“Does this kind of thing excite you.”
From director Jose Ramon Larraz, this made in England thriller is for me the best of the erotic “lesbian” vampire thrillers that were in vogue during the early seventies. I find it surpasses the Hammer films with Ingrid Pitt while staying the course of an outright vampire thriller versus the more artistic venture, Daughters of Darkness from director Harry Kumel. Let me also add that I love revisiting all these films but if forced to pick just one then Marianne Morris and Anulka win me over with their mysterious good looks luring me into a bizarre fantasy until the truth of their existence becomes a reality.
Vampyres is not for the squeamish. It could even be considered a soft core pornography film of the era but it quickly turns into a hard core horror film before the final scenes play out.
“Can you give us a lift. It’s not far.”
The premise is a simple one. Two attractive vampires prey upon men passing them by on a country road not far from an abandoned mansion they claim as their own. The promise of sex all but condemns the men to their fate. Actor Murray Brown is the man that finds himself lured by Miss Morris to the run down house that is actually Oakley Court. The mansion can be seen in numerous films including The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Murder By Death and multiple Hammer Film Productions. The love making will soon begin with plenty of exposed flesh before we’re to see that Murray is to become Marianne’s personal blood bank.
Also brought into the plot are a young couple traveling on holiday who take up residence on the grounds near the mansion in their trailer. Played by Brian Deacon and Sally Faulkner, it is Sally who is going to take notice of the mysterious ladies who wander through the estate’s woods and fade into the cemetery’s fog in the early morning sunrise. Brown will soon find himself in a weakened state the following morning and shocked to discover a large gash on his arm. He has no recollection of the end result of his drunken night of passion with Morris other than to wonder if there was someone else in the house.
He’ll find out on night number two when Morris convinces him to stay again for more sexual escapades. Lovely Anulka has also turned up with a man of her own and these sexy, mysterious ladies are about to unveil just how vicious they can be when they swarm over the poor fair haired date Anulka has brought home. It’s a bloody affair and quickly spoils the sexual fantasy aspect of the film from the male perspective. As this is a “lesbian” vampire tale, the two lovely’s will indulge in some petting themselves on a couple occasions which I’m sure was a production requisite ordered by the film’s backers. One using a shower as a backdrop (running water kills vampires I thought) and the other after feasting on poor Murray. Not quite a threesome but then it’s not a full on hard core sex flick starring Linda Lovelace.
The violence and terror only escalates for the latter half of the film. Not only does it still hold up but it’s quite disturbing. As I’ve said earlier, it’s not for the squeamish but I’ll take this style of vampire flick over most anything movie makers pitch at us today when it comes to tales of the undead feeding on the blood of the living. I find it rather sad that Vampyres advertising campaign is geared towards the sex market more than the genre it belongs in which is the horror film itself. It’s effectively shot with plenty of eerie images to admire. A sign of the times I suppose with the pornographic movie market making strides in the public arena of the 1970’s.
I first saw this title years ago on a VHS rental and knew that this was something Mom wouldn’t approve of. Way too much skin. That was surely exciting to me at the time but damn, this scared the hell out of me and even today still has it’s moments. I was probably about thirteen or so upon that first viewing. It would be a number of years till the film resurfaced on DVD and then blu ray here in Canada from Blue Underground. I have no idea if the VHS version I viewed back in the 80’s was as “complete” as the recent editions are meaning the nudity so if I do come across a copy of that VHS edition, I’ll have to revisit it to compare the two.
Actor Murray Brown more or less plays a Jonathan Harker role here as the man caught in a web of vampire brides and unable to escape his captors. Noting that, it shouldn’t be all that surprising to find out he did in fact play the Harker role the same year opposite Jack Palance’s masterful take on the Dracula role for Dan Curtis’ TV production of the Stoker novel. As for our leading ladies, Marianne and Anulka? They had short careers and I’ve never seen them in any other film or TV appearance.
Maybe they were just mystical figures after all and not of this world that will only revisit me upon my next viewing of this title I number among my horror film favorites.