I don't like to look at the summaries of the horror movies that I watch from my classics package. Don't ask why. I kind of feel like they give the whole movie away when they summarize, and I want to be surprised. Anyway, I didn't really know what to expect coming into this. I thought more zombies. Turned out it was a vampire movie - of sorts - so I was almost right. Undead, shmundead, all the same right? Eh, not really.
Dead Men Walk, a 1943 film from director Sam Newfield, involves a set of twins, both played by George Zucco; one of the twins, an evil man named Elwyn Clayton, has died from "unknown causes." We soon find out that his twin brother has killed him because of the evil that he has wrought on the town, but Elwyn isn't ready to give up just yet. Elwyn's servant digs him up from his grave, and Elwyn proceeds to vampirize his brother's daughter and drive his brother, his brother's daughter, and her fiance, batty.
This movie seems a little confused at what it's trying to be. First off, I was really puzzled as to what I was supposed to think. Now, is Elwyn a warlock or is he a vampire? In the beginning, the movie seems to make him out to be more of a witch, or whatever genderized word you want to call him. Later on, though, we learn that he is actually a vampire who likes to feed off of the other Clayton's daughter. Now the movie starts to resemble Dracula, and it really steals a lot of Dracula's themes to use as its own. Later on, the townspeople think the living Clayton is going crazy and trying to kill his daughter, so they form a mob and come with torches burning to Clayton's house, where they proceed to ransack it. Does this sound familiar? Maybe a little Frankenstein-y? And we can even say that the evil twin thing is a reference to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!
So we must ask ourselves, which does this movie do best? Well, since most of the plot focuses on Elwyn being a vampire, we can assume that the movie succeeds for the most part at this plot line. Yet it really doesn't, as most of the vampirism occurs off-screen, or at least very cheesily. I mean, take a look at George Zucco.