Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dead Men Walk (1943)

Dead Men Walk

Written by Fred Myton
Directed by Sam Newfield

Elwyn Clayton/Lloyd Clayton.... George Zucco
Gayle Clayton.... Mary Carlisle
David Bently.... Nedrick Young
Kate.... Fern Emmett
Zolarr.... Dwight Frye

“You creatures of the light, how can you say with absolute certainty what does or does not dwell within the limitless motion of the night? Are the dark and shrouded legions of evil not but figments of the imagination because you and your puny conceit say they can not exist? Whence come the story told in frightened whispers down through the ages of witch and warlock, werewolf and vampire, and all the spawn of hell born on the sabled wings of night to the unholy communion of the witch’s Sabbath,”

...or so says the ghostly disembodied head floating in the fireplace at the onset of the film.

Elwyn Clayton is a dark, dangerous and blasphemous bastard obsessed with illicit knowledge and black magic. That is, until he dies. Then he becomes a dark, dangerous and blasphemous undead bastard, returned from the grave with a taste for blood. He strikes out against his brother, the kindly doctor Lloyd, niece Gail, and her dashing beau David—seeking revenge for what may have been foul play against him.

Gail falls ill with classic symptoms of “anemia” and finds “insect bites” on her neck, while Lloyd begins having “hallucinations” of his deceased brother. Feelings of guilt, suspicion and insanity quickly barrel through the small community, promising to fulfill the curse that Elwyn’s faithful servant Zolarr spewed at Lloyd prior to Elwyn’s resurrection: “You’ll pray for death long before you die!”

Can you say "vampire"?  Sure, I knew you could.

If Coffin Joe had an Anglo son who was bitten by Nosferatu and raised by Batman’s butler Alfred and Jack Kerouac’s Dr. Sax, that boy would quite possibly grow to be Elwyn Clayton, an excellent (albeit too theatrical) villain who doesn’t get enough screen time. The special effects are sparse, the shadows are dark, and the townsfolk are cartoonish, but Dead Men Walk is a truly unappreciated and highly unknown gem from a time before Anne Rice’s metrosexualizing of the vampire genre. Give it a look see if you’ve grown tired of Lestat’s Le’shit and the twinkling Twilight teens.

View the teaser below!

64 minutes
Black & White


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