Blood of the Vampire

It's not listed in imdb.com (correction--it's under its Tagalog title, Dugo ng Vampira), and there's little mention of it when googled, so I doubt if it's that well known; yet it's available on Netflix!

Strange, strange vampire movie...old man in a huge hacienda has been keeping his wife (Mary Walter) chained and locked in their basement, because she's a vampire. First the son (a young Eddie Garcia), and the sister (a beautiful Amalia Fuentes--now I know why she's known as the "Elizabeth Taylor" of the Philippines) find out, and they too fall under the vampiric curse.

Gerry de Leon's stately pace of storytelling and highflown dialogue, which seems so odd in his modern dramas, comes into its own here, combined with the gothic atmosphere (that's why his dialogue is so perfect for El Filibusterismo (The Filibuster)). There are oddities--the servants are all in blackface for some strange reason (it seems meant to be set somewhere other than Spanish Manila, possibly the Caribbean), and the budget is noticeably low (particularly with the burning house at the end). 

But the cast is good, with the standouts being Mary Walter as the sorely tried vampire matriarch, and Eddie Garcia as her antihero son. The real star of the story, though, is de Leon's sumptuously graceful visual style, which makes up for the lack of shock effects and budget with plenty of atmosphere and foreboding. Plus the way the relationships work out--there's a touch of incest here--is wonderfully understated.

Overall, I think I much prefer this to de Leon's collaborations with Romero--Brides of Blood and Mad Doctor of Blood Island. Which were fun, but in a cheesy way. This one I can take seriously.

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