two and you will see the haunting differences in this twisted tale of free will against a backdrop that worships death.  European folklore goes to Africa and the results, full of sharp dialogue and broken mirrors, is more than just simple voodoo magic.

The film is a lot of things when you concentrate on the flaws.  It is also quite original and damn good, thanks to the inspired casting of John Abbot (Cry of the Werewolf) as Webb Fallon, the vampire at the center of this forward-thinking low rent production.  Abbot bucks tradition here and underplays his lonely character, steering clear of melodrama.  That is the beginning of this flick’s lasting power.

Witchcraft.  Voodoo.  Superstition.  Throw in Abbot’s melancholic vampire, who’d rather be anything but immortal, and a rather solid portrayal of native Ugandan beliefs and you have the framework of this little production from 1945.  Co-starring Charles Gordon as a naïve traveler, Peggy Stewart (Terror in the Wax Museum) as a local nurse, and Grant Withers as Father Gilchrist (Captive Wild Woman), the movie – featuring a great use of native drumming – is constantly surprising with its use of shadows, camera shots, and crackling lines of dialogue.

Considering that this teeny tiny horror film comes from a company that was all about cheap and generic westerns, it is also an anomaly that many dismissed upon its debut.  It is almost otherworldly in how it came to be.  While overly lit in several indoor scenes – revealing the cheapness of the set designs – the flaws in the movie are all forgivable.  This is as fresh as these tales come.

Written by John K. Butler (The Phantom Speaks) and Leigh Brackett (The Big Sleep), The Vampire’s Ghost is horror by way of Casablanca.  I’m not even kidding.  We have a great set-up as locals and travelers all come together to deal with a string of murders.  We’ve got a foreign setting, a bar where all our characters meet, mingle, and mix with and a vampire dead set on disappearing into his own shadow.  And our piano player?  Well, that’s been replaced by the patterns echoing forth from deep in the jungle as the voodoo drums beat throughout this entire 60-minute flick.

The Vampire’s Ghost is as close to Val Lewton’s RKO productions as his emulators get.  You won’t want to miss this release from Olive Films.

The Vampire's Ghost (1945) - Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
59 mins
Director
: Lesley Selander
Writer:
John K. Butler, Leigh Brackett
Cast:
John Abbott, Charles Gordon, Peggy Stewart
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Slave of the blood lust!!!
Memorable Movie Quote: "I cannot rest"
Theatrical Distributor:
Republic Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 21, 1945
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 31, 2017
Synopsis: In the African port town of Bakunda, the undead are restless. Webb Fallon (Abbott), having fallen under the curse of the vampire, is unable to find eternal peace. With an unquenchable thirst for blood, Fallon wanders the vast landscape in search of sustenance and the local missionary Father Gilchrist (Withers), along with friends Roy Hendrick (Gordon) and Julie Vance (Stewart) could very well be his next ... victims!

The Vampire's Ghost (1945) - Blu-ray

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Olive Films
Available on Blu-ray
- October 31, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Olive Films releases a surprisingly strong 1080p transfer of The Vampire’s Ghost that is presented in a crisp aspect ratio of 1.33:1.  With little remastering done behind the scenes, the black-and-while transfer is crisp and filmic with very little visible abrasions. The women look stunning; the men look daper, and the sets – while meager – are interesting enough for this low grade B picture. The audio is presented in an adequate DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None.

Special Features:

  • None

The Vampire's Ghost (1945) - Blu-ray