The Germans get some measure of revenge on us for their thrashing in a couple of world wars by unleashing this most typical non-epic about vampires on an unsuspecting public. Much like any cheap Italian horror movie of the period, it’s characterized by stark black and white photography, spooky castles, and good looking babes who turn vampire on you. And much like those movies, Cave of the Living Dead is mostly marked by its omnipresent boredom.
We all know that when HQ tracks down Inspector Dorin at his favorite pool hall that something real big is up. There’s an important case that needs his expertise immediately though it was never made clear why Dorin was the only guy who could handle the job.
Six girls have turned up murdered at a village across the sea and they need to send a man in there real quiet like before the press gets wind of it. The chief gives Dorin the use of a rental car, a gizmo that allows him to see in the dark with infrared stuff (I guess this is the 1964 version of nightvision goggles – they look like a flashlight with a box attached), and some papers in case the local police give him trouble. (“Hey, what are you doing here, trying to solve our unsolved murders?”)
Dorin already knows how he’s going to handle the local authorities, announcing with a fair amount of pride that he’s going undercover as a tourist!
Just before Dorin leaves, the chief tells them that there is one more thing, but he’s not sure if it has anything to do with the murders, which of course means it has everything to do with the murders!
Every time one of the girls has been killed, all the power in the village goes out for awhile. The local power plant has no explanation for this. He can probably get to the bottom of things by arranging a tour of the spooky castle that a mad scientist just moved into right near the village. Since Dorin will be masquerading as a tourist, no one will suspect a thing.
Dorin gets in his rental car and drives up to the village, but before he can get there, his car conks out on him! As he’s checking under the hood, a hand reaches out and touches him on the shoulder. A shudder passes through the audience as we realize that we have just been introduced to Karin, the assistant for the mad scientist, but more importantly, the completely pointless and unbelievable love interest!
Dorin finally makes it to the local inn and the innkeeper explains to him that of course rooms are available since nobody in their right mind would stay in town what with all the unexplained murders taking place. Dorin succumbs to this hard sell approach and ends up with a room right next to the maid’s room.
Once everyone is asleep, somebody dressed in black shows up in the maid’s room through the window, and leaves two puncture wounds on her neck.
The next morning the local cops are banging on Dorin’s door and demand to be let in. He does and they try to stick a gun in his face because they think he’s the killer. He disarms them with this really cheesy karate chop and yells at them for being such Rosco P. Coltrains.
Dorin rightly advises that if he was the killer, would he have a room right next to the victim, kill her, go back to his room and sleep until they show up yelling and screaming? Rosco and Enos agree that maybe they have the wrong man, especially when Dorin shows him the magic papers from the chief that must say something like “you have the wrong man.”
Karin comes by again and invites him to stay at the castle because the mad scientist has extended an invitation though one wonders why. If it was so that the mad scientist could kill Dorin, I’d be all for that, but once Dorin gets there the mad scientist doesn’t do much more than tell Dorin not go into his locked up, super duper, secret lab.
Dorin’s “big break” in the case comes when he visits the town witch to get Karin’s vampire bite fixed up and she tells him where the vampire is and how to kill him. That’s the kind of cop instincts they can’t teach at the police academy!
The tedium one experiences as all these non-events play out is something to behold. When this witch was telling Dorin all this stuff, I was wondering why she hadn’t told anyone else before. Or better yet, if you know where and when the vampire is down for his nap, why not you haul your saggy butt over there and do the deed yourself?
While it is reminiscent of other early European horror films such as Mario Bava‘s I Vampiri and though I Vampiri was an affair that dulled your senses pretty good, at least you had lots of Bava’s beautiful camera shots to keep you watching. There is no such saving grace in Cave of the Living Dead. What there is is an overabundance of talk, no suspense, no gore, no violence, and this dude that plays Dorin has the personality of overripe bratwurst.
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