Seeing Double: Atom Age Vampire and Revolt of the Zombies

by Nick Spacek on October 24, 2011

in Columns,Seeing Double

PC Treasures, Inc. makes a series of double-feature DVDs of public-domain films. In honor of the Halloween Horror Marathon, we’ll be looking at the PC Treasures DVD called “Tales of the Undead,” which features Atom Age Vampire and Revolt of the Zombies.

Atom Age Vampire (1963)

atom-age-vampire-poster-1963Atom Age Vampire is a classic. Directed by Anton Giulio Majano and starring Alberto Lupo, it comes to DVD poorly-dubbed and fullscreen, although the audio and picture are fairly decent.

Wowie. Lots of sharp notes on the soundtrack. It seems like every sentence is punctuated with “DUNH!!!” It certainly succeeds where the dialogue fails. Case in point: “It seemed like you were performing some sort of sacred ritual.” That line? It’s in response to the doctor putting something in a cabinet. Yes, the “DUNH!!!” certainly says more.

The dubbed dialogue might be overly emotive, but it’s perfectly paced with the histrionics present on the actors’ faces. There’s so much scenery getting gnawed upon, it’s amazing there’s any sort of set left.

There are more holes in the plot than a colander, but chockablock with cheesy goodness nonetheless. How the fuck does a car accident cause “a cancer – like leprosy”? There’s so much wrong with that statement, I’d go mad trying to justify it rationally. Italian horror always seems like it was made under the influence of some really stellar drugs.

Oh, and of course there’s a mute, ugly manservant. I believe that’s de rigeur for any horror movie prior to 1969. He has to be hideous, he can’t speak, and at some point, he’ll either be the focus of the investigation, the scientist’s wrath, or both.

For those expecting a vampire picture, get ready to be let down. What you’ve got with Atom Age Vampire more akin to a modern-day update of Jekyll and Hyde, albeit if Jekyll turned himself into Hyde in order to make a stripper love him. Honestly, when you phrase it like that, you’ve got something remarkably similar to the BBC’s recent Jekyll series. Far less salacious, though – and more’s the pity. This flick could’ve used a little peeling to liven up the strangulation murders.

Revolt of the Zombies (1936)

revolt-of-the-zombies-poster-1936I, too, wonder “which one of us is sane” after watching Revolt of the Zombies. The acting is either wooden or overly emotive. Either way, it’s mind-bogglingly amateurish in a way that even a community theater group wouldn’t tolerate.

Although, when the opening five minutes is essentially nothing but expository dialogue, and much that comes after is men sitting at tables, or in chairs, or in bed – lots of not moving – there’s nothing much with which to work.

Directed and produced by Victor and Edward Halperin, and starring Dean Jagger and Dorothy Stone, it was conceived as a loose sequel to Victor Halperin‘s 1932 film White Zombie, which starred Bela Lugosi.

The whole thing involves an awful lot of sound stages with matte backdrops, and not a lot of zombie action at all. There’s a squad of zombie soldiers entering a first-world-war trench early on, and it’s creepy as hell: silent, stone-faced soldiers facing down a hail of gunfire and rain of shells to descend into the trench and attack with bayonets at the ready.

What you’re left watching is a crossed lovers story that’s light on the zombies, but highly revolting for the better part of its first half. On a positive note, it’s pretty much terrible for the second half, as well. The “zombies” that eventually appear are just the rest of the cast, which the spurned fiance has hypnotized with a smokey powder. Whoopty-freakin’-do.

To be fair, the movie (which is awfully boring), had to go up against the combined forces of quilt, heating pad, and rainy, overcast weather, making me want to sleep through the end of Revolt of the Zombies, although I did not.

I dozed, but I caught the gist of it:  that dozing through the end did not cause the end to make any less sense than the rest of the film.

You can stream the whole thing below (if you must):

Halloween Horror Marathon originally appears at Nick’s excellent blog Rock Star Journalist.

Nick is a self-described “rock star journalist,” which is strange, considering he’s married with two kids and three cats. This is just further proof that you can’t trust anyone online. In addition to his work for Scene-Stealers, Nick can be found bitching about music elsewhere on the Internet at his blog, Rock Star Journalist, and the Pitch’s Wayward Blog.

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