Cave of the Living Dead (1964)

CAVE OF THE LIVING DEAD (1964)
(a.k.a. DER FLUCH DER GRUNEN AUGEN)
Article #1459 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-13-2005
Posting Date: 8-10-2005
Directed by Akos Rathonyi
Featuring Adrian Hoven, Karin Field, John Kitzmiller

An inspector goes to a small village to investigate reports of strange deaths. He begins to believe they may be the result of a vampire.

I’ve seen any number of European horror films at this point, and you can usually tell what country they’re from without checking; each country seemed to add its own distinct style to its cinematic output. This one had me scratching my head a pit; it looked a little Italian and a little German, but not so much that I felt comfortable with either guess. It turned out to be a West German/Yugoslavian production. Now, I haven’t seen many Yugoslavian movies, but I get the same feel from some of the footage here that I did from the Yugoslavian footage used in TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE.

In some ways, the movie is very conventional, and in other ways, it’s just strange. Our hero is of the type that feels like he’s be more at home in an Italian spy flick, and some of the music feels the same way. There are the colorful small town villagers to contend with, including an ugly witch, two stupid cops, and a black servant who comes across a little too much like the scared comic blacks from the thirties and forties. There are also some odd touches; for example, when the vampires are on the loose, all the electricity goes out in the town. All in all, the movie comes across as mostly silly, but there are some scary scenes and creepy sequences that are exquisitely moody. There’s a short sequence near the beginning of the movie where we see the shadow of a creature on a wall, followed by a shot of clawed hands raising a window, and then a shot of a shadow hovering over the form of a girl; this sequence is simply breathtaking, and there are a few other moments that are just as nice. It also suffers from horrible dubbing, but that’s no real surprise. It’s a mixed bag, to be sure, but one I think is worth checking out.

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