Curse of the Undead 1959


This one is something of a curio from then end of the fifties decade Curse Of The Undead (1959)

Curse of the Undead 1959

Curse Of The Undead is a really strange one in a 50s Westerns list – if there is such a thing. It is  a both Western and Vampire picture nailed together. It somehow stays fairly true to the conventions of both types though.

The combining of westerns with horror has not always made for great films.  We did have  “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula” and “Jesse James meets Frankenstein’s Daughter”.

However “Curse of the Undead”is quite a good one.  This 1959 picture stars Eric Fleming as a frontier preacher who is confronted with a vampire in the form of a hired gun, portrayed with sinister, yet sympathetic overtones by Michael Pate.

Michael Pate’s character had committed suicide after murdering his brother, and that had condemned him for all eternity to be a vampire.

This particular vampire  however seems able to walk around in the daylight with  no ill effects, and we all know from the films,  that vampires  cannot be exposed to sunlight, or they will be destroyed.

Curse of the Undead 1959 2



ABOVE It looks as though – in the USA – this film was on a bill with the Hammer hit ‘The Mummy’  – a film I really like

Curse of the Undead had the novelty of being the first vampire Western.   In the 1940s and 50s, the Western was as popular and far more prolific in its output than the modern action and science-fiction films are. I think I have pointed out  in the past that the 1951 Western Film Review gave details and a list of around 115 Western films released that year.   They created a  vision of the Old West where simple tales of heroism could play out in which the good guys WHO dispensed justice with six guns and their fists. All of the  heroic types that the action film draws on today had their roots  in the Western.

Curse of the Undead 1959 3


Michael Pate ABOVE was an Australian-born actor who played numerous parts in B movies in the 1940s and 50s, becoming a prolific guest star on TV shows of the 1960s, where he was more often cast as an ethnic character, in particular as an American Indian.


As the vampire, Michael Pate has a terse and harsh presence, a sense of contained danger that immediately makes him stand out from the rest of the characters around him. He had a long career in films and Television – he was in Gunsmoke and   Rawhide on Television  among many other roles. The rest of the cast of the film are largely unknown names today.


Curse of the Undead was shot on the Universal Studios backlot, using the standing Western town, sets and warehouse costumes that were also used in dozens of other B Western films of the era. It is even shot with the same typically stolid and unimaginative camera set-ups and flat photography of these B Western programmers.   Director Edward Dein had worked as a screenwriter during the 1940s where he had written a number of Westerns.


He had also written several horror films, including additional dialogue for the Val Lewton film The Leopard Man (1943) and the screenplays for Calling Dr Death (1943), Jungle Woman (1944), The Soul of a Monster (1944) and The Cat Creeps (1946). He made seven films as director, including two co-directed in Spain. His only other venture into this type of film  as a director was The Leech Woman (1960) about a rejuvenation process.


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