Posts tagged "John Kitzmiller"

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!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm

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