Crypt of the Living Dead (1973)
aka …. Young Hannah, Queen of the Vampires …. or just plain …. Hannah, Queen of the Vampires.
Love these Euro-Horrors of the 70’s and they’re even better when they have an actor like Andrew Prine turning up as the leading man looking to rid an island of an ancient curse and the vampire, Queen Hannah. All the while keeping a straight face.
It’s a fast moving 85 minutes that begins with some Latin chanting (I think) and Mark Damon conducting some sort of a black mass on a stormy night in a graveyard setting. An old church, a bloody sheep being bled and a man being lured to his death in the underground crypt of our Queen. It’s not the vampire Queen that kills him. No it’s Damon who is clearly on the side of evil for this assignment brought to the screen by fellow actor and sometime director, Ray Danton.
The murdered man was an archaeologist and the father of Prine who has now come to the isle to claim his father’s body. He’s met by Damon in the coastal fishing village that is rife with suspicion and fearful of ancient curses. I half expected Michael Ripper to turn up at the local inn and warn Prine to make quick work of claiming his father’s remains and return to the mainland. Damon fills Prine in on his father’s work and tells him of the vampire legends and Hannah who’s sarcophagus dates back to 1269 figures into the story.
Much like every descendant of Henry Frankenstein, Prine, figures on finishing his father’s work in the crypt and convinces Damon to get some locals to assist him in opening the sarcophagus. Upon doing so we’ll see that Hannah (Teresa Gimpera) hasn’t aged a day since she was laid to rest. Still young and beautiful it won’t be long before she rises to feed on the blood of the locals in the guise of a wolf. That won’t stop the locals from believing she has risen. The island has no wolves leaving little doubt Hannah’s brought her bloodthirsty ways into the 20th century.
Now we all know that Damon is in league with the devil so we’re all just waiting for Prine to put the pieces together. Complicating matters is the fact that Prine has made quick strides in the romance department. You see, Damon, has a sister who is playing teacher to the youngsters on the island played by Patty Sheppard. Between romancing the young lass and laying wolfbane across the crypt of Hannah, Prine, will also have to contend with an Igor like deformed islander who is doing the devil’s bidding murdering and securing sacrifices for Damon and by extension the vampire Queen.
Perhaps Prine should have heeded the warnings of the town elder about the vampire Queen. No matter because when he finds that same town elder slaughtered in the crypt he’s convinced his father was correct. Queen Hannah was indeed a real live vampire and sure as hell, she has returned to life. In Universal Monsters fashion, Prine, rouses the villagers to light their torches and with darkness closing in to assist him in tracking down the Queen and all her coven.
Been done a thousand times but I don’t give a damn. I loved every minute of this 70’s drive-in special. And is it just me or does Hannah aka Spanish born Miss Gimpera bear a striking resemblance to the late Sharon Tate? Just a inconsequential thought.
Speaking of inconsequential, there is an actor playing one of the locals who I recognized immediately. To me he’s Mr. Pettibon where in reality his name is Edward Walsh. I had to look that up. The actor in question never scored many film roles and for that reason I’ll always know him as the Cajun backer whose fighter gets KO’d in quick fashion by Charles Bronson in Hard Times. Taking the loss rather hard he attempts to cheat Bronson and Jimmy Coburn of their winnings. Bad mistake and if you haven’t seen the film and in particular his punishment, it’s one of the film’s highlights and not too be missed.
Andrew Prine was one of those actors I couldn’t help but follow when I was a youngster. He turned up in countless movies of most any genre and a large number of TV reruns I’d tune into. Early on I mainly associated him with westerns thanks to Bandolero, Chisum and as a “good old boy” character in the Jaws-like Grizzly. While he has numerous horror titles under his belt (see The Centerfold Girls) I couldn’t help but ask him about his westerns when seeing him in 2019 at a classic monster movie convention. A real gentleman who was kind with his time and stories surrounding his long career.
Doing a fine job behind the camera with plenty of inventive angles, Ray Danton, began his career as an actor in the early 50’s and come 1972 turned to directing Deathmaster followed by Hannah and then Psychic Killer in 1975. Following this trio of horror titles he moved into directing series television including episodes for T.J. Hooker, Dallas and Magnum P.I. On the topic of Mark Damon I’ll wager a guess he’s best remembered by genre fans as the hero opposite Vincent Price in the 1960 classic, The House of Usher, for Roger Corman.
Released on DVD a number of times I picked up a blu ray edition from Vinegar Syndrome that came with a bonus movie, House of the Living Dead (1974). Not as enjoyable as Hannah I guess it does have it’s moments. It’s the classic tale of the intended bride coming to the family estate but she isn’t welcomed by the mother-in-law to be. There’s a dark secret going on in the mansion and a crazed brother who tortures animals and is maybe murdering the locals as well. Directed by Ray Austin it was actually filmed in South Africa and makes good use of some location work. Stick with it as the ending comes on strong.
Back to Hannah and those various titles the film was released under. Some posters can be rather silly looking back as seen in this Young Hannah copy
while others can have some damned cool artwork attached to them like it does here on the Crypt version. Same movie, different titles. Ah, the good old days.