Public Domain Movie: Atom Age Vampire (1960)

Atom Age Vampire: Review

Atom Age Vampire is an Italian horror film (Seddok, L’Erede di Satana) that has been dubbed into English.

At the beginning of the film an exotic dancer, Jeanette Moreneau, is visited in her dressing room by her sailor boyfriend, Pierre Mornet. He can’t stand the fact that she takes off her clothes for a living and has come to dump her. Surely she must have been doing this when he first met her, so why it is suddenly a problem for him is anyone’s guess. Whatever Pierre’s reasons, his ship is sailing in the morning and she won’t be seeing him again.

Jeanette goes after Pierre in her car and if she was having a bad day before, it is only getting worse because she is involved in a nasty accident and when she wakes up, in a hospital bed, her face is horribly disfigured.

Months later, the plastic surgeons have given up all hope and so has Jeanette. She takes a revolver from her handbag (do they allow those in hospital?) and is about to blow the rest of her face away when a woman enters her room with the offer of a miracle cure. The woman is called Monique and she is the girlfriend/assistant of mad scientist, Alvin Levin, who has been experimenting with cures for cancer.

In order to give his lab animals cancer he has developed a formula called Derma-25, which mutates the animals so badly that they become monsters. While working with Derma-25 he has stumbled upon something he calls Derma-28, which, unlike its predecessor, is somewhat of a miracle cure that regenerates dead and damaged tissue, returning it to normal, almost instantly.

Levin becomes infatuated with Jeanette the moment that he sees her and, forgetting all about his loyal assistant Monique, his treatment becomes as much a labour of love as an experiment.

Levin needs to keep Jeanette at his house until he is sure that the cure is permanent and, presumably, because he appears to enjoy looking at her so much. Unfortunately for Jeanette the cure isn’t permanent and her scars start to reappear. This is quite a dilemma for Levin because he has no more Derma-28 and it will take him months to manufacture. more. In the end he decides to try a new approach and tells Monique that if he transplants new glands into Jeanette—glands from another young woman—they will produce their own Derma-28. Monique is shocked by this idea. “How would you ever accomplish it?” she shouts at him. “By murdering the first woman that passes?” Monique loves Levin and she is loyal, but that loyalty has its limits and she refuses to be an accomplice to murder.

Monique dies in her sleep that very same night and Levin seems strangely unaffected by her death (I wonder why). His lack of remorse is rather odd, but he has been busy, so perhaps that is the reason. He has somehow found the necessary glands (the bounder!) and has already implanted them into Jeanette.

Once again the cure is only temporary and Levin is forced to stalk the streets for. donors. He is such a respected scientist, though; that his face is well known and he worries that he will be recognized while. taking donations. Levin decides that he needs a disguise and so, in true mad scientist manner, he injects himself with Derma-25. The mutations that this causes are as horrible as they are fast and he quickly becomes a monster. His own mother wouldn’t even recognize him now and he is free to roam the streets at will, with little worry of being labelled a murderer. When Levin has the necessary glands he steps into his radiation chamber and is quickly mamma’s blue eyed boy again.

While all this is happening Pierre has returned and is looking for his lost love, while his lost love, now a prisoner in Levin’s house, also dreams of a reconciliation. Atom Age Vampire is never going to be one of my favourite films. The stealing body fluids/parts idea makes it very similar to films like The Corpse Vanishes, The Ape Man, and even Nightmare Castle, but it adds nothing new to the idea. There is also a scene in the film that doesn’t seem to make any sense. Levin is about to operate on Jeanette but finds that his servant, Sasha, has got drunk and let the generator run dry. Levin gets the generator up and running, but then, instead of rushing back and performing the surgery on Jeanette, he picks up a hammer, knocks a hole in one of the walls, and proceeds to crawl through it. Why? The original Seddok, L’Erede di Satana was over a quarter of an hour longer than Atom Age Vampire and I can only presume that the answer to this might be somewhere among the cut material. I may never know, but I don’t think I will lose much sleep over it.


Additional Information

Director: Anton Giulio Majano

Cast

Alberto Lupo … Prof. Alberto Levin
Susanne Loret … Jeanette Moreneau
Sergio Fantoni … Pierre Mornet
Franca Parisi … Monique Riviere
Roberto Bertea … Sacha


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