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Cinema/TV, Dracula, Film Notes

Your Daily Dracula – Jorge Beirut as Sergio, Echenme al Vampiro (Bring Me the Vampire) (1963)

Your Daily Dracula – Jorge Beirut as Sergio, Echenme al Vampiro (Bring Me the Vampire) (1963)

This busy Mexican horror-comedy gives genre regular Yeyre Beirut (billed here as ‘Jorge Beirut’) a comparatively brief role as cloaked, coffin-sleeping (bogus) vampiro Sergio (‘Julius’ in the K. Gordon Murray English dubbed version) — though he at least gets more footage than a walk-on mummy.  Beirut is promoted to vampiro after having played a minion to German Robles in El Ataud del Vampiro; he’s also in La Casa del Terror/Face of the Screaming Werewolf with Lon Chaney Jr and a couple of the quickies Boris Karloff made in Mexico at the end of his life.

A downside of the scarcity of monster action is that it makes room for many, many scenes with a clutch of Mexican comedians — who get individual billing cards in the credits (Mantequilla! Borolas! Arriolota! Calambres!).  They all wear ‘funny’ hats and pull scared faces as they run around a supposedly haunted house in that way we have to take as shorthand for comedy since it never raises so much as a smirk.

Henry McDermott (Carlos Riquelme), recently deceased, has left his fortune to seven promising eccentrics on the condition that they spend time in his house with a relative who has been accused of murder and a couple of sinister servants.  These eccentrics (the comedians) include a bad pianist, a rubber-limbed dancer, an inventor with a beard, a stage magician and a couple of ‘ay caramba’ middle-aged runaways who never reveal their professions.  They get killed off in odd ways – the magician drinks a glass of doctored hot milk and vanishes from his clothes – and the survivors join their tormentors in black pointy hoods in the cellar to find out what’s going on.

NB: spoiler alert!  A twist ending is about to be revealed!

In a device we’ve seen before in What a Carve Up! and will see again in Legacy of Blood, it turns out that Henry is still alive and has faked the hauntings to flush out his scheming lawyer, who is naturally after the fortune.  Disappointingly, all the corpses are cheerfully alive in another part of the house – because the apparent ruthlessness of killing off the comics was just about the only distinctive trait this seemed to have.

Echenme al Vampiro gets points, like many another Mexican horror, for cramming in so much stuff it’s hard to keep up with the plot, but the atmospheric 1930s style sets are merely a backdrop for some of the worst comedians ever captured on film (the English dub probably does them a disservice, but I doubt we’re missing any snappy Spanish patter) assembled in a clump which doesn’t even allow them to register as individual characters.  All the gang return in Crevenna’s instant sequel La casa de los espantos (1963).

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