Fourth in the Nostradamus tetralogy
By Mark Voger, author
‘Britmania: The British Invasion of the Sixties in Pop Culture’
A non-negotiable rule of the Monster Movie Sequel is obliterated in “The Blood of Nostradamus”: There is no proper resurrection of the vampire, who was supposedly vanquished in the preceding film. We simply hear the disembodied voice of Nostradamus (Germán Robles) inform his opponent, Professor Durán (Domingo Soler), that the vampire has tricked the good guys by switching his ashes with those of a recent victim.
Long story short, Nostradamus ain’t dead.
In his ongoing promise to kill 13 people if Durán doesn’t “revindicate” the memory of his father, Nostradamus announces his next victim: Andre Rojas (Carlos Ancira), the chief of police. The vampire helpfully predicts that the killing will take place during the dark hours of a certain date.
There’s an applicable loophole. The professor informs the lawman that vampires can’t try to kill the same person twice, lest he or she become “a threat to their power.” (It’s a twist I’ve never heard of before, and I’ve seen a lot of vampire movies.) Durán advises Rojas to pull an all-nighter surrounded by cops armed with platinum bullets. If Rojas can just stay alive through the dawn, the prof assures him, he’ll be home free.
Back at his laboratory, Durán is thrilled to accept delivery of a new-fangled gizmo called an electromagnetic cell — futuristic stuff in the 1800s — which will aid in his experiments to track the vampire using sound. (The professor is not just a man of letters, but a roll-up-your-sleeves scientist, too.) Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879, so “Blood of Nostradamus” has technically not committed an anachronistic sin. Yet.
The professor makes headway with the electromagnetic cell. Like a forerunner of GPS, a needle on a graph pinpoints the likely coordinates of the vampire when in bat form. A bonus: The device causes Nostradamus to uncontrollably revert back to humanoid form, experiencing great agony as he does.
Meanwhile, Nostradamus does a little celebrating of his own at his hideout beneath the Castle of the Marquis. As his hunchbacked slave Leo (Manuel Vergara) looks on, Nostradamus proclaims: “Spirits of the dark dominion, inhabitants that lurk in the dark shadows, your ruler Nostradamus invites you to come here! Welcome to death’s abode!” He then makes like Doug Kershaw, scratching on a violin — which sounds more like an orchestra — as he swains around the catacombs. Aw, an artist at heart.
Night falls, and the barricaded police chief is surrounded by his officers. Ill-advisedly, the men drink. Rojas grows increasingly agitated and sweaty. An atmosphere of paranoia pervades. Dawn finally arrives, and the mood becomes jubilant. Chief Rojas has survived! Drinks all around!
But the dawn will be interrupted by a lunar eclipse. (One of the cops remembers reading about it.) What better way to toast Rojas’ victory than to watch it together? The inebriated cops gather at a window. The sky quickly grows dark once again, as a sliver of moon gleams through morning fog.
The men take in the sight, except for Rojas, who alone hears the voice of Nostradamus whisper that one of the officers plans to kill him. Rojas confronts that officer, draws a gun, and is shot dead in the resulting standoff. The eclipse ends, and it is dawn once again.
Says Professor Durán, who returns to see how things panned out: “That darkness that came so suddenly — that three minutes of darkness — was in the plan of Nostradamus!”
It’s change-of-scenery time. Durán and his stalwart secretary Anthony (Julio Alemán) follow clues to a large, lively, well-attended theater (what the Brits call “music hall”). On stage, a vivacious singer named Olga (Rosario Dúrcal) is wearing a ruffled skirt, spinning a parasol, and — pardon my skeeviness — spilling out of her top. She sings in Spanish. A subtitle reads, simply: “Song about promiscuous girl named Anna.”
After her act, Olga sits with Durán and Anthony, who warn her that she is in need of protection from a vampire. Olga laughs in their faces. They are not the first men to offer her “protection,” she says with a knowing smirk.
When Olga repairs to her dressing room to change, a gentleman sits awaiting her. Guess who? They plan to dine — that is, until the singer notices that her caller casts no reflection. Olga initially gives Nostradamus the slip, but ultimately, he puts the bite on her.
While trying to protect a member of the Commission on Supernatural Phenomenon named Wilkinson, Anthony encounters Leo and chloroforms him. He and Durán bring the unconscious Leo to a priest, who locks the vampire’s slave in a cell beneath the church. Leo escapes, climbs the bell tower and incessantly rings a particular bell that has been unused for many years, alarming the priest. Up in the belfry, Leo kills Wilkinson.
From the ground level, Anthony fires up at Leo, who (along with the body of Wilkinson) falls from the belfry. In death, Leo is still clutching his pet white rat. (Elsewhere, Nostradamus is surprisingly upset at the passing of his slave. Just when you think this guy has no feelings …)
The professor asks the priest to inter Leo “in sacred ground.” He was, after all, under Nostradamus’ control. And so Leo takes his rightful place alongside Renfield, Knock, Sandor, Ben Stokes and Willie Loomis.
The vampire again addresses the original Nostradamus, but this time, he refers to himself as “the son of your son.” So which is it? Is he the son, or the grandson, of the first Nostradamus? Pick a lane, buddy.
The coffin opens, and we see the body of the original Nostradamus for the first time since the first film. But this time, he’s not wearing the death mask. We instead see a preserved body (actor unidentified). His eyes are open, but he does not speak. To be honest, the death mask was much creepier.
Wilkinson’s death has freaked out the Commission, and they turn on Durán, demanding: “What strange experiments are you carrying out on bats?” He retorts: “Are you trying to insinuate that I’m fabricating vampires?” To add insult to injury, Nostradamus has identified the professor himself as — gasp — the next to die.
The vampire instigates the Commission to swarm the professor’s laboratory, vigilante style. Mob mentality escalates, and soon a throng of torch-carrying townies marches toward the lab. Their timing is terrible; the professor has just perfected the ability to pinpoint the vampire’s location and inflict pain upon him. Writhing in agony at his hideout, Nostradamus screams, “Help me, father! Please!” A total daddy’s boy.
At the hideout, Anthony recognizes the ivory-topped cane of the vampire slayer Igor (who was killed in the preceding film). Anthony grabs it and races back to the lab. There, a crazed crowd has destroyed most of the equipment, and apparently aims to burn the professor alive. In the melee, Nostradamus bares his fangs and prepares to sink them into the professor’s neck!
Anthony shoots Nostradamus — those platinum bullets are expensive but effective — and hands Igor’s cane to the professor. “I was sure that heaven wouldn’t abandon me,” Durán says with ceremony before plunging the cane into the heart of Nostradamus, ending the vampire’s reign of terror. This time, for good.
P.S.: It finally occurs to me that Nostradamus, as masterfully played by Robles, is at heart a loner — a nerd, really — who uses his powers to mask his insecurity. In truth, Nostradamus wants to be buddies with Professor Durán, whom he views as an intellectual equal. (Let’s face it: Leo just doesn’t cut it in the realm of edifying conversation.) With his repeated requests for Durán to “revindicate” his father’s reputation, Nostradamus is really asking for the professor to revindicate him.
Speaking of which, Nostradamus clearly has deep-set daddy issues. His hero worship of his centuries-dead father (or is it his grandfather?) is pretty pathetic. Does he really hear the voice of daddykins bellowing from that sarcophagus … or is it all in his head?
I further believe that, following the events of “The Blood of Nostradamus,” Professor Durán came to recognize all of this. Yes, Durán is glad that Nostradamus is dead. But there’s a part of him — a tiny, tiny part — that misses Nostradamus. It’s conceivable that on a cold, lonely night when Anthony and Anna are out on the town, and Durán is alone in his darkened study, he longs to hear those three little words that always carried the promise of adventure: “Good evening, professor.”
‘THE BLOOD OF NOSTRADAMUS’
Germán Robles as Nosradamus; Domingo Soler as Professor Durán; Julio Alemán as Anthony; Rosario Dúrcal as Olga; and Carlos Ancira as Rojas
Written by Federico Curiel, Alfredo Ruanova and Carlos Enrique Taboada
Music by Jorge Pérez | Cinematography by Fernando Colín
Produced by Víctor Parra and Alfonso Rosas Priego | Directed by Curiel
More on the Nostradamus tetralogy
Above is “La Sangre de Nostradamus” (that is, “The Blood of Nostradamus” en espanol). Click on YouTube’s translation function, which isn’t 100 percent accurate but at least you can follow the movie.
To clarify my Doug Kershaw reference, here’s the Ragin’ Cajun himself doing “Louisiana Man” on what looks to me like an episode of either “Hollywood Palace” or “Hee Haw.” When I saw this guy as a child, I thought he was a werewolf.