The Vampire’s Ghost (1945)

Article #632 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 12-7-2002
Posting date: 5-2-2003

An African village is the site of several unexplained murders. The natives believe a vampire is amongst them, and there is; a gambler by the name of Fallon.

When is a Lewton movie not a Lewton movie? When it came from Republic rather than RKO and was directed by Lesley Selander. Actually, Lewton had nothing to do with this movie, but despite the fact that the movie lacks Lewton’s trademark ambiguity (there is no doubt that we are dealing with a real vampire), in mood and poetry it reminds me of nothing else. The direction is merely ordinary, but there is an exquisite sadness about the unusually well-written script (by Leigh Brackett), and a memorable performance by John Abbott as Fallon, whose unusual looks and mesmerizing eyes make him an ideal actor for his role. Fallon makes for an interesting vampire; rather than isolating himself from the rest of the world, he actually seems to be a member of the community and interacts with those around him on a daily basis. Abbott’s refusal to resort to melodrama results in him underplaying the role, and he manages to invest his character with a wonderful sense of world-weariness that I’ve found in no other classic vampire movie that I’ve seen. There are memorable moments; a scene where he hypnotizes a man to leave his body under the full moon, and a jarring sequence involving a mirror both come to mind. I didn’t expect much from this movie going in, but it turned out to be one of the most unexpected (and pleasant) surprises I’ve run into recently.


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