“Genuine, my love.”
Genuine: A Tale of a Vampire is not a vampire film in the sense we are used to today. This female vampire does not have fangs nor does she only come out at night. Theda Bara was known as The Vamp with the reason being that she was a “vampire” luring men in seductive ways in her films and looking seductive in promo photos. Like Theda Bara, Genuine is a vamp in the sense that she lures men in and they go mad with love.
The film begins with an artist named Percy. Not clearly stated in the film but according to Wikipedia, Percy has completed a painting of the high priestess Genuine. Since he has been working on the painting he has become withdrawn from society. Percy sits down on his couch to read his favorite story about Genuine a high priestess from Middle Eastern tribe. When he falls asleep his portrait of Genuine comes alive and she escapes.
Somehow the story gets flipped back to Genuine when she was a high priestess in her tribe. Her tribe fought many wars and was finally defeated. The conquering tribe took Genuine and sold her into slavery. She is bought by an old man named Lord Melo who is eccentric and keeps her in a locked room in his house.
The only other people allowed in his house are an African slave and his barber Guyard. The townspeople are becoming worried over what Lord Melo is keeping in his house. Since Guyard is the only one allowed in the house he is summoned by a judge to appear in court at the same time he is to be at Lord Melo’s home. The barber sends his nephew Florian to attend the old man.
Genuine, meanwhile, finds a way to escape her prison. She climbs up a ladder and into the room where Florian is shaving the sleeping Lord. Florian is immediately captivated by the mysterious woman and her seductive power. He does not want to leave her side. Since Florian is so in love with her, Genuine convinces him to kill the old Lord for her and he slits the man’s throat.
Percy turns out to be Lord Melo’s grandson. He had written to Lord Melo about coming to visit since they have not seen each other in a few years. Melo had been worried about Percy arriving and what would happen if he found out about Genuine. When Percy arrives Genuine is right there. Now all Percy wants to do is shower her with gifts of anything she could possibly ask for. Soon, of course, Genuine turns Percy into a mad man with lust.
Florian has also gone insane. Guyard cannot understand why his nephew has yelled out that he has murdered someone. The townspeople immediate know that the woman Lord Melo had been keeping is behind Florian’s insanity and they gather to storm the house to get rid of her. Before they can arrive at the house to find the temptress herself, Florian got there and killed her since he could not have her for his own pleasure.
I can only thank God Genuine: A Tale of a Vampire was not longer than the forty-four minutes it ran. It was not too terrible but it got a bit boring because the plot was a somewhat confusing. The acting was over the top in some parts but that is to be expected from early silent films. I went insane with the sets because since this is a German film the sets were made in the Expressionist style. They were made of large, over the top, loud shapes that dominated the rooms creating an unsettling feeling. I love how the Expressionist style was used in German films in the silent era it added so much to their suspense/thrillers. I will only say to watch Genuine: A Tale of a Vampire if you are very much into silent films or would like to see really incredible sets. If you are not into those than skip it.