Pete Stein asked for this movie and I was happy to write about it. Hope he enjoys this.
Created before Polanski’s U.S. debut, Rosemary’s Baby, this film marketed by MGM as a farce, with twelve minutes cut from the film, an animated prologue added and both of the protagonists dubbed with cartoony and silly voices. This version was retitled from Dance of the Vampires to The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck.
That’s the version of the film that I’ve seen and was the one most commonly seen in the U.S. until it vanished from circulation in the mid-1970’s.
In the early 1980s, MGM found the original cut and released it. This version has garnered new interest and better opinions of the film. I probably need to see that one to properly evaluate the film, but I’m not certain I could make it through this one again.
Overall, it just feels too cute.
It’s all about the adventures of the ancient Professor Abronsius and his apprentice Alfred, who is played by Polanski. They bumbled their way through just about everything they do, which some would take as comedic, but I took as boring and cloying.
They end up in a village filled with angry townsfolk who constantly engage in occult rituals to keep the vampires away. Alfred falls in love with the tavern owner’s daughter Sarah, but who can blame him? The best part of this movie is the doomed Sharon Tate, who owns every second she’s on screen.
The vampiric Count von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne, who was God in Night Train to Terror) captures her and even turns her father into a vampire. Soon, a convention of vampires and the Count’s gay son all come into the story. Yet our heroes are never heroic and simply fail their way to the end of the movie.
Again, maybe I need to check out the real version. But I’ve always found this to be too cheeky. I know that’s the intention and perhaps it’s just dated. Then again, a few hours of Sharon Tate isn’t the worst thing.