Cave of the Living Dead

Cave of the Living Dead

aka Der Fluch der grünen Augen aka Night of the Vampires

1964
Written by Kurt Roecken (as C.V. Rock) and Ákos Ráthonyi
Directed by Ákos Ráthonyi (as Akos V. Ratony)

Cave of the Living Dead
Good thing our hero has no peripheral vision and no vision at all, in fact!

Cave of the Living Dead (aka Night of the Vampires aka Der Fluch der grünen Augen) is a German/Yugoslavian coproduction that is a pretty good atmospheric creeper, and turned out much better than I thought it would be. The “Living Dead” in the title are vampires, though I believe that Cave of the Living Dead is a drive-in double bill retitle to cash in on Night of the Living Dead. If my research is right, it shared billing with Metempsyco (aka Tomb of Torture).

Being German, it borrows a lot of the vampire imagery from Nosferatu, while also having some of the Universal and Hammer films to mildly influence things. The black and white film helps give the whole thing a Gothic feel, whether intentional or not. In fact, had the production had the money for color film, I don’t think it would have been as effective. The cave sets would had looked cheap or been poorly lit. The spooky atmosphere would be replaced by the dull life of an antiquated village. The whole kit and caboodle would be off. In fact, from the dub we have, there is jazz music and other not really so spooky music. I don’t know what the original German music was like, but there doesn’t seem to be a consistent attempt to make the whole town spooky, just dreary.

Cave of the Living Dead
Despite my advanced flat panel display, you still have to get up to change the channel!

Also being German, the film is dubbed, and the dubbing is a very good job, at times you will forget it is dubbed. One great dub job is for the black servant John. Though the actor playing John seems to be doing the occasional mugging, the dubber gives him a very distinguished voice that makes him come off as a respectable and cool guy. The small amount of mugging done by the actor is completely ignored, washing away the Mantan Moreland vibes. I wonder if the choice was related to the strong black lead in Night of the Living Dead, or if the dubber just happened to have some sense and knew how to improve a film. In any event, I am thankful for whoever made the choice, as it is the correct one. The fact I have to bring it up should tell you that it’s also a rare choice.

The main plot is the standard city hero comes to town to teach the suspicious country bumpkins a lesson about modern living. No one in the town is brave or smart enough to bother to figure out the mystery, and the few townspeople who are smart are either burned out, suspicious of everything that moves, or just visiting and eager to leave. Most of the locals (barring the Innkeeper, Nanny, and the doctor) are xenophobic of outsiders, with Thomas reacting violently to anyone not from around there. During Thomas’s episodes, most of the rest of the town are too apathetic to do anything, just staring. It mirrors their apathy in fighting the true horror. They are literally the living dead at this point, only waiting to actually die. The only real reactions are a few drunken smiles, the only responses from those so inebriated they don’t remember their lives are shambles. The town’s apathy comes into play again when Dorin attempts to organize an angry mob, but they refuse to be an actual angry mob and defend their town from the vampires down below in the sewers. The people are too scared, too beaten down despite their large numbers. Dorin has to once again be the hero, to show the town what someone can do.

Cave of the Living Dead
Manos!

This particular version of Cave of the Living Dead is hosted by Commander USA as part of Commander USA’s Groovie Movies! Yes, this film is infected with horror host, and we like it! As usual, the Commander USA material will be in blue text, for easy skipping by those not down with the Commander. This particular show was part of a two-episode block that also aired with Psychotronic Man, though we don’t have that episode on tape. It aired the day before Mother’s Day, which even fits into the plot of what Commander USA does.

Commander USA talks about how his Mom loves romance novels, so he is writing his Mom his own romance novel. Yeah. it’s called Love’s Burning, Smothering, Smoldering Flames of Passion by Jack Lovesbuck (pen name!) and Commander USA reads us a sample. It’s not good. Commander USA then shows the previews for the films for the day. First Psychotronic Man, and then Cave of the Living Dead.

So let’s get started!

Cave of the Living Dead
She’s gone full vampire on us! Someone burn her True Blood DVDs, stat!

Inspector Frank Dorin (Adrian Hoven) – Famous out of town detective who comes to town to teach these local yokels just how they do things out of town! And by do things, I mean kill vampires.
Karin Schumann (Karin Field) – Professor von Adelsberg’s secretary, she does experiments with blood and it’s totally not creepy at all or suspicious that her creepy boss may be involved with all this vampire nonsense going on. As she’s the hottest woman in town not turned into a vampire, she becomes the love interest for Inspector Dorin.
The Village Doctor (Carl Möhner) – The Doctor has seen so much death lately he’s become dead inside, burying himself in the bottle. A burned out shell of a man, he slowly comes back to life when Inspector Dorin makes some headway. Like all good doctors, he doesn’t have a name.
Professor von Adelsberg (Wolfgang Preiss) – Every villiage has a creepy doctor who lives in a giant house who does unholy experiments at the same time some sort of mysterious supernatural killer is on the loose. And no one suspects a thing!!!! I don’t get the Professor’s plan, he vampirizes random women, but doesn’t bother to do anything to his closest coworkers, even though they’d be easy targets to grow his army.
Maria (Erika Remberg) – Local hot lady who disappeared and then showed up dead. But that was all a ruse, because she really became a vampire!
Thomas (Emmerich Schrenk) – Deaf guy in town who hates outsiders, picking fights and stealing things from them. He’s basically a big jerk designed to add random minor drama, even though his whole character is pretty lame and useless.
John (John Kitzmiller) – Black servant of Professor von Adelsberg, notable because he’s not a walking stereotype. It’s sad that Cave of the Living Dead is from an era where this is the exception instead of the rule, but it is a delightful exception that I will take eagerly! Granted, it’s probably because this is outside the Hollywood studio system, but even the English dubbing didn’t make him talking all shamefully, so there was hope! While there may have been a bit of mugging, the English dubbed voice turns him into a very respectable gentleman.
Cave of the Living Dead
Make a Tom Sawyer joke and I’ll murderize ya!

Cave of the Living Dead
Oh, hi! I didn’t see you, I was too busy reading a Valentine’s Day card I bought at Target.

Inspector Dorin is one of those cops who’s just too damn good at his job, so he can’t go on vacations. His trip to the bar is even cut short and he’s dragged to the police station. The chain-smoking chief explains how six young women all mysteriously died in a small village. There is no proof it is murder, but it is suspicious, and there are random power blackouts whenever one of the girls die. Chief spends most of the film being angry at everything and yelling, like all good police chiefs. Dorin will pose as a tourist.

Do like the swinging jazz during the opening credits? If so, you are in luck! I actually do and this was the highlight of the film.

A young lass named Maria retires for the night after an evening of hard partying with the older Innkeeper, who she leaves alone with his wine. Dorin makes it to town just in time for his car to break down, an electrical failure that also keeps his flashlight from working (hmmm…) He’s stranded on the side of the road, where Karin Schumann finds him. She lets him know where to find an inn, and their flirting flies as fast and furious as the film franchise of the same name. Will Dorin get to Tokyo her drift? Read on!

Cave of the Living Dead
I’ll have my revenge, I’ll make a substandard Indiana Jones sequel based on a legend about a crystal me!
Cave of the Living Dead
Doodles Drawn in Class: The Movie

A clawed and shadow figure, cloaked in black, enters Maria’s room. Dorin arrives at the inn, and the innkeeper from earlier gets him a room and some food, and is rather cheerful and talkative despite giving a depressing assessment of his town.

Commander USA emerges from a coffin to tell us not to be afraid of actual vampires starring in the film. Good to know!

Karin returns to the Professor’s castle, and John is waiting for her. The power comes back on (and Thomas steals an infrared viewer from Dorin’s car.) Dorin gets more gossip from the innkeeper, who speaks of vampires in the grottoes. The only time I ever hear the term “grottoes” used is when speaking of Hugh Hefner’s grottoes at the Playboy Mansion, which makes the usage here sort of funny.

The next morning, two cops burst into Dorin’s room guns drawn, but Dorin grabs the gun and reveals who he is. The maid Maria has died in the room next door. The haggard town doctor says it was heart failure, and completely ignores the vampire bites on her neck. Dorin is not convinced.

Cave of the Living Dead
Let me show you the nail art idea I got from Pinterest!
Cave of the Living Dead
I got to take some Robitussin, because I keep coffin!

Commander USA reads a letter from a kid who asks if he’s a vampire and why does he wear eye shadow.

Innkeeper sends Dorin to see Nanny – an old lady who is a fortune teller and maybe a witch. She tells him he won’t save the day and goes on about vampires for a while, giving Dorin a cross necklace for protection and a powder to put on vampire wounds to bring the victims back to life. Dorin also gets an invite from the Professor to stay at the castle.

Commander USA looks through his scrapbook, and tells a story about a family where the woman grows wool from his underarms, while her husband hunts bald sheep, and she glues the wool to the sheep. This is why Commander USA is awesome.

Cave of the Living Dead
Mr. Rogers’ immigrant grandpa!
Cave of the Living Dead
Time to read my list on why My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic should adopt Bitcoin. 1 – Rainbow Dash is a slave of fiat currency…

Dorin decides to go to the grotto to check it out, and is joined by John. It’s just an empty, dank cave, with a mysterious light they can’t locate and a stalactite that almost falls on Dorin. Maria the dead girl is not quite dead yet, as she wakes up and we see she have vampire teeth!

Commander USA tells a story about Pigeon Man, who fought crime by pooing on them!, though Commander USA doesn’t use such a specific term. This is why Commander USA is awesome.

The power goes out just in time for Dorin and the coroner to discover Maria’s body is missing. Karin notices that the Professor has no reflection.

Commander USA shows off his Infro-Red Finder – a flashlight. He’s in a coffin for reasons unsaid.

Cave of the Living Dead
Suddenly this film started turning into the Star Wars Holiday Special!
Cave of the Living Dead
That guy had a hipster beard before it was before it was cool!

That night, a secret door opens in Dorin’s room, Maria and another vampire woman emerge to feast on his blood, but are driven off by the cross necklace Nanny gave him. He sleeps through the entire affair, but the door leaves an obvious mark on the floor that Dorin finds the next morning and goes to investigate. But he’s interrupted when he’s told Nanny has discovered Maria’s body lying on the bottom of a well.

Commander USA (with a bird on his shoulder) goes over his home acting lesson – from the book Rocky Road To Success by Uta Haagendaz. He reads off part of the Raven poem, and at the line about rapping at the chamber door, suddenly a rap song start playing and we hear the Commander rapping. Thankfully it cuts away before our minds are destroyed. Remember, Commander USA is old enough that this joke was only a decade old at the time!

Dorin is lowered into the well and brings up Maria’s body. Nanny declares that Maria’s blood is vampire blood, while the doctor is still trying to figure out how Maria got in the bottom of the well and changed her clothes despite being dead. Dorin then recovers his IR viewer from Thomas, and there is a brief scuffle.

Cave of the Living Dead
I’m going back into this coffin until the film becomes good.
Cave of the Living Dead
We grow up quickly here. I’m only 17 years old!

Comander USA peels an orange…chemistry style! He makes one long peel, which he then rips them into earring style pieces – which you can now wear to give yourself a nice orange scent if you get all sweaty while dancing. Form and function!

Karin is done with her experiments and prepares to leave town, even though the Professor is sad to see her go. So he traps her in the castle in the caves. John tells Dorin that Karin is missing. Dorin manages to locate her via the secret doorway. Instead of saving her, he then goes exploring more of the caves. Yes, go through the creepy stone area with coffins everywhere and lit torches. Those torches didn’t light themselves! Dorin finds a scroll with instructions for vampires. The scroll says:

1. Suck Blood
2. ???
3. Profit!

The power goes out again, Maria’s body is missing again, and the doctor finally comes around to the power out, Maria’s body missing again, and doctor finally come around to the idea that they are up against something creepy is going on. They dig up some of the other bodies… those coffins are also empty!

Commander USA is in a straw hat making butter. Yep.

Vampire Maria throws a rock on one of the cops who was guarding Karin, squishing him, and then attacks Karin. She is driven off by Doctor and Dorin, though Karin is instantly a vampire herself! Dorin puts some powder from Nanny on her wound, fixing her and takes her to Nanny to make sure.

Cave of the Living Dead
Any food that requires safety goggles is automatically worth eating.
Cave of the Living Dead
How do the vampires get down here every night without running into that cobweb???

They must find the head vampire and kill him to stop the curse. How long do assistant vampires study until they can become head vampires? Is there an entrance exam? Is the head vampire school accredited? Are vampires Union? Were my GRE scores high enough? I demand answers!

Dorin gets an angry mob to go to the grotto, but none of them are brave enough to go. Lazy, lazy angry mob! Dorin has to go alone with Karin. Dorin’s infrared viewer sees in film negative vision! Thomas is killed in the underground by a gate, because, why the heck not?

Just so you know, after all this time, Karin hasn’t bothered to fix her shirt, it’s still tore open. They find John at the castle, he’s been fired by the Professor, so he goes with Dorin and Karin into the secret grotto under the castle. Vampire Maria is there, and also the Professor is sleeping in his coffin. Brave Dorin kills the sleeping man, each pound of the stake into his heart is punctuated by a shot of the Prof’s face decomposing, until he is nothing but a skull. This is a rather nice effect that was probably the centerpoint of the film. The dead body bursts into flames, and Maria is finally dead dead. The end!

Commander USA prepares to go. Next week’s episodes are The Possession of Joel Delany and Little Shop of Horrors, but not for us, as we don’t got those episodes! Remember, keep your nose to the wind, and your tail to yourself.

Cave of the Living Dead
It’s the bad part of Smurf Village!
Cave of the Living Dead
I’m outta here. Got to pick up some glowsticks before I head over to the Rave of the Living Dead.

Rated 7/10 (cross, goat, depressed, bit, concocting potions, turning into a skull, I caught you black handed!)


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Cave of the Living Dead
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Cave of the Living Dead
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Cave of the Living Dead
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Cave of the Living Dead
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Cave of the Living Dead
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Cave of the Living Dead
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Cave of the Living Dead
Dearest Commander Mama
Cave of the Living Dead
The end…for now?? Yes, forever!

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!