Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We Built this Town on Vampirism

When honeymooning in Bavaria, be careful not to linger long in counties controlled by vampires, like the unfortunate couple in 1963's The Kiss of the Vampire. One of the few 60s Hammer vampire films not to feature Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing, it's still a nice journey into that unmistakeable Victorian world of saturated colour.

Well, they have a car so I guess it might be Edwardian. Gerald (Edward de Souza) and Marianne (Jennifer Daniel) Harcourt lose their way on vacation and end up out of petrol on some desolate road. The first sign of trouble is when Marianne senses something awful in the woods while she's left to wait like a target on top of the car.

They stay at a local inn where the proprietor (Peter Madden) and his wife (Vera Cook) are friendly but oddly apprehensive. There's also the strange Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans) who has little to say beyond urging the couple to leave immediately. But before long they're offered the irresistible invitation to dine with the local lord in his lavish manor, a Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman).

Gerald and Marianne are cute and utterly guileless. There's no sinful subtext to their personalities or many layers at all but they're oddly enjoyable to watch, like a pair of gerbils. The vampires don't spring their trap until an impressively creepy masquerade ball, though none of the vampire characters are very well defined and their motivation for not killing some people whose death would really be in the blood suckers' best interests is never clear. Carl (Barry Warren), Dr. Ravna's vampire son, has kind of an intense stare and there's a nice scene where Marianne seems to become entranced by his piano playing.

There's also a young vampire woman named Tania (Isobel Black) whose mischievous facial expressions could have been exploited better. But it's a fun bunch of vamps.

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