Jeanette Moreneau (Susanne Loret) is a nightclub performer whose boyfriend Pierre (Sergio Fantoni) is breaking up with her in her dressing room. Their argument leaves her distraught, and she inconsolably rushes out into the night, into her car and because she's not being careful, over a cliff. She survives the accident, but her good looks have been irreparably damaged and she lies in her hospital bed growing more and more depressed. She happens to have a gun with her, and precisely at the moment she's about to use it on herself to end it all, a woman, Monique (Franca Parsi), walks through the door with a proposition: all is not lost...
It's probably coincidence that Atom Age Vampire, or Seddok, l'erede di Satana as it was known in Italian, was released in the same year as Eyes without a Face, but it did illustrate how two films with one idea could take divergent paths. The Georges Franju work was a minor masterpiece of poetic horror, while this film was mostly a group of people standing around in rooms chatting earnestly to each other. A team of four writers came up with all that dialogue, but the producer credit is the most interesting aspect: one Mario Bava, and by the end you might be wishing he had directed it as well.
The big idea is that a disfigured woman can have her beauty restored by a mad scientist, and that's the proposal Jeanette has to decide upon - does she go through with untried surgery, atomic-powered surgery at that, or live out the rest of her life looking as she does? It takes a short time for her to make her decision, which is let's get atomic on the scars of course, and in no time she is introduced to our resident mad professor, Alberto Levin (Alberto Lupo). As the American title suggests, he takes great interest in all things nuclear, and believes that he can harness the power for good.
So that's the Atomic part sorted out, where does the Vampire bit come in? Well, it doesn't really, but it transpires our professor has a dark secret. The surgery goes excellently, couldn't be better in fact with Jeanette's face restored, but oh dear, it doesn't last too long and after day or two the scars return. Obviously further research is necessary, but the scientist opts for a rather unconventional method in that he transforms into a monster and kills young women for a particular gland secretion that is crucial for his work, not something you would find many men of science taking part in.
There's not much explanation for his actions other than that this is a horror movie and it needed a monster, but at least the scenes of Professor Levin skulking about menacing ladies provide a respite from the near-incessant drawing room sequences where he confesses his love for the now imprisoned Jeanette and she wails that she wishes to return to Pierre, who also starts sniffing around. The professor is convinced he will manage to keep his subject with him because she relies on the regular surgery, but ah, if the love is purely one-sided then how can it really bring satisfaction? Any questions like that are forgotten about once the comic relief policemen start nosing about and it all ends badly for the professor, as it should. All in all, atmospheric photography apart Atom Age Vampire is one step below a Dr Orloff film as far as entertainment goes. Music by Armando Trovajoli.