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Film / Curse of the Undead

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Curse of the Undead is a 1959 American Western horror film from Universal-International Pictures, directed by Edward Dein and starring Eric Fleming, Michael Pate and Kathleen Crowley.

A small western town in the 1880s has been beset by a series of mysterious deaths, mostly involving young women, with no obvious cause. The town physician, Dr. John Carter, has noticed small marks on the necks of the victims, but isn't aware of their meaning. When he dies under strange circumstances, his daughter Dolores, who runs the family ranch, and his son Tim believe that an unscrupulous neighbor Buffer with whom they have a long-standing feud is responsible. And when Tim is killed by the neighbor, Dolores hires a new hand named Drake Robey, a fast-gun who dresses in black and talks in riddles when he says anything at all. The mysterious Robey dispatches Tim's killer and quietly going about his business, which is killing — but not the way that anyone around him expects. For Robey is a vampire, and is responsible for the deaths blighting the town. As the body count rises, local minister Dan Young realizes that something horrible — perhaps even demonic — has taken hold not only of the town but also over Dolores, whom he loves. It finally becomes the preacher's job to confront this monster with the only weapon he has at his disposal, his faith.

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Tropes:

  • Badass Preacher: Preacher Dan Young who is willing to strap on a gun and go up against the undead gunslinger Drake Robey.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Robey shoots a gun out of the hand of one of Buffer's henchmen, despite the henchman having the drop on him. Of course, being shot doesn't actually bother Robey.
  • Cattle Baron: Buffer runs the biggest ranch in the district, and he is trying to drive out his neighbours so that he can add their land to his spread.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Drake Robey has no problem walking around in broad daylight, although bright sunlight does bother his eyes.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Preacher Dan finally kills the vampire gunslinger Drake Robey by mounting the small wooden cross from his graduation button—made from a thorn growing at the site of the Crucifixion—on the front of a bullet and shooting Robey in the heart.
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  • Driven to Suicide: Drago Robles killed himself out of guilt over having murdered his brother.
  • Ethereal White Dress: The blonde Delores—who is being fed upon by the vapire Drake Robey—is clad in a flowing white nightgown when she responds to Robey's mental summons and sleepwalks into the garden.
  • Frontier Doctor: Doc Carter is a typical frontier doctor dealing with a strange wasting disease killing young women in the town. His chances of finding a cure are hampered because the disease does not have a natural cause. Even so, his interference gets him killed by the vampire responsible, both to halt his investigation and to stir up trouble between Doc's daughter and the neighboring Cattle Baron.
  • The Gunfighter Wannabe: Tim Carter is a young hothead who straps on his guns to take revenge on the man he believes murdered his father. Unfortunately his mouth is faster than his draw.
  • Immune to Bullets: Vampire gunfighter Drake Robey cannot be harmed by bullets. His standard tactic is let his opponent draw and fire first. This means that no one can deny his actions were self-defence, as he was clearly shooting at someone who had already shot him; with witnesses assuming that the first person simply missed.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: Preacher Dan finds the hidden compartment in Doc Carter's strong box when he knocks it off the desk and the secret drawer springs open.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: At The Sheriff's urging, Buffer is willing to ignore Tim Carter's drunken goading and walk away. Right up until Tim calls him a "yellowbelly". At that he turns and a gunfight is inevitable.
  • No Immortal Inertia: When vampire Drake Robey is killed, his body quickly turns to dust, leaving his empty clothes behind.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Robey is a vampire not because he was the victim of another vampire, but because he committed the mortal sin of suicide. Because of this, none of Robey's victims will be returning from the dead. Also Robey is not incinerated by exposure to the daylight.
  • Pocket Protector: This is how Robey explains his survival after being shot in the chest by Buffer. Of course, being a vampire, normal bullets do not effect him.
  • Poor Communication Kills: All of the plot (and countless deaths) could have been avoided if the priest had bothered to tell Drago's father that only a wooden stake driven through the heart of a vampire will kill it.
  • The Rustler: Buffer's henchmen are stealing cattle from the Carter ranch as part of Buffer's scheme to drive the Carters of their land.
  • The Sheriff: The Sheriff is a Reasonable Authority Figure who remains adamant that he works for the county, and not any one person in it. He refuses to be bought or bullied by the local Cattle Baron Buffer, and attempts to run hired gun Drake Robey out of town on the grounds that he is a danger to public safety. What he is not equipped to deal with, however, is a vampire.
  • Sibling Murder: Drago killed his brother when he returned from Spain to discover the brother having an affair with his wife. This set in motion the chain of events that ends with Drago becoming a vampire.
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: Spanish nobleman and vampire Drago Robles goes by the alias of Drake Robey.
  • Wooden Stake: The only certain way to kill a vampire according to the information available to Preacher Dan. Drago's father stabbed his son's corpse through the heart with a silver dagger, only to be told afterwards by the village priest that it needed to be a wooden stake. By the time he returned to his son's coffin, the body was gone.


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