Upset when her sailor boyfriend Pierre (Sergio Fantoni, Von Ryan’s Express) dumps her before a long voyage, nightclub dancer Jeanette Moreneau (Susanne Loret) crashes her car, resulting in disfiguring burns. Meanwhile mad plastic surgeon Alberto Levin (Alberto Lupo) sends his assistant Monique (Franca Parisi) to find new subjects for his radical scar treatment. Monique finds Jeanette and spirits her out of the hospital and brings her to the lab for treatment. Alberto’s new method works, but the results are temporary, and can only be restored with pituitary glands taken from young women. Monique, who is jealous of how taken Alberto is with Jeanette, suggests killing her and finding a new subject, but Alberto decides to kill Monique instead and uses her pituitary glands. When their effect fades, Alberto uses a failed treatment method to turn himself into a monster, giving him the strength of will he needs to kill more women. A returned Pierre, meanwhile, is pulled into the police investigation of the murders while searching for Jeanette. Can Pierre find Jeanette in time to save her from the Alberto, who is losing control of his transformations and whose attentions Jeanette does not return?
Atom Age Vampire is the kind of movie that, in days past, you might catch in a double or triple bill at the drive-in or maybe on the late-late show. If you grew up in the 1980s and were a monster movie fan, you might see it in mail-order movie catalogs or in the 1990s at Suncoast. Now that we’re in the exciting Tattooed Teens, you can still find it lurking in the background, though now on Hulu, and it’s a good thing it’s back in the “you can watch this for free” category, because Atom Age Vampire is not worth paying for, and is only of interest historically or for a few cheap laughs.
Atom Age Vampire is a typical Italian cash-in film. The acting is mediocre at best (though hard to judge as the film is dubbed very carelessly), drab and cheap looking, and full of endless dialogue (because talking is cheaper to shoot than action). The monster effects and transformation sequences are laughable. The Italian genre film industry thrived on producing rip-offs of recent international hits. The filmmakers were “inspired” by the enormously successful French horror film Eyes Without a Face, and cranked this film out in a matter of months. Both films feature scientists who keep disfigured young woman hidden in their lab while they kill other women to restore their beauty, devoted older assistants devoted to the scientist, and the filmmakers even set Atom Age Vampire in France! Unfortunately the decision to differentiate the story by giving Alberto transformations results in a film that never settles down long enough with any one plot to do anything with it. Historically the film is interesting because in many ways Alberto’s rampage prefigures Giallo films, as Alberto dons a distinctive outfit (a rain coat with the hood pulled tight over his face) and murders young girls while an amateur becomes involved in the police investigation. The scenes of Alberto stalking the canals is eerily reminiscent of Don’t Look Now and there is one murder which quite resembles another in The Bird with Crystal Plumage. Unfortunately, though these are interesting in an academic way, the film itself is a shoddy mess with too many plot elements-mad dermatology, obsession, serial murders, and transformations, even a gardener with the mind of a child-for its short running time.
The hilariously over-the-top trailer: