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SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES

This Italian vampire fest hails from 1962, the era of pastaland horror classics like BLACK SUNDAY and THE HORRIBLE DR. HITCHCOCK. An unauthorized take on DRACULA, SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES isn’t very good, but has amassed a following due, I’m assuming, to the fact that it’s so old.

The Package
     This film is known as, variously, LE MASSACRE DES VAMPIRES, LA STRAGE DEI VAMPIRI, CURSE OF THE BLOOD GHOULS, VAMPIRE HOMME OU FEMME? and SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES, the title under which it was released on DVD by Dark Sky Films.
     The director was Roberto Mauri, a prolific sleazemeister whose resume includes ZORIKAN THE BARBARIAN, NIGHT OF VIOLENCE, KING OF KONG ISLAND and THE PORNO KILLERS. The cast members’ credits are equally noteworthy for horror film buffs, with star Walter Brandi having appeared in THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA, THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE and BLOODY PIT OF HORROR, co-star Graziella Granata in CURSE OF THE BLOOD GHOULS and A TASTE FOR WOMEN, and Germany’s Dieter Eppler in THE HEAD, THE STRANGLER OF BLACKMOOR CASTLE and THE TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM.

The Story
     Wolfgang and Louise are a well-to-do young couple. At a party Louise falls under the spell of a suave vampire who later pays her a nocturnal visit. From there Louise grows increasingly sickly, and the local doctor can’t seem to cure her. He does, however, recommend the services of Professor Nietzsche, a determined vampire hunter.
     Before Nietzsche can do his business Louise disappears from her room. She’s been kidnapped by the vampire, of course, and turns back up as a bloodsucker herself. As such she bites Wolfgang but is interrupted in the act by Nietzsche, who promptly gives Wolfgang a blood transfusion that removes all traces of vampirism from his system.
     This, however, doesn’t stop Louise, nor her vampire master; the two make more than one subsequent attempt at vampirizing Wolfgang, and also Razie, a little girl living in the area.

The Direction
     Some good moments can be found in this otherwise lackluster film, including a highly atmospheric early bit in which the vampire spies on Louise through bushes outside her house, and a later scene in which Louise stalks Wolfgang through a courtyard at night. Graziella Granata is quite alluring as the vampirized Louise, and makes for an extremely compelling sight. Her co-star Dieter Eppler, as the vampire, has been compared to Christopher Lee, but I say the comparison is unjust; Eppler does plenty of glowering, to be sure, but lacks the conviction and transcendent screen presence that Lee brought to his roles.
     The film is crippled by a highly derivative and uneventful narrative whose debts to DRACULA are all-too-evident. Another annoyance is the crummy English dubbing (the voice of a “little girl” character is especially appalling), in which form, unfortunately, SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES is currently available on DVD.
     I’ll say this for the film: the black and white photography is far better than the material deserves, making superbly evocative use of shadows and darkness. The stylistically varied score by Ennio Morricone is also striking, if a bit distracting.

 
Vital Statistics

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES (LA STRAGE DEI VAMPIRI, CURSE OF THE BLOOD GHOULS, VAMPIRE HOMME OU FEMME?)
Mercurfilm

Director: Roberto Mauri
Producer: Dino Sant’Ambrogio
Screenplay: Roberto Mauri
Cinematography: Ugo Brunelli
Editing: Jenner Menghi
Cast: Walter Brandy, Dieter Eppler, Graziella Granata, Paolo Solvay, Gena Gimmy, Alfredo Rizzo, Edda Ferronao, Maretta Procaccini  

     

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