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Vampire Collection, The(El Vampiro/El Ataúd del Vampiro) 
Written by: on November 19th, 2006

Theatrical Release Dates: Mexico, 1957 (El Vampiro/The Vampire), Mexico, 1958 (El Ataúd Del Vampiro/The Vampire’s Coffin)
Director: Fernando Méndez
Cast: Abel Salazar, Ariadna Welter, Germán Robles, Carmen Montejo, José Luis Jiménez, Mercedes Soler, Alicia Montoya, María Teresa, José Chávez, Yerye Beirute, Carlos Ancira

DVD released: October 31st, 2006
Approximate running time: 84 minutes (El Vampiro/The Vampire) 82 minutes (El Ataúd Del Vampiro/The Vampire’s Coffin)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame (Both Films)
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono (Both Films)
DVD Release: CasaNegra
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95

The Vampire: After the passing of her aunt Marta (Ariadna Welter) returns to her family’s estate in the Black Sierra mountains. Marta meets a doctor named Enrique (Abel Salazar) who arranges a ride for both of them back to her family’s estate. Shortly after they arrive it soon becomes apparent that all is not well with her relatives and that their new neighbor Count Karol de Lavud (Germán Robles) is the cause of the problems.

El Vampiro was directed by Fernando Méndez who also directed the Mexican horror classic The Black Pit of Dr. M. The plot for El Vampiro is pretty much another retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with some minor changes. Fernando Méndez’s direction is nearly flawless as its sets the mood immediately as we are quickly drawn into the nightmare he has made all so real. It is by far and away the most his most accomplished film of his career.

The acting in this movie is also pretty good with my only complaint being the under use of actor Abel Salazar is the qausi Van Helsing like role. His character never really asserts himself beyond the love inertest of Marta. The best performance is without a doubt that of actor Germán Robles in his feature film debut as Count Karol de Lavud. Germán Robles totally embraces the part and perfectly captures the essence of the character.

The filmed really lies on scares and heavily on atmosphere. The special effects while not without their faults are kind of cool and a hell of lot better then today’s crappy overdone CGI. The story does have some slow moments and the amount of Vampire attacks is minimal. Ultimately El Vampiro is one of the most compelling retelling of the Dracula story.

The Vampire’s Coffin: Grave robbers steal the coffin of Count Karol de Lavud (Germán Robles). One of the grave robbers is a doctor named Marion who is hell bent on studying a vampire corpse. He co9nvinces his colleague doctor Enrique (Abel Salazar) to help him with his experiments. When they return to the room where the counts coffin was they soon discover that it is now empty and they must find Count Lavud before he cause anymore trouble.

Diretcor Fernando Méndez returns once again for El Ataúd del Vampiro the sequel to El Vampiro. The film opens with a grave robbing scene that looks like something out of James Whale’s Frankenstein before morphing into a game of cat and mouse as Doctor’s Enrique and Marion frantically try to recapture Count Lavud. This film like its predecessor also boasts solid direction and a lot of atmosphere. The story is hokier than and not as creepy as El Vampiro.

All the main cast members from El Vampiro return for this sequel. Abel Salazar is given more to do this time and he makes good use of his ample amount of screen time. The character Marta almost seems like a different person now that is is nothing more then the typical girlfriend role. Once again the best part of the film is watching actor Germán Robles as Count Karol de Lavud. He looks even more confident in the role this time around. Ultimately for those who liked the El Vampiro they will find that El Ataúd del Vampiro is a satisfying sequel.

The DVD:

CasaNegra present both The Vampire and The Vampire’s Coffin in an aspect ratio of about 1.33:1. The image never looks cramped and details look razor sharp throughout. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement. The Vampire has some minor instances of print damage with it being most prominent during the films last ten minutes when the image kind of shimmers. The Vampire’s Coffin fares better as it is free of any major print damage.

Both films come with two audio options the films original Spanish language audio mix and an English dubbed audio mix. All audio mixes on both films are in a Dolby Digital mono. There are no problems with distortion or any other sound defects and dialog is clear and easy to understand. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and understand.

The bulk of the extras include with this release are included on The Vampire DVD and they include a Casa Negra Loteria game card , a theatrical radio spot for “The Vampire”, actor Abel Salazar’s 1995 obituary from the Boston Globe and a stills & poster gallery. Also include with this release are bios for Abel Salazar, Ariadna Welter, Germán Robles & Carmen Montejo and a photo essay written by David Witt titled “Fear a la Mexicana! Mexican Horror Cinema, 1953 to 1965. This text essay about Mexican Horror cinema is thorough and informative. The main extra for this release is an audio commentary with author Robert Cotter (The Mexican Masked Wrestler & Monster Filmography). He gives an extensive overall about the film and those involved in making it.

Extras include on The Vampire’s Coffin DVD include a theatrical radio spot for “The Vampire’s coffin”, a stills & poster gallery and the complete 1976 French photo novel of the Vampire’s Coffin which can be accessed via a DVD-Rom.

Both films come with bilingual menus and the DVD’s covert art is also reversible with a choice between a cover in English or Spanish. Both films also come with a promo trailer titled “The CasaNegra Mexican Horror Trailer” which includes clips form all of their previous DVD releases.

The Vampire Collection is CasaNegra’s best release to date and in very short time they have already established themselves as one of the premier cult DVD labels. Fans of Mexican horror with want to pick this release up ASAP and those who have yet to jump in head first should make The Vampire Collection their introduction into the bizarre world of Mexican horror cinema.

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