The next title I exhume from the grave for DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies book by director John Landis is an Italian film that got chopped up by North American censors to remove any untoward imagery (like nudity) to make it suitable for what they saw as the viewing audience… the matinee crowd.
A bevy of ballerinas in a remote Italian village train and work to perfect their craft (so expect a dance number or two) but the legends and rumours of a vampire in the area causes them some consternation.
When it turns out to be true, a pair of dancers, Luisa (Helene Remy) and Francesca (Tina Gloriani) and their friend Luca (Isarco Ravaioli) find themselves the target of Herman the Vampire (Walter Brandi) – though how one can take a vampire with a name like that seriously is beyond me.
In a castle at the centre of a spooky wood, the trio find the lovely Countess (Maria Luisa Rolando) and her servant… Herman. And what we learn is a bit of an odd relationship. Herman hunts down victims, the ballerinas offer up a virtual smorgasbord, he seduces them (which should be difficult considering his appearance (a ridiculous mask)) and feeds off them.
Then, in turn, he lets the Countess, whom he proclaims to love, feed off of him. He’s kept her prisoner in the castle in this fashion for four hundred years. And now, our trio have stumbled into the middle of it.
Who will see out the night, and who will die in the burning light of the dawn? You’ve got to wait ninety minutes to find out, but, I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
It’s the first vampire film in a while that I’ve seen that allows the vampires some supernatural powers, including telepathy, and there is definitely a sensual angle to the seduction that befalls both Luisa and Luca and the undead pair’s hands.
The film is very much a product of it’s time while setting up countless horror films that would follow in its bloody foot prints. And while the make-up effects for the vampires there are some nice locations, and some nice concepts; including one of the vampire’s victims watching her funeral, from inside her coffin.
Overall, I rather liked this one. I would have loved to see the uncut original film, but this one was a pretty enjoyable entry into the Vampire chapter of Monsters in the Movies, available now from DK Books.
Pick one up today, and sink your fangs into something macabre tonight!