Showdown With A Vampire
What do you get when you cross a vampire with a western set in the 1880s? Butchered Cassidy and the Sun-blanched Kid? The Good, The Bad, And The Toothy? The Man Who Impaled Liberty Valance? Kinda. What you really get is Curse of the Undead (1959), an unusual but cowboy dialogue-rich western with a vampire as the man in black bloodslinger. (Heh.)
As odd as this one is, it’s oddly mesmerizing, not because the vampire is a hired gun and can walk in the sunlight (though it hurts his eyeballs); It’s the amazing dialogue that bites good and hard. But I’ll get to that.
A disease is killing of young girls in a paint-by-numbers old west town. This is further escalated when Doc Carter, thinking he’s got a boot in front of the virus, loses yet another patient. To complicate matters, Buffer, a neighboring bully rancher, has been cattle blocking the Carter farm, denying them water for their milk makers. The no-pushover sheriff intervenes in a bar where Buffer and his boot buddies are gettin’ their whiskey on. What follows is a pure cowboy word beatin’…
“You blow real hard when you got those laughing hyenas around you…” “I got two choices – either arrest ya or shoot ya. Either one would suit me fine. So draw your gun or shut your mouth…” “You want Doc Carter’s spread like your mouth has been doin’…”
There’s even better stuff when Doc Carter gets vamped, his teen kid, thinking that Buff did it and got all fired up like a cow brand, fixes to shoot Buff Stuff dead in the mouth. But not before six or seven shots of whiskey…
“Nothin’ you can do bothers me ’cause I know you’re talkin’ out of a bottle…” “This gun don’t care who it shoots…” “Why don’t you two stop this manure spreadin’?
Man, that last one’s my new catch-phrase. And it works for any occasion!
So where’s the vampire while all this manure spreadin’ is going on? Watching from the sidelines. Introducing himself as Drake Robey, he answers the $100 reward poster offered by the last surviving Carter sibling after big mouth Timmy is shot by Buffer, right smack in the saloon. (Legal note: Buffer was not indicted; Tim Tim drew first, but Buffer drew firster.)
There’s a diary narrated back story about how Drake came to be a vampire, something about killing his brother in the back for making lips with his wife, then killing himself with possibly the same knife. Cursed, he now roams the land as dressed in black mercenary.
Delores Carter, left to carry on the family name, hires Drake to put Buffer out of everyone’s misery. But the local preacher, with a holy cross button “made from the thorns of the crucifixion” (he got it on eBay™) discovers Drakes secret and challenges him to a showdown in the streets. Let’s just say the preacher got Drake to “button” his lips.
Great fun for classic western action, but a dud with the vampire stuff, which was depicted as three people with the two bite holes in their necks and Drake, without so much as a crooked tooth, acting less a cursed member of the undead and more like a paranormal pistol packer.
For another odd vampire western, try Billy The Kid vs. Dracula (1966). The plot is pure spread manure.