Friday, January 18, 2013

Movie Review: Atom Age Vampire (1960)

What is it with our standards for physical appearance??? We make plenty of judgments based off of it and we allow it to rule our judgment of other people. It has resorted to drastic decisions that were supposed to be solutions, but turned into bigger issues... such as Anorexia. In the 1960 film, Atom Age Vampire, an Italian flick that's only sign I know that it was Italian was from Alberto Lupo's name (if that), has to do with the performance of scientific surgery in which the eccentric scientist, Dr. Alberto Levin who is played by Lupo, attempts to go somewhere that plastic surgery has never reached before. Atom Age Vampire is a creepy little film that has plenty of bumps along the way, but is able to deliver a message nevertheless.

The central character is Jeanette Moreneau, played by Susanne Loret, who is a stripper/exotic dancer whose love interest, Pierre Mornet (played by Sergio Fantoni) wants to leave her. To him, it's either him or her career. Jeanette is left devastated, realizing she wants to be with him while things are just growing too tense, and drives recklessly home. She gets into an accident and disfigures the left side of her face in the process, leaving her with unattractive scars that have invaded her incredibly attractive appearance. At the hospital, she is visited by a woman named Monique Riviere (played by Franca Parisi), who is an assistant to Dr. Levin and quite attractive to say the very least. She invites her on Dr. Levin's behalf to come and take part in his experiment

Dr. Levin has come up with a serum known as Derma 25 and is now working on an improved version known as Derma 28. He's one of the definitive eccentric, mad scientists in horror film, which is always something I find to be quite exciting. When he wants to be, he could even garner an animal instinct. While he's initially able to treat Jeanette, he wants to make sure he could do what he can to make this change permanent. During this period of time, Dr. Levin begins to pick up romantic feelings for Jeanette and falls in love. Jeanette, on the other hand, still has feelings for Pierre, even though he couldn't handle her in her previous position.

In order to make the solution to Derma 28 permanent, Dr. Levin needs "donors" that could provide for the serum, by removal of their neck glands. He begins with his own assistant, Monique, and follows up with random female subjects. With the random subjects, he injects himself with Derma 25 in order to turn himself into a monstrous creature. In order to turn back, he enters a tank. While as the title indicates, people believe the monster is a vampire, Dr. Levin's creature looks and acts more like a werewolf.

However, things start to close in when Dr. Levin's methods are beginning to be revealed and Pierre goes looking for Jeanette, concerned and willing to change his mind about wanting to be with her. This leaves Jeanette with two choices: Dr. Levin, who's brilliant, but incredibly insane, but at the same time the one who made her beautiful again... or Pierre, who is far more normal, wouldn't accept her the first time, but wants a second chance, sounding quite apologetic from the previous.

Atom Age Vampire is an enigma with regard to reading the emotions of the characters, which are relatively inconsistent, especially that of Jeanette and Pierre. Both of them are absolutely confusing and it's hard to tell what they really want. Jeanette seems to always want Pierre and to be beautiful, but is not relatively thankful for how she got her beauty back, but just that she got it back. We only root for her based off of natural instinct, because she's a woman trapped in a mad scientist's living quarters and wants to escape so she can return to Pierre. While she thinks Sacha, who is Dr. Levin's Igor-like experimental assistant is on her side or is serving everyone, he leans toward his master's side. This puts her in an even larger trap.

The best developed character has to be that of Dr. Levin. I think he was quite the eccentric, but at the same time intelligent doctor that had a legitimate solution to a visible problem. The fact that he could come up with a serum that could do what plastic surgery could not is quite the task. Along with Sacha and the laboratory, the arrangement of this spectrum of the film was best by a mile.

Unfortunately, the development of the remaining pieces was scattered and did not do the film justice. The ending will also leave you thinking, "is that what I wanted to happen... I guess.. but..." This is not a film you should put the time and effort to retrieve, because of the incredibly confusing characters and plots, but it may be worth the watch if you want to do what an eccentric scientist could do with his project. However, the same could be achieved through several other methods of entertainment... even Young Frankenstein would count when it comes to satisfying your mad scientist craving.

Verdict: 6/10

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