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