The 1970s was a time of a lot of "alternative" vampire movies. The
success of the TV show Dark Shadows (and the two films based on
it) and of the low budget flick Count Yorga, Vampire (and
its sequel) were what really launched this cycle. The 1970s were also the end
of the idea that being a vampire and feeding upon and killing people was
inherently and unequivocally evil. A whole book could be based on the idea of
predatory monsters not only coming out on top but becoming the heroes of films
as being a reflection of the Regan era "greed is good" ethos.
Anyway, what prompted this new post was that I finally caught up with the 1974 flick The Grave of the Vampire the other night. Although it's derivative as hell and has flaws a plenty it's still an interesting little flick.
William Smith actually looks less menacing as a vampire than he did in his normal/human state.
The story is actually an interesting one. A vampire (Michael Pataki, best remembered as the undercover Klingon in the Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles) rapes a woman (after feeding on and killing her boyfriend) and she becomes pregnant. Somehow the doctor using late 1940s technology is able to determine that the fetus growing inside her is "a dead thing feeding on her life" and should be aborted. The woman decides to carry the baby to term and home delivers the infant aided by a relative (I think she's her aunt or something) who conveniently has a prejudice against doctors so the doctor's warnings are ignored. The infant must feed on blood to survive and is apparently a human/vampire hybrid.
The child grows up to become William Smith (the huge, body-builder and low budget film vet) who is hunting down his vampiric dad to destroy him. Hmm … talk about having issues! He locates dear old dad, in his guise as a University Professor who teaches a night course (I assume at the Learning Annex since he's never required to show up during the day nor has anyone checked his credentials) on the supernatural at the local college - although it looks like a grammar school classroom. Anyway sonny boy confronts vampire daddy (William Smith is so big and scary you feel very sorry for the vampire) and beats the hell out of him and then impaling him with a piece of a table (hey, it's wooden and similar to a stake) and as daddy dies sonny boy becomes a full vampire.
The production values are pretty minimal but they did manage a few decent visuals. They did do all their night stuff at night (as opposed to "day for night") which helps the film. The female leads are attractive enough but not top-heavy bimbos like you often find in these films and there are a few clever bits in the plotting. You really have to love one of these films when there is a scene in which one of the characters deduces Caleb Crofts (Michael Pataki) secret and he actually tells the vampire. Schmuck! He should’ve made a quick exit without saying anything. The vampire simply slaughters all his guests very quickly.