Saturday, October 8, 2011

CURSE OF THE UNDEAD - Irving Gertz - "Mark Of The West" (1959)

Tonight we've got a real treat for you on this Halloween Countdown Saturday Night Special, and the only film in our header splash we've never reviewed yet, from 1959, "Curse Of The Undead"!!

The composer for the music in "Curse Of The Undead" is another one of the workhorses of uncredited stock music, Irving Gertz! You might not know him by name, but his music has helped create the scary scene in films ranging from "Monster On The Campus" to "The Leech Woman," and "The Alligator People!" Irving was also known for creating concert and popular music! Irving passed away in 2008 after living to be 93!

I have no idea why, but for the longest time I thought this film was what I always thought was a much cooler title, from one year earlier, "The Fiend Who Walked The West," but it isn't! The two movies have nothing hardly in common at all! "Curse Of The Undead" just might be the greatest crossover film of it's era! It's a straight out western movie except it's about a vampire, and that's pretty weird for 1959!!

But let's get back to the beginning! This is a familiar tale about land grabbin' leeches out in the middle of nowhere! Jimmy Murphy is Tim Carter, and he's just about had enough of his family getting pushed around! Jimmy is a tough little guy who actually boxed professionally back in the day! Jimmy's still around, and hopefully doing well these days!

I said I want another drink!! Talk about the good old days when you could demand some decent service!!!

Now drunken Tim gets badgered into a gunfight with Buffer, the dude he's accusing of moving fence lines etc. Buffer gives him the benefit of the doubt, but gets the better shot off, and Jimmy's role in this movie is over!

The dark stranger just kind of lurks around taking it all in!!

Tim's sister Kathleen Crowley as Dolores Carter, puts a hit out on the killer of her brother!!! Kathleen Crowley is a familiar face to any classic horror and/or western fans because of her appearances in films like "Target Earth," "The Flame Barrier," and TV shows like "Maverick" and "Bronco." Kathleen was also Sophia Starr in two episodes of the "Batman" TV series!

This is what is commonly referred to as swagger!!

The marvelous Michael Pate is the man known as Drake Robey! Because of his dark look, and even though he was from Australia, he was often cast as an Indian in western films! Michael was in something like a million movies and TV shows, besides the recently reviewed "The Strange Door," there's titles like "The Black Castle," and "The Maze," and TV shows from "Adventures In Paradise" to "Zorro!" Michael was also in two episodes of "Batman" as Second Hand Three! The man exudes cool!!

Michael's foe in this story is a story unto himself, Eric Fleming as the Preacher Dan Young! Eric Fleming's story is as amazing as it is sad! Eric ran away from home at 8 years old to get away from an abusive father! If his familiar face looks a little too perfect, it's due to the fact that in 1942 when he was serving with the Seabees, a hoist broke and dropped a 200 pound piece of steel on his face. He had to have at least 4 plastic surgery procedures! His distinctive look and manners led him to star in 202 episodes of the TV series "Rawhide" from 1959 to 1965! You can thank Frankie Lane for that exuberant little number!! Sadly Eric Fleming drowned while filming a movie in Peru in 1966! He jumped into some turbulent water from a dugout canoe, and his body was found three days later!!!

Michael Pate has got one of the biggest almost puppet-like mouths I've ever seen, and he damn sure puts it to good use in this movie!!


Drake Robey has a real mental conflict to deal with, he's a blood-thirsty vampire killer, but deep down inside he's kind of soft-hearted pushover of a guy too!! He seems pretty sincere in his offers to help Dolores even as he's slowly sucking out her blood every night!

Flashback to decades earlier and Michael Pate as Don Drago Robles, and the origin of this vampire's tale!

I get one of these every once in a while, and that's just a great shot of Michael Pate!!

They took a lot of liberties with the commonly accepted rules of vampire actions in this film! A cross bugs the vampire, but he is able to come out during the day in full sunshine!

Eric Fleming was no one hit cowboy wonder, he was also a 50's space captain hero in "Conquest Of Space," and "Queen Of Outer Space!"

Another major underlying problem, and point of contention is that both Preacher Dan and Vampire Drake are in love with Dolores Carter! A cowboy vampire love story; almost makes me want to go out and get a tatoo!!

Yeah, I'll tell you what you can do with your stinkin' cross, F You, Man!!

Every guy, at some time in their life has to deal with the futility of trying to explain to the gal they love, that the other guy she's interested in, is a vampire, and it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that you're jealous, but just the truth! It's tough!!

When talking doesn't work, it's time for physical proof, in this case.............

.........an EMPTY COFFIN!!!!!!

Forget all that vampire business, now it's time for Drake the gunfighter to step in and claim that reward!! Drake always has the upper hand, because even if he's slow on the draw, his opponent's bullets can't hurt him!! What a great concept!! Proving that bad can also be pretty good, Bruce Gordon as Buffer just passed away at the beginning of this year at the age of 94!! Most of Bruce's long career was on TV, but he was in a few films like this one and "Tower Of London" with Michael Pate once again and Vincent Price!

Even though Buffer knows he got off the first shot, he somehow loses the battle!!

Time for the normally God fearing and peace loving Preacher Dan to strap on a gun, and take care of business with or without God's help!! He knows what he has to do!!

Drake Robey has no fear of any man, and in a duel boldly turns his back on Preacher Dan, but this time, things are just a little different......

.......and Drake Robey aka Don Drago Robles goes down for the final count!

Normally, this story should have been continued since Drake was continually sucking on Dolores's neck for nights on end! Normal vampire logic would tell you that she's a vampire too by now, but I guess not!

What was Preacher Dan's secret weapon? A bullet fashioned out of the cross on a pin that he always wore on his lapel! Merry X-Mas!

6 comments:

Christopher said...

I watched this one again last weekend(a fave from old time late night tv viewings)..It really does work as a vampire-western!I only wish they'd played up the unfairness of the "gunfighter you can't kill" angle a little bit more..Pates slobbering all over Kathleen Crowley while she sleeps is creepy ..I remember Bruce Gordon most as Frank Nitty on The Untouchables.

TABONGA! said...

Saw this one when it came out, always remember Michael Pate!

Francesca Forbes said...

Not a great movie so so but interesting that Michael pate was guest star on Rawhide and Kathleen Crowley also was in Rawhide

Francesca Forbes said...

Interesting Note Michael Pate guest starred 3 times on Rawhide Kathleen Crowley also was on 1 episode

Eric Cross said...

Loved the movie it is a really good movie, excellent movie in my opinion. I only wish Warner Brothers would release the movie on dvd in the Region 1 area as I live in the USA. Amazon.com has it on dvd in the Region 2 area but not in the Region 1 area as yet don't they realize that there are Americans that would love to see this movie, I pray that one day this will happen.

EEGAH!! said...

Yeah, me too Eric! In Fact, I wish all movies were available everywhere!

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