Actress Carroll Borland in a publicity shot for the 1935 film ‘Mark of the Vampire.’
Director Tod Browning’s deeply strange gem from 1935 Mark of the Vampire (alternatively known as “Vampires of Prague” and “Vampires of the Night”) was actually banned in Sweden and Poland following its release for possessing too many gory scenes. In Hungary numerous scenes—especially any that featured bats—were removed, which sort of makes sense given Hungary’s long history with vampire mythology. The film’s tale actually started off a whole lot weirder and part of its incredibly dark and sinister storyline ended up getting slashed.
Browning—who also gave us 1932’s Freaks and 1931’s classic Dracula—directed 62 shorts and films during his career decided to add a layer of WTF to the already off-kilter flick which was adapted from his own 1927 silent film London After Midnight starring another famous movie monster, the great Lon Chaney. Apparently the screenplay had been enhanced and edited by such a large number of writers that at one point it included an incestual father/daughter relationship (noted in the book 2009 book Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Reader’s Guide) between Lugos’s character of “Count Mora” and the gorgeous Carroll Borland who played the Count’s daughter “Luna.” And since that kind of deviance (according to the screenplay) was against the “Vampire Code of Conduct” Count Mora is sent to live out his days away from the dark world he once inhabited. He then ends up committing suicide by shooting himself in the head out of remorse for his crimes.
In all about fourteen minutes of footage was cut in accordance with the morality police in charge at the time. Though Browning campaigned to keep the footage and storyline intact he wasn’t exactly a studio darling after the massive financial hit the studio took on Freaks a few years prior.
If you’ve never seen Mark of the Vampire, despite its jumpy storyline I highly recommend it to you if for no other reason to see the scene where the gothtastic Ms. Borland flies onto the set with the help of a massive set of white bat wings. A trick that according to reliable folklore took nearly three weeks to nail. Nice.
Borland and Bela Lugosi.
Borland and Bela.
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