Thursday, July 17, 2008


More mad scientist shenanigans, this time with a south-of-the-border flavor. CREATURE OF THE WALKING DEAD began as a 1961 Mexican film entitled LA MARCA DEL MUERTO, directed by Fernando Cortes. In 1965 schlockmeister Jerry Warren (responsible for such cinematic mishaps as TEENAGE ZOMBIES and THE WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN) redubbed it into English and spliced in original, almost impossible to watch footage to make the film more comprehendable to domestic audiences. Needless to say, he didn't quite pull it off.

The original film features Rock Madison (or, under his equally-cool Mexican moniker, Fernando Casanova) in a dual role as a scientist who kills women for their blood--in order to maintain his eternal youth--and as the scientist's grandson, who re-enacts Grandpa's "experiments," using the female blood to resurrect his grandfather as a Frankenstein-like creature. Like most Mexican horror films of the '60s, it's a very atmospheric film, with the moody black-and-white photography creating a rich, Gothic feel; also, like most Mexican horror films of the '60s, it's pretty slow going, and unlike other film of the period like THE BLACK PIT OF DR. M, there's no real pay-off or memorable imagery to make it worth sitting through.

As laborious as the source material is, it's made even worse by Warren's intrusion. A few select scenes are dubbed like any other imported release, but the majority of the dialogue is restricted to dull-as-dirt voice-over narration that neither illuminates nor moves the story forward; it's a bit like watching a bad DVD commentary for the wrong movie. The new footage Warren shoehorns in isn't much better: most notably, a looong, static, talking-head information dump that features the unwanted sight of corpulent character actor Bruno VeSota (known for such B gems as ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES and THE CHOPPERS) wrapped in a toga-like sheet getting what has to be the laziest massage ever recorded on film. Geez, Jerry, what'd we ever do to you?

Like the rest of Warren's output, CREATURE OF THE WALKING DEAD makes a better sleep aid than film. If you're inclined to see this, seek out the untainted original, or better yet, try some more enjoyable Mexi-horror films like THE MAN AND THE MONSTER or the ever-popular THE BRAINIAC.

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