Sunday, May 06, 2012

As Sete Vampiras – review

Director: Ivan Cardoso

Release date: 1987

Contains spoilers

As Sete Vampiras translates from the Portuguese as the Seven Vampires but, before you get too excited, it isn’t an undead Brazilian reimagining of the Seven Samurai or Magnificent Seven… nor is it anything to do with the Secret Seven. Indeed there aren’t seven vampires in the film… but we’ll get to that.

The film is termed as a terrir film – a type of horror/comedy format in Brazil… which is just as well as it allows the worst B excesses in the film to be absolutely forgivable. That said I didn’t find it overly funny, but I did find it strangely compelling.

Fred and the plant
The film begins on a quayside, and a giant crate has arrived from Africa. When discussing what is in it, one of the salty sea dogs explains that he has had to put meat in the hole of the crate every 3 hours. There is a thought that it might contain a carnivorous plant – and bizarrely that thought is absolutely right. It is collected by botanist Fred (Ariel Coelho), who has imported it. When we see it in its glory we see a thing with toothed petals forming a central mouth as well as tendrils each with fanged mouths. The effect is so blooming cheesy it is almost adorable.

The plant eats Fred
Fred’s wife Silvia (Nicole Puzzi) isn’t happy about the plant but goes off to teach dance with her friend Clarisse (Susana Matos). In the car, on the way there, and in the dressing room she continues to voice her concern – she is having a precognitive moment. Also in the dressing room scene an extra stands buff naked next to the two women, simply for the titillation and delectation of the audience. Fred hasn’t been totally truthful as he knows there is a risk and he needs to acquire an antidote. Anyway, Silvia phones Fred and (I think) it is the ringing phone that distracts him and leads him to be eaten by the plant. A worried Silvia goes home and is bitten herself.

Nicole Puzzi as Silvia
Silvia becomes a recluse but we see her pacing the night (when a wolf howls) in very little clothing and we see an attack on a young couple… was it me, or did the killer wear a glove… little clue there methinks. The cops are befuddled, there have been two attacks with the victim drained of blood. The Chief of Police (Bene Nunes) won’t listen to the comedy cop Pacheco (Colé Santana) when he suggests it is a vampire and so won’t let him loose on the case. Getting back to Silvia, she is approached by an old friend, Rogério (Johnny Herbert), to go back to civilisation and save his failing nightclub. She does this with a dance routine called As Sete Vampiras.

Rogério killed
And it is here we get the film title. The Dance routine consists of virtually naked dancers (seven of them) vamping around a male co-star and is a fun little traditional vampire moment in the film. However lead dancer Ivete (Simone Carvalho) is having an affair with Rogério and has convinced him to sign the club over to her as a declaration of love (the gold digging little harlot). Silvia overhears this and the vampire (who wears a mask and wields a knife) kills Rogério. Silvia inherits the club.

The vampire
When the vampire goes after Ivete she hires useless PI Raimundo Marlou (Nuno Leal Maia), who starts investigating the case and, somehow, Pacheco ends up on the case too. Is there really a vampire? Could it be Silvia, who seems to be suffering from premature aging and having to take what appears to be the antidote Fred mentions? Just how does Luis, Clarisse’s ex-lover and photographer, know who the vampire is (and thus try a line in blackmail)? I could spoil the reveal but I won’t.

stage show feed
The film is nuts, I mean totally squirrel bonkers (that’s a technical term), compelling, full of random nudity – including a nude photoshoot with Clarisse for no explored reason – and even has a musical interlude with Bob Rider (Leo Jaime) and his Crazy Rhythm. There are bad effects, a weird old mask, a Fu Manchu impersonator (Wilson Grey) and moments with the club’s customers that have no real plot impact.

stage vampire
Is it a good film? No. Should you watch it? If you can track it down then yes, it is one of those bizarre flicks where you’ll never get the time back and yet you’re kind of glad you watched it… at least once. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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