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Mark of the Vampire

Mark of the Vampire(1935)


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While Motion Picture Herald claims that this film was based on a novel entitled The Vampires of Prague by Guy Endore and Bernard Schubert, modern sources indicate that Mark of the Vampire was a remake of the the 1927 M-G-M silent film London After Midnight (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.3137), which was based on Tod Browning's story "The Hypnotist." It has not been determined which is correct. Working titles for the film were Vampires of Prague and Vampires of the Night. Hollywood Reporter production charts list actors Jane Mercer, Henry Stephenson and Doris Lloyd in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A contemporary New York Times news item notes that M-G-M imported a number of large South American bats for the picture, and was ordered by the government to either deport or destroy the creatures after the film was completed. According to modern sources, Rita Hayworth was tested for the part played by Carol Borland Mark of the Vampire marked the screen debut of Borland, who, according to a Bela Lugosi biography, appeared in a stage production of Dracula with Lugosi, but concealed her prior professional involvement with the actor while testing for the role. Lugosi's biography also notes that the actor designed his own costume, and that neither he nor any of the other actors knew how the film was going to conclude until the final days of production, when Browning made the final pages of the script available to them. Because the actors had been playing the story as strict horror, they reportedly balked at Browning's "gimmick" ending. An alternate ending with a second twist, in which Lionel Barrymore's character receives a telegram from the vaudeville actors apologizing for not being able to make their train for the castle assignment, was proposed, but Browning rejected it. The original story had Count Mora committing suicide after killing his daughter, with whom he had an incestuous relationship, but all traces of the incest and suicide plots, with the exception of Count Mora's bullet wound scar resulting from the suicide, were removed from the film. Modern sources list Jack Dawn and William Tuttle as the makeup artists. Earlier reviews list running times in excess of eighty minutes, a possible indication that the film was cut after previews. Following the release of Mark of the Vampire, the New York Times printed a letter it received from a physician who wrote to the Screen Editor of the paper to complain that "a dozen of the worst obscene pictures cannot equal the damage that is done by such films as The Mark of the Vampire." Robinson objected to the film from a medical standpoint, stating, "I refer to the terrible effect that it has on the mental and nervous systems on not only unstable but even normal men, women and children...several people have come to my notice who, after seeing that horrible picture, suffered nervous shock, were attacked with insomnia, and those who did fall asleep were tortured by most horrible nightmares." The letter concluded: "In my opinion, it is a crime to produce and to present such films. We must guard not only our people's morals-we must be as careful of their physical and mental health." According to the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Mark of the Vampire was rejected by censors in Poland; and in Hungary, censors deleted all screams throughout the picture, as well as shots of bats, spiders and "the more gruesome shots of the vampire."