Leaping liebestod, it's another vampire picture. Who on earth ordered this one? Why did MTM Enterprises think they could breathe still more living death into the world's most irrepressible jack-in-the-box?
The sole distinction of "Vampire," the two-hour ABC Sunday Night Movie at 9 on Channel 7, is that it may be the first totally bloodless Dracula film. But that's like making a tuneless musical. No thoughtful allegorical approach or perverse new insights are offered; the tale merely drags along sheepishly to a flat finale.
This time Drac surfaces in San Francisco, looking blonder and more epicene (as played by Richard Lynch) than usual. According to ABC publicity, he embarks upon a "spree of homicide," but this turns out largely to be hearsay in the gun-shy script by Steven Bochco (creator of the "Paris" series) and Michael Kozoll.
Director E. W. Swackhamer, whose credits range from the muggy "Dain Curse" miniseries to episodes of "Love, American Style," does have more mood-setting prowess than the directors of most TV movies, but the mood set here is a sort of melancholia catatonia.
As the enraged husband who loses a wife to the vengeful vamp, Jason Miller (of "The Exorcist") acts much battier than the Neckbiter himself, and it is a shame to see the haunting eyes of Kathryn Harrold, as his wife, closed so early in the picture. However there is a beacon of life that lasts the whole film through, and that is E. G. Marshall as a retired cop turned vampire hunter.
Marshall and Bob Hope seem more and more to look like one another as the years go by, but that doesn't keep Marshall from maintaining a very commanding presence. His Harry Kilcoyne has effortless, underplayed charm and authority; the actor and the character both are better than this man "Vampire" deserves.