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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, October 2, 2023

Mark of the Dead Man (1961)

It has been a while since I checked out a Mexican Horror flick. Most folks immediately think a Santo or other masked wrestler flick when I say this and rightfully so. But there was also a tradition in the fifties and sixties to do more classic movies with vampires, ghosts, and in this case mad scientists. Mark of the Dead Man was a new to me, so I was excited to check it out. 

Dr. Malthus is a bad man. We know this because we watch as he stalks and kidnaps a woman apparently to drain her of blood for his evil experiments. We find out that he has lived for more than a century because of his mad scientist activities. Though this time the police stop him from finishing. That means even before he is executed he starts to show his age. He is eventually hanged and that is the end of the story, or is it?

I mean since that all happens in the first ten or so minutes obviously not. The movie then moves from the eighteen nineties to the nineteen sixties with all of it’s groovy music and fashions. There is a new Dr. Malthus who looks just like the old one. But it is a descendant of the evil fellow from earlier and not the same man. Though he does find his ancestor’s journal and digs him up to see if he can be revived. Sure enough with the “help” of a kidnapped maid the original Dr. Malthus is up and running his experiments again. This leads to more kidnappings, blood draining, and other such things. Though this all comes to a head when the new doctor stops the old doctor with fiery results. I mean all good mad scientist flicks need to end with the lab being destroyed by fire!

I sort of liked this movie. The pacing is quick, and the movie never lingers enough to notice the low budget or derivative storyline. Instead, something is always happening and while familiar it still entertained me. The movie has an odd mashup of creepy gothic vibe with the dark old house and laboratory while also feeling very much a product of the sixties with the clothing and groovy dancing/music. The story itself is a fun combination of mad scientist narrative with a bit of vampire (the doctor uses the blood of the young for his immortality) tossed in for fun. While I don’t feel the need to watch Mark of the Dead Man again it was still an amusing way to kill a hour and fifteen minutes. I mean I’ve seen a lot worse than this. 

The special effects are super simple. From the obvious bat on a wire gag to the rubber mask used to age the doctor when his formula starts to wear off we have seen this all done before. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and on their budget I thought it was solid work. The lab set is also simple but effective. I did notice that the machinery looked familiar and with a bit of digging looks like it was reused later in the decade for the miserable and much less enjoyable Madame Death which I’ve also covered for the site. Glad to see them getting their money out of the props. 

You can find this movie floating around the internet as I believe like many other Mexican productions has hit public domain. Be warned though that schlockmeister Jerry Warren got his hands on this and released it in sixty-four as Creature of the Walking Dead. His added footage and dubbing killed all the things I like about it. The titles are interchangeable so if you hear English dialogue stop right away. You are watching the wrong one. Here subtitles are your friend. 

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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