Directed by John Hayes
Starring: Michael Pataki, William Smith, Diane Holden and Lyn Peters.
Grave of the Vampire follows in the path of the recently released Yorga movies with the Draculaesque many fanged vampire of the early 70s. They are actually quite refreshing, especially because they harken back to the days when not all vampires were underwear models with perfect hair who have an anti-hero complex.
This film sees the amorous Leslie and Paul leave a party to go and do the nasty in the local cemetery, a place where apparently they first consummated their relationship. Leslie remarks in a foreboding fashion that she believes cemeteries will never frighten her. Paul uses this opportunity to propose to Leslie, giving her his grandmother's engagement ring, and they return to the car for some backseat action while an ominous fog begins to fill the cemetery. The crypt of Caleb Croft creaks open, and vampire once known as Charles Croydon awakens from a decades slumber, his stiff bones and cobwebbed suit lurching out of the coffin to attack the unweary couple.
|Caleb Croft rises|
A homeless bum who sleeps in the cemetery witnesses all of this, having been awoken by the commotion, and passes this scene onto the investigating detective. After showing several photos of the usual suspects to Leslie who is recovering in hospital from the rape, and is unexpectedly pregnant from the assault, he comes to the belief that Caleb Croft was not only the suspect, but is also a vampire.
Fed on bottled blood from her own body, the boy who hides and plays in the shade grows to become a handsome dhampir, and after burying his mother swears vengeance on Caleb Croft and vows to destroy him.
|The Yorga-like fangs of the 70s|
James befriends several of the students, who are also students of the occult, including Anita who also discerns Lockwood' true identity, and after demanding to be made a vampire, meets a nasty death with a kitchen knife at her apartment.
|Anne becomes the unwilling vessel for Sarah|
|James Eastman: Like Father, like Son|
James returns to declare his true identity, which Croydon seems demonically pleased about. After a brief struggle the dhampir gains the upper hand, stakes Croydon ridding the world of his evil. With his last undead breath, Croydon curses his son and like him becomes a full vampire, with all the cravings and powers of the forces of darkness, rising from his father's corpse to make Anne his first victim.
I have a few problems with this film, besides the fact it seems to be compared with the Yorga films. To me it seems like it's missing scenes, perhaps a great deal of them and/or suffers from a bad edit. The film seems to leap from when Anne and James discovers Anita's bloodless body in the shower, to the seance scene at the vampire's house. There is just no logical jump between the two scenes.
Another problem I have is that it seems that Croydon is not overly suspicious of James, and doesn't do some investigating on his own. James gave himself away in the first meeting, establishing the link between Croydon and Croft, and the fact they were both vampires, and seemed to taunt Croft with this knowledge, albeit challenging him. If I was Croydon this would have certainly raised a few red flags for me, especially after stealing the book from the reference library that James referred to in that initial meeting, which would have confirmed suspicions. For a centuries' old vampire, he seemed to be rather dense. Lastly it seemed he had misplaced morality. He was willing to kill anyone that got in his path or discovered his identity (besides James), but wanted to lend a book from a library that detailed his past crimes instead of just stealing it.
Despite these niggling faults, it's still a rather enjoyable and dark vampire film, one of the few gems of the 1970's. Pity they don't make vampire films like this or Yorga anymore. So let's bring on more vampire underwear models instead.
My score is 6/10.