• Grave Of The Vampire

    Released by: Bayview Entertainment/Retromedia
    Released on: March 19, 2013.
    Director: John Hayes
    Cast: William Smith, Michael Pataki, Lyn Peters, Diane Holden
    Year: 1972
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    The Movie:

    Directed by John Hayes, 1972’s Grave Of The Vampire starts off with a great scene where a young woman and her date (who sort of looks like a leprechaun) stop their car in a cemetery for a little make out time. Unfortunately as they get down to business, the crypt of one Caleb Croft (Michael Pataki) opens up and its lone inhabitant pops out, hungry as can be. He tosses the leprechaun guy into a tombstone and then drinks his blood, after which he drags this poor lady into an open grave and has his horny undead way with her.

    The cops are stumped – they can’t explain it, though a bit of background research on Croft inspired by the fact that they found his grave empty does reveal he had a sordid past. Our poor rape victim, though? She’s pregnant. The doctors urge her to abort the baby but no dice, she’s keeping it… and can you guess who the father is? Well when you see the infant nursing on at his mother’s teet sucking blood not milk, you can pretty much figure it out. This kid grows up to be a guy named James (William Smith) and he decides to do something about the curse he’s had to deal with since day one: track down Caleb Croft and get revenge.

    This proves to be easier than you’d think. While the cops were never able to track him down, James quickly learns that Caleb is currently teaching lessons in the history of the occult at a nearby university. As James sneakily enrolls in one of his father’s classes in order to get closer to him, we learn the truth about his real identity, his past, and what he’s really up to with all of this decidedly sinister behavior and blood drinking and what not.

    The first twenty minutes or so of this movie are pretty solid, with some nice atmosphere and a few interesting twists thrown in to hold our attention, a nice mix of traditional vampire motifs (the opening attack), some twisted sex (the rape, though it’s all off camera) and a well-played shock (the bloody breast feeding). From there, the movie does run into some pacing issues but thankfully Pataki, more than anyone else in the cast, really manages to save things. His performance is energetic without being too over the top and he makes for a genuinely intriguing character here. William Smith is alright as the ‘hero’ of the movie, though he isn’t quite as enthusiastic on screen as his rival.

    Unfortunately, as explained on our message board here, this version of the movie is cut. This is particularly noticeable during the opening attack scene where the feeding feels trimmed and weaker than it should be. As such, the film isn’t a particularly gory one, but it does have some nice atmosphere and a decent storyline. This one doesn’t try to rise above its horror movie origins, it’s ambition seems only to entertain and to spook – on that level it actually does succeed, as it offers up a few eerie images and a very strong finish which, of course, leaves the door open for the sequel that never happened.


    Retromedia’s 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer shows some mild to moderate edge enhancement in spots but is watchable enough. Expect to notice vertical scratches throughout the movie, sometimes more prominently than others, as well as other bits and pieces of print damage. Colors look okay, if a bit flat, and black levels are all right. This isn’t an amazing transfer but it would appear that the elements were probably in pretty rough shape – with that said, it’s okay. Not great, but okay.

    The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is presented in the movie’s native English, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided. There’s a bit of hiss here and there but overall the audio is fine for an older low budget film. The levels are well balanced and the dialogue is pretty clear.

    There aren’t a ton of extras here but we do get a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Retromedia DVD releases, and a quick one minute restoration demo. Menus and chapter stops are also included. The cover art is pretty great.

    The Final Word:

    It’s a shame that we didn’t get the completely uncut version of the movie here, but even with the trims in place, this is a decent watch. Michael Pataki makes for a fun antagonist and if William Smith takes his sweet time getting on screen, once he does he is pretty good in the part. Retromedia’s DVD looks and sounds alright, though it’s light on extras.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      Thanks for the review. I know Fred mentioned he extended the breast cutting and end fight scenes for thsis release. Any sign of fiddling in these sections? A poster at CHFB explained that GRAVE is in the PD, which probably explains why MGM has yet to release their HD transfer.
    1. Randy G's Avatar
      Randy G -
      This film has a nice 70s vibe to it.