Thursday, March 15, 2007

Slaughter of the Vampires – review

Directed by: Roberto Mauri

First released: 1962

Contains spoilers

This Italian gothic movie can be summed up in one word, melodrama. It lays it on with a shovel, which sometimes is no bad thing. It does have a somewhat muddled plot at times and the basic premise is rather simplistic.

The film starts with a man, the vampire (Dieter Eppler), and a vampire bride running down the road chased by a mob with torches and pitchforks. They hide in bushes but then make a break for it.

The female vampire falls and is surrounded by the mob as the male gets away. The male vampire is not named through the film – though he is asked his name.

A carriage thunders down the road, transporting the vampire and his coffin, he urges the driver to greater speed – he must reach the castle before sunrise – which he does.

Now we should assume some time has passed, the film is not explicit but the young couple Wolfgang (Walter Brandi) and Louise (the very beautiful Graziella Granata) have moved into the castle. They are having a party. Wolfgang asks Louise to play piano for their guests whilst he sends a manservant to get some wine from the cellar. After the wine is collected the vampire rises, his coffin is hidden behind barrels and we shall examine his hiding place later.

Louise is playing but when we hear a noise effect she falters slightly. By the time she had finished the vampire is in the doorway. Louise says she feels she must sit down rather than dance with Wolfgang. The vampire approaches her and they dance. Their dance is the talk of the party but at the end Louise feels faint and the vampire vanishes off into the night. She leaves the party and goes to bed.

In her room she is approached by the vampire. She protests weakly and is carried to the bed where he bites. During the bite she caresses him and begs him not to leave her. The vampire beats a retreat as Wolfgang knocks on the door. The next day the family doctor, Dr Schneider (Alfredo Rizzo), calls. He suspects anaemia but cannot be sure.

Night falls and Louise abandons the marital bed and goes outside, finding the vampire. In an unusual moment the vampire actually presents her with flowers. She asks who he is that he has poisoned all her love for her husband and made her his slave. She is found outside by Wolfgang.

Schneider is out of his depth and refers Wolfgang to Doctor Nietzsche (Luigi Batzella) who immediately spots the act of a vampire but, by the time they return to the castle, Louise is dead and her body vanishes.

In a neat turn around the film is not about saving the damsel but saving the husband who is now in mortal danger.

Schneider is our vampire expert and informs us that only fire and the cross can work against a vampire and yet we then get staking and the use of sunlight. I mentioned the hiding place of the vampire and one has to ask why he lives behind the wine barrels when the vampire Louise is hidden in a secret room, which the vampire must have shown her as she, herself, is new to the castle.

The acting seems below par, but this may be a dubbing issue and is not helped by the poor English dialogue that is used. As the screenshots will indicate the DVD transfer is somewhat overexposed and the film quality is pretty poor.

Yet the film, for its faults - simplistic yet muddled story, virtually no character development and poor dialogue and acting - has one thing definitely in its favour; the melodrama (well that and plenty of heaving bosoms). The melodrama is not only apparent in the cinematography but also in the over the top music. The film lays it on with a shovel and, in the right mood, this can be a joy. As a piece of cinema, however, it is only worth 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

Your review about Retromedia's version of this film is dead on, I think they just shoved the video version in the machine and let the DVD recorder do it's thing. plus this version is seriouly chopped and edited in the most inopportune places. A pretty poor job for a name brand company....HOWEVER, you look at the DARK SKY FILMS version of this movie, it is crisper and cleaner and that is the one I now own, I couldn't get rid of retro's fast enough.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers for that - I'll keep my eyes open for the other version

House of Karnstein said...

This is a guilty pleasure of mine, mainly because of Graz Granata.. I can't think of another vampess I'd rather spend the night with and let suck my blood..She looks wonderful with fangs & gothic dress! : )

Taliesin_ttlg said...

HofK, there is no answer to that ;)