Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Vampyres (1974)

It is weird how fate/the gods/Obama take care of business.  Just after a disappointing experience with Malabimba, the random Excel spreadsheet offers one of the finest examples of erotic horror ever made.  We kick off with a scene so steamy that it would even jolt Ben Carson awake.


These are our vampyres, who are dispatched with a gun in this sexy snuffy prologue.  After the credits, they reappear in cloaks and boots, haunting the roadways for potential victims.  The plot is actually pretty simple, but thankfully our simple story is brought to life by underrated Spanish director Jose Ramon Larroz.  Larroz is more concerned with slow burns and atmosphere than stuffing the movie with shocks and gore, and it really works well.   


Tip your hat to Marianne Morris as the lead vamp, too.  She gives a fun arch performance and also displays pretty much her entire anatomy over the course of the film, which is very fun, too.


So let's talk about vampyres.  Unfortunately, when this was re-released on VHS in the 80s, the box had the tag line "They're lost girls!"  Which would make no sense to a non-elderly person now, since few remember The Lost Boys, aside from great-aunts and the like.  It's unfortunate that Vampyres got stuck with that comparison because A) it's a much better movie than Lost Boys and B) the vampirism here is a lot more ambiguous.  These "vampires" don't have fangs, they run around in the sunlight, and they mostly use cutting implements to draw blood.  Are they really vampires?  Are they the ghosts which the epilogue suggests?  The movie wisely doesn't explain.


If academics could somehow stop producing reams of post-Derrida gibberish, they might find Vampyres to be fertile ground for exploration.  This is a 70s movie, but it totally inverts the typical horror-movie structure.  The ladies take charge completely and the dudes are mostly weakened victims here.  Lady vampires do have a storied history, but they're generally adjuncts in the Dracula household in these movies.  But these vamps don't just hiss like cats or hang out in dusty kitchens, they're strong independent vampires who blaze paths all their own.  And the one played by Marianne Morris uses her tongue so much that it should receive its own credit.  


Has there been erotic horror worth watching since 1980 or so?  Embrace of the Vampire kind of tried, but relied way too much on the novelty of topless Alyssa Milano.  And let's not even speak the forbidden name of Witchcraft 1-23.  For this kind of thing, the 70s are the richest source and this film is one of the better examples.  Very overlooked and very worth your time.


***1/2

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