Breaking Christopher Komeda Cult Films Dance Of The Vampires Douglas Slocombe Fearless Vampire Killers Ferdy Mayne Film Reviews Iain Quarrier Jack McGowran Ludwig Von Krankheit MGM Roman Polanski Sharon Tate Wilfred Shingleton

Film Review: The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)

Film Review: The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)


“The famous Professor Abronsius and his clumsy assistant Alfred travel to the remote Transylvania to research vampires. They are hosted in an inn by Shagal and sooner the shy Alfred falls in love for the inn-keeper’s red-haired daughter Sarah. When Sarah is abducted by the mysterious Count von Krolock, Professor Abronsius and Alfred head to his creepy castle. The duo of scientists are welcomed by the count and his gay son Herbert and invited to a vampire ball late night.” (courtesy IMDB)


Why horror cinema rose like a vampire in Britain through the sixties, and the shape it took, is a curious research certainly. Much more within the late fifties than as we speak, British movies have been tied to the good status of the theatre. Their stars have been Alec Guinness, Laurence Olivier and Michael Redgrave. Their successes have been the now-forgotten variations of Somerset Maugham, Terence Rattigan and William Shakespeare, which have been promoted by critics with a fierce defensive chauvinism. American movies have been equally represented as missing within the civilised qualities which good British movies possessed, notably the westerns and thrillers of filmmakers like Anthony Mann and Don Seigel that are remembered from this period. For many English filmmakers, the making of such films meant ‘selling out’ – to have deserted the traditions of English literature and British theatre. The Hammer horror movies have been a big break, not solely from the English movies which proceeded them, but in addition from the previous Common studios cycle.

These monster films have been shot in color, mainly to point out off the massive portions of Technicolor pink which gushed so profusely from severed limbs and open wounds. Additionally, the place the Common movies had used all their assets to minimise the fright, Hammer used music, lighting and sound to prop up the lamer moments of their films. On the peak of this British vampire cycle is Roman Polanski‘s parody The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) retitled within the USA as Dance Of The Vampires. Polanski steadfastly maintains that his childhood within the Cracow ghettos, the passing of his mom in Auschwitz, the homicide of his pregnant spouse by drug-crazed hippies, and his belated flight from America to keep away from an extra jail time period for his alleged rape of a thirteen-year-old woman at Jack Nicholson‘s home, don’t have anything by any means to do together with his underlying emotions of alienation and hostility that permeates most of his films. And he could also be proper.

He’s an clever, self-possessed man who has survived, apparently intact, horrors that might have crippled lesser males, and it appears patronising within the excessive to not take heed to him. A graduate of the Lodz Film Faculty, Polanski has all the time been a grasp of many genres, and he proves this by following the cult success of the art-house movie Repulsion (1965) with Rosemary’s Child (1968), two of probably the most genuinely scary horror movies ever. Between these two terrifying classics, whereas working in Britain, Polanski observed that audiences would snort quite a bit throughout horror movies, and determined there-and-then to make a vampire comedy modelled on Hammer horrors, notably The Brides Of Dracula (1960). “I stylised a style,” he claimed, relishing in such traditions as luggage filled with vampire-killing units, and rooftop units standing firmly on the studio flooring. The end result, nevertheless, was completely totally different from its inspiration. This may be seen from the opening metamorphosis of the MGM lion turning right into a cartoon vampire and the animated titles start (together with ‘Fangs by Physician Ludwig Von Krankheit‘).

Down these credit, the animated blood drips over a gray mottled floor, revealed to be the floor of the moon shining on a Disney-like panorama into which the characters drive. This confusion with actual and animated objects turns into a motif. Out of the Transylvanian snowscape comes Professor Abronsius (Jack McGowran) and his apprentice Alfred (Roman Polanski) who deduce there are vampires about, judging from the behaviour of the native villagers. Alfred meets the innkeeper’s lovely daughter Sarah (Sharon Tate) when she creeps into their toilet, and he witnesses her abduction by Rely Krolock (Ferdy Mayne), leaving solely a residue of bloodstained cleaning soap suds. The innkeeper’s try and rescue her solely means that he’s discovered the next morning, frozen stiff and coated with vampire bites. Abronsius and Alfred go to the citadel the place they’re welcomed after which trapped, and their state of affairs is additional difficult when the rely’s homosexual son Herbert (Iain Quarrier) takes a liking to Alfred, who manages to save lots of himself by jamming a guide on courtship between the vampire’s tooth.

The night is the event for a ball, for which the fort graveyard empties itself, one of many many photographs decreased to absolute black-and-white. In the course of the dancing, Abronsius and Alfred handle to lure Sarah away from the vampires in a unprecedented sequence performed in sustained takes, climaxed when the trio are revealed alone within the ballroom mirror (truly a window behind which doubles of the actors carry out). They escape from the fort and are pursued by a murderous hunchback on a coffin sledge however, in a ultimate sequence, their plan goes astray and it’s revealed that they themselves may unfold the curse of vampirism all through the world. Technically, The Fearless Vampire Killers is outstanding, with manufacturing design by Wilfred Shingleton, music by Polanski common Christopher Komeda, and cinematography by veteran Douglas Slocombe:

“I think he put more of himself into Dance Of The Vampires than into any other film. It brought to light the fairy-tale interest that he has. One was conscious all along when making the picture of a Central European background to the story. Very few of the crew could see anything in it, they thought it was old-fashioned nonsense, but I could see this background. I have a French background myself and could sense the Central European atmosphere that surrounds it. The figure of Alfred is very much like Roman himself – a slight figure, young and a little defenceless, a touch of Kafka. It is very much a personal statement of his own humour as he used to chuckle all the way through the scenes.” The Fearless Vampire Killers isn’t solely probably the most completed of conventional vampire films, it’s also probably the most disturbing. Its innovation lies in its darkish humour, harking back to Polanski’s earlier movie Cul-De-Sac (1966).

The ghoulish ball visitors are suggested that their occasion gained’t need to make do with one solitary woodcutter for dinner, and they’re proven Sarah, whose scarlet gown is the one absolutely saturated aspect amongst the decay. Abronsius feedback, “You may be sure they will make her last, it’s their idea of fun.” The uncomfortable factor of the movie is that this combination of comedy with the normal sado-erotic content material of the English vampire film. That is definitely true of Herbert, the mincing homosexual vampire, however it’s most noticeable with Sharon Tate, who registered merely as an insipid starlet in movies like Valley Of The Dolls (1967) and The Wrecking Crew (1968). Right here she exhibits a scrumptious sense of humour and is made breathtakingly lovely. The minimal dialogue is a assist, however there isn’t a mistaking the loving care with which her scenes are filmed. When she sits bare beneath the suds, with the rely’s chew on her pale throat, enjoying comedian scenes together with her husband-director, the character of the fabric is unmistakable. Certainly, the phrase ‘Necrophile’ is used for the primary time in an English-language function movie: “He takes me for a nincompoop, that necrophile!”

When the movie was first launched in the USA, MGM needed to promote it as a ‘comedy farce’ in order that they eliminated twelve minutes, added the animated prologue, re-dubbed Abronsius with a goofy voice, and gave it a foolish subtitle: The Fearless Vampire Killers, Or Pardon Me However Your Tooth Are in My Neck. This mangled version was the one model out there till the early eighties, when MGM unearthed and distributed Polanski’s unique edit. The director’s minimize garnered loads of new curiosity and compelled many critics to re-assess their opinion. Since then, the unique model of the movie is the another generally seen in the present day and has been launched on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray, and may typically be discovered on late-night tv. Sadly, in 1969, Polanski’s spouse and actress Sharon Tate was brutally murdered in macabre circumstances by the demonic disciples of Charles Manson of their Hollywood residence. Two years later, Polanski was displaying the ugly murders in Macbeth (1971), probably the most blood-soaked of all Shakespeare performs and one with an undercurrent of supernaturally evil forces. ‘Fair is foul and foul is fair’ expresses Polanski’s world: ‘Life is art and art is life’.

In his solely Polish function, Knife In The Water (1962), a easy crusing journey turns into an absurdist drama of sexual rivalry. Repulsion (1965) is about sexual disgust, and Cul-De-Sac (1966) is about sexual humiliation. What? (1972) is an Alice-In-Wonderland of sexual perversions, and incest is performed up on the finish of Chinatown (1974). Married couples are disturbed (in each senses of the phrase) by intruders in Knife In The Water, Cul-De-Sac, Rosemary’s Child and Macbeth. Demise And The Maiden (1994) marked a superb return to his previous type, and this was adopted by crucial plaudits for The Pianist (2002) proving that, regardless of his amusing variability, Polanski stays a grasp of the medium he respects and loves a lot. I’m well-pleased to have been capable of talk about this piece of top of the range cinematic artwork for you, I really feel it has restored my inventive credibility. Cease that guffawing! Ahem – so be careful for vampires and tread rigorously the cobbled streets of Transylvania, till subsequent week once I return with one other daring shriek-and-shudder shock sensation present in that steaming cesspit often known as Hollywood for…Horror Information! Toodles!

Film Assessment: The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)