The Vampire’s Coffin (El Ataúd del Vampiro)

Movie Information

In Brief: It's the exciting sequel to the first big Mexican horror hit, El Vampiro (The Vampire), and while it may not quite be up to its prequel, it's not anything to be dismissed lightly. Four of the stars from the first film are back and the story adheres fairly closely to the lines of the original. The biggest drawback is perhaps that the Mexico City settings haven't the atmosphere of the crumbling hacienda in El Vampiro, but it's still a lot of fun in its own naïve way.
Genre: Horror
Director: Fernando Méndez (El Vampiro)
Starring: Abel Salazar, Ariadna Welter, Germán Robles, Yerye Beirute, Alicia Montoya, Carlos Anciera
Rated: NR

The successful 1957 release of El Vampiro was soon followed by a sequel that turned out to be The Vampire’s Coffin (El Ataúd del Vampiro) (1958). It boasted the same stars, one of the same writers and, once again, that master of budget-constricted atmosphere director Fernando Méndez. The story is set at some unspecified point after the first film, but it stays fairly faithful to what we saw there. Granted, the isolated hacienda, The Sycamores, seems to have become conveniently close (for purposes of the plot) to Mexico City, and I could swear that ol’ Count Lavud (German Robles) had been staked with a chair leg in El Vampiro, and not the small fence post that is now seen protruding from his chest. This round finds our hero, Dr. Enrique Saldívar (producer Abel Salazar), plying his trade in a hospital where our heroine, Marta González (Ariadna Welter), appears to be working as a nurse. (The film is a little unclear on this since she’s anxious to get back to her job as a dancer.) Things have been normalized. Enrique has helped Marta get over her trauma of having been nearly vampirized. In fact, he’s improbably convinced himself that Lavud wasn’t a vampire at all — “just some guy who liked blood.”

Well, sir, all that’s about to change because his lamebrained co-worker, Dr. Mendoza (Guillermi Orea), has stolen Lavud’s coffin with an eye toward studying a vampire (always a good idea). Moreover, he hired some bozo of a thug named Baraza (Yerye Beirute) to do the heavy lifting — an idea that goes sour as soon as Baraza gets a look at that dimestore medallion festooning the Count’s shirt front. But wouldn’t you know it — the medallion is caught on the stake protruding from the defunct bloodsucker’s chest. Since a yahoo like Baraza is unschooled in even the most rudimentary vampire facts, he pulls the stake out of the horizontal gent’s chest — with predictable results. Fortunately for the Count, his new slave has connections at a labyrinthian wax museum, which will afford him and his coffin a cozy resting spot. Of course, since vampires are notorious for obsessing over the wrong women, Lavud is once again out to make Marta his bride.

The film’s only significant problem is that these new settings just aren’t as atmospheric as those of the first film. Still, Méndez gets the good out of what he has, especially in the wax museum — though the broad expanses of hospital corridors with eerie globe lights on their walls are fairly striking. Where the yo-yo bat effects of the first film were actually pretty good, someone got a little overly ambitious in the bat department here — to the point where their airborne antics have some pretty visible wires. One might question just why Lavud (in all his comic opera sartorial splendor) fails to draw attention on the streets of Mexico City in 1958, but let’s face it: You don’t go to these movies for logic — and that lack of logic is part of the somewhat goofy appeal. Adding to the mix is the very emphatic musical score by Gustav C. Carrion (mostly consisting of the same cues as those in El Vampiro). And for educational value, the film strongly cautions against the wisdom of hiding in an iron maiden — complete with object lesson of the primary pitfall of this action. What more can you possibly want?

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Vampire’s Coffin Thursday, Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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6 thoughts on “The Vampire’s Coffin (El Ataúd del Vampiro)

  1. Orbit DVD

    In 2013 I’ll have more time on my hands to come to special screenings. First, I need to tackle some comments on the main page, and that might take quite a bit of time.

  2. Ken Hanke

    In 2013 I’ll have more time on my hands to come to special screenings

    But will you take advantage of it?

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