Blood of the Innocent – Rediscovering ‘Vampyres’ (UK 1974 – 88 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - February 27, 2014
Blood of the Innocent – Rediscovering ‘Vampyres’ (UK 1974 – 88 mins)

Made at a time when the Hammer Studios were still putting out their own vampire flicks, Spanish director José Ramón Larraz’s 1974 ‘Vampyres’, must have come as a bit of a shock. A full-on, blood-soaked horror, with abundant nudity, it’s an in-your-face shocker, impressively shot and occasionally dreamlike.

Hidden deep within the English countryside, Fran and Miriam, two beautiful, bisexual vampires, lure innocent victims to their country manor for orgies of sex, before finally killing them. After dispatching with a rich playboy, their next, unsuspecting targets appear to be a young holidaying couple, John and Harriet, who unfortunately make the bad decision of camping on their land. That’s about it plot-wise, but there is certainly enough here to keep horror fans entertained. These thirsty females seem to relish in their bloodletting, with throat slitting’s and neck biting’s shown in full gory detail. The movie does have a certain elegance to it however, and there are some nicely shot exterior scenes of the cloaked couple, wandering the leafy surroundings, searching for their prey.

Marianne Morris and former Playboy playmate Anulka Dziubinska, make a great duo, with the alluring Anulka the more mysterious of the two. This was 24 year old Morris’ sole horror, having been seen in mainly British sex comedies, such as 1972’s ‘The Wife Swappers’, and as a beauty contestant in the dire ‘Percy’s Progress’ (’74). Blonde beauty Anulka, a former model, made her debut here, and is both effective and appealing as the mysterious Miriam. Anulka followed this film with a part in Ken Russell’s ‘Lisztomania’ (’75), and after a few TV spots on shows such as ‘Magnum, P.I’ and ‘Falcon Crest’, she retired from movies, and later moved to California, where she worked as a florist in Hollywood.

Sally Faulkner and Brian Deacon play the unfortunate vacationing couple. As Harriet, Faulkner is very good and plays her frightened character convincingly. Sally’s career took off in 1968 with a recurring role in ‘Doctor Who’, and after a couple of silly sex comedies (‘I’m Not Feeling Myself Tonight’, and ‘Confessions of a Driving Instructor’- both ’76), she starred as a lesbian in the cult Sci-fi horror; ‘Prey’ (’78). Brian Deacon made his screen debut in 1972, with the cult drama ‘Triple Echo’, and later had a part, alongside his brother Eric, in Peter Greenaway’s art-house classic; ‘A Zed & Two Noughts’ (’85). Other unsuspecting victims were played by respected character actors Murray Brown and Michael Byrne, and Larraz regular Karl Lanchbury. Incidentally, the old lady who plays the American tourist at the end of the movie, is played by former silent movie star Bessie Love, whose final film would turn out to be another cult vampire tale, the Catherine Deneuve starrer; ‘The Hunger’ (’83).

Spanish exploitation director José Ramón Larraz previously made the obscure Angela Pleasence horror ‘Symptoms’, and then the cult horror ‘The House that Vanished’ (’75), another moody tale set amongst an old country manor. Larraz later made the interesting psychic thriller ‘Stigma’ (’80) with Alexandra Bastedo, and also the 1982 English set satanic horror; ‘Black Candles’, starring sexy German redhead, Helga Liné. The simple yet effective piano score is by James Kenelm Clarke, who went on to direct the notorious thriller;’Expose’ (’76), with Linda Hayden and Udo Kier.

A bloody, erotic take on the modern vampire myth, ‘Vampyres’ is a grim, yet agreeable tale of murder and lust. It’s exploitation for sure, but actually not as sordid as it sounds, and is a very well made euro-horror. It also has a certain Seventies charm to it, and with a degree of elegance and style, it remains an entertaining, if sometimes slow moving oddity – Just not for all tastes!

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