April 3, 2011

Vampyres (1975)

(AKA Vampyres: Daughters of Dracula)

"A lesbian vampire couple waylay and abduct various passer-byes, both male and female, to hold them captive at their rural manor in the English countryside in order to kill and feed on them to satisfy their insatiable thirst for blood."

I'm not going to spend too much time on "Vampyres" since it isn't a very good horror film even by 1970s' standards. Of course there are those that will disagree especially if they think that Marianne Morris and Anulka Dziubinska are the two most beautiful vampiresses they've seen outside of Harry Kümel's "Daughters of Darkness" (1971). Comparing "Vampyres" to "Daughters of Darkness" though cannot possibly end in a good way especially as, due to alternative titles, some people might confuse this inferior British dreck with the Belgian classic.

Basically, "Vampyres" is a mediocre entry into the vampire genre with hardly any plot and an ending that will leave you scratching your head in puzzlement. If it wasn't for the presence of some decent actors and the reuse of the obligatory Oakley Court in Windsor for the location, I don't think that this film would deserve much more than just an acknowledgement that it even exists.

The only thing which stood out for me apart from the obvious but unsatisfying sex scenes was an early role for Brian Deacon who is now better known for playing Neil Kincaid in the British soap "Emmerdale" back in the 1990s. It's always amusing to see where TV actors started off especially when they still exude that "I bet they were famous in the '70s" aura about them. Another recognisable face is his onscreen girlfriend here, Sally Faulkner, who, interestingly, has gone on to star in many of the same TV shows as Brian Deacon since.

Reading through the cast list reveals several bigger names who you can barely imagine being associated with a horror film like this (including Michael Byrne from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade") though most of them didn't achieve much outside of television. The big star of "Vampyres" was Murray Brown and he appeared to quit acting entirely only a few years later.

If any of this nostalgia interests you then you should definitely check out the director's commentary on the DVD as it is quite entertaining. José Ramón Larraz has made a ton of Spanish movies and quite a few horrors though not in a good way. He's not quite in the same category as Jess Franco as he does have a couple of good films to his name but finding them in any format might be quite difficult. Anybody who has seen all of them has both my respect and my pity even though I'd love to own a "Larraz DVD Collector's Set" myself.

I didn't actually hate "Vampyres" but it was one of those instantly forgettable films that you don't really want to watch again for some time if you can help it. When you realise how many much better horror films were available in the mid-1970s, it makes it all considerably weaker. Even the sex scenes which were meant to sell this are so constrained by the censorship of the time that they are a bit tedious and boring.

If you wanted to really amuse yourself you could watch "Girly" (1970) and imagine that this is what happened to their house five years after the 'family" had moved on and bisexual vampires moved in instead.

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