Sunday, 18 September 2011

Shocking! Horrifying! Macabre!

‘The Kiss Of The Vampire’ (1963) was Hammer’s second ‘no Dracula’ Dracula sequel, even dispensing this time with the Van Helsing character.

In this film, a honeymooning couple visit romantic Bavaria, only to fall under the baleful influence of a creepy patriarch and his equally odd kids who live in a scary castle. Make no mistake, this family are vampires, but they are also presented as decadents, devil worshippers and sexual perverts – the neck biting seems to have developed as a sideline.

Without Van Helsing, the vanquishing duties fall to the dour Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans), a man who has made a lifetime study of the occult and is part professor, part magus. The scene where he interrupts a funeral to plunge a sharpened shovel into the coffin is brilliant, especially when the blood starts to seep out. It is Zimmer’s arcane knowledge that saves the day when he utters an incantation that turns the castle occupants evil against them and they are immediately engulfed in a cloud (the correct plural term, fact fans) of hungry bats. These bats, poorly animated for long shots, rubber and on strings for close ups, make the film’s climax a pretty silly affair but don’t mar the enjoyment of this minor but rather charming entry in the Hammer catalogue.

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