Crypt of the Living Dead

March 26, 2012 at 1:48 am (5 Heads, Crypt of the Living Dead) (, , , )

Crypt of the Living Dead – 1973 – Spain/United States

Crypt of the Living Dead (a.k.a. Hannah, Queen of the Vampires) is an American/Spanish coproduction shot in Turkey. Apparently it’s in color, but the commonly available DVD versions are black and white with muffled sound. The poor video transfer darkens the already shadowy photography making some scenes undecipherable.

After his father’s weird murder by a fur-clad wildman, a fellow inherits a castle in a forlorn fishing village. Disregarding the superstitious natives, he opens a sarcophagus in the castle crypt and unleashes a vampire queen. Transforming into a wolf and a mist cloud, the vampire kills villagers until they eventually light her aflame. Her face melts off horrifically, but she possesses a young girl’s body just as the credits roll. Will the vampire’s reign of terror never end?!

With scenic locations, gloomy lighting, and seeping fog, Crypt of the Living Dead is stylishly gothic. The forsaken seaside settlement and its rough-hewn rocky castle are majestically dismal. The mute vampire smirks constantly to eerie effect. And the savage wildman is strange and unpredictable. Unfortunately, the action crawls during overlong scenes of people wandering through the murky scenery. Also, a poorly realized romance wastes time.

While I deeply appreciate an old-fashioned gothic chiller, Crypt of the Living Dead lacks originality and panache, and the uneven pacing makes it occasionally boring. Crypt of the Living Dead is merely good enough. Perhaps the technically superior color version could sway my opinion.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. Plus one head for including both a castle and a crypt.

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