Vampyres (1974)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on January 14, 2022 and has been updated for this post.

José Ramón Larraz went to school for philosophy, became a comic book writer and then made some wild movies, like Whirlpool, which Roger Ebert negatively reviewed — I mean, I love it — by saying that it was ga enuinely sickening film. It has to do with various varieties of sex, yes, but its main appeal seems to be its violence… The violence is not, however, the cathartic sort to be found in The Wild Bunch or the comic strip spaghetti Westerns. It’s a particularly grisly sort of violence, photographed for its own sake and deliberately relishing in its ugliness. It made me awfully uneasy.” He also directed the Spanish Western Watch Out Gringo! Sabata Will ReturnThe House That Vanished (which had so many titles, including Scream…And Die! and Please! Don’t Go in the Bedroom, as well as a campaign that made it look like Last House on the Left), SymptomsStigmaBlack Candles (AKA Sex Rites of the Devil) and three American co-productions before the end of his career, the underrated Edge of the AxeRest in Pieces and Deadly Manor.

The film starts with its leads, Fran (Marianne Morris) and Miriam (Anulka Dziubinska, billed here as Anulka; a former Page 3 girl who was the Playboy Playmate of the Month for May 1973, she was once married to Soupy Sales’ son Tony, who was in Tin Machine with David Bowie, Reeves Gabriels and his brother Hunt Sales) in bed together, which was probably quite shocking in 1974, but perhaps even more shocking is when they’re machine gunned before the credits.

They’re brought back as vampires that roam the British countryside and take in wayward male motorists, draining them of more than blood before disposing of these conquests. They have a different form of vampirism than you may have seen before, making grisly arm wounds that they continually feed from, closer to cannibals than bloodsuckers.

Morris and Anulka make quite the pair; the film is in love with everything they do. Beyond the gorgeous leads, the scenery is just as inviting, as this was not around Oakley Court, which Hammer used for The Man in Black, The Lady Craved Excitement, The Brides of Dracula, The Reptile and The Plague of the Zombies. William Castle shot The Old Dark House there and you’ll also see it in films like Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and GirlyAnd Now the Screaming Starts! and perhaps most famously, it was the home of Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. While it had no heat or running water when that movie was filmed, it’s now a luxury hotel.

This played double features with The Devil’s Rain! in England, which is my kind of night.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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