Your Daily Dracula – Guillermo Murray as Count Sergio Subotai, El Mundo de los Vampiros (World of the Vampires) (1961)
This black and white Mexican vampire movie directed by Alfonso Corona Blake follows the duo of El Vampiro/El Ataud del Vampiro, starring German Robles as Count Duval/Lavud, and presages the duo of El Vampiro Sangriento/La Invasion de los Vampiros, starring Carlos Agosti as Count for Frankenhausen. Like them, it offers a Dracula imitator as main menace. Count Sergio Subotai, played by grizzle-haired Guy Williams lookalike Guillermo Murray, wears Lugosi-approved evening dress, starched shirt and bowtie, a huge fuckoff medallion and a cloak with one of the biggest collars known to the undead. He also periodically sprouts enormous fangs – he may be the first screen bloodsucker explicitly to have retractable vampire teeth.
His ambition can’t be faulted either. As suggested by the title, he intends to wipe out or transform the entire human race (no suggestion what the undead will drink then) and create a world of the vampires … but first he has to get revenge on the Colman Family, who destroyed him in the 19th century, which means murdering shaky patriarch Colman (José Baviera) and turning his nieces Leonor (Erna Martha Bauman) and Mirta (Silvia Fournier) into vampires, bwah-hah-hah!
This is all standard Dracula stuff, down to the big plan set aside to deal with a petty intrigue that’ll be his downfall and contrasting heroines whose initials tip us off that they’re analogues of Lucy and Mina. However, screenwriters Ramón Obón and Alfredo Salazar, working from a story by Jesús Murcielago Velázquez (Murcielago?) and Raúl Zenteno, throw in newish, wilder material that makes this a rare pre-1970s vampire movie to offer innovative ideas. There’s a strange emphasis on music.
Like all good megalomaniacs, Subotai plays a huge pipe organ (his is made of human bones and embellished with skulls) to summon hordes of batwinged, papier-mache-faced minions (kind of like the Flying Monkeys of Oz) and harem of coffin-dwelling vampire vixens … while hero Rodolfo Sabre (Mauricio Garcés) is a musicologist who has found a tune that literally revives the dead and then gets into a battle-of-the-bands feud with the Count, all the while coping with the side-effect of a vampire bite that is turning his hands into hairy claws.
Much of it is standard, serial-style stuff: the Count has a hunchbacked human minion (Alfredo Whally Barron) who puts up a pretty good fight when scrapping with Rodolfo, and his cavernous lair has a handy pit of stakes for disposal of servants who displease him. Subotai inevitably winds up pushed into the pit, suffering a fate akin to Francis Lederer in The Return of Dracula – though in a sado-romantic wrinkle, Leonor opts to throw herself in after her master despite the fact she’s probably cured of being a vampire.
This might also be the first vampire movie to go with the ‘Lost Boys’ rule that killing the king vampire lifts the curse from all he has infected – though, again, the idea is elaborated from something implicit in earlier films (the crucifix scar vanishing from Mina’s skin at the end of Hammer’s Dracula). It has familiar, but welcome sets and a greyish gothic look. Of the cast, Garcés and Bauman have the most oomph, with the declaiming, standing-there-evilly Murray a bit of a plank as the arch-villain, despite many shots of his staring supposedly hypnotic eyes.
Jesús Velázquez aka El Murciélago (The Bat) was one of Mexico’s first masked wrestlers.
He later became an actor and a scriptwriter.
I remembered this movie when I read someone-forgot’s story that featured a system of vampirism in which just dying of a bite made one a mook ‘shabti’ (after the Egyptian pottery funerary ‘servants’), but consuming the vampire’s blood as one dies lets one retain one’s mind and will.
(Other aspects of that story:destroying a vampire destroys all their descendants-in-darkness, so a lead character is a vampire/researcher who’s locked-up his progenitor beyond all harm and uses his shabti as lab-rats to determine e.g. how much wood must enter an heart to be counted as a stake, and there’s a shabti who was in life a capoeirista.)