The Film (3.5/5)
Since I saw my first Fulci film, I have been obsessed with Eurohorror. Luckily, my local chain video store had a good deal of Eurohorror fare sitting on the shelves of their various stores around town. I was not a discerning video brat, and would rent anything from horror/sci-fi, especially if it was European, and I hadn't already seen it. Vampyres was one of the films I stumbled across during that time.
It may have been because of the reference to the Lost Boys, or the promise of ample nudity on the cover, but I had to rent it. I remember it was one of a few films in the horror section that could only be rented by people over the age of 18. Luckily, I was in good with the staff, and they would let me rent pretty much anything, and so it was in these conditions I first saw Vampyres.
I remember digging into it right away. It felt like a cross between the Hammer vampire films I obsessed over the last few years, mixed with the violent splatter of the European horror films, I had just begun to discover.
Vampyres is probably the best of the European erotic vampire films of the early 70's. A genre populated by Hammer's Karnstein trilogy(Vampire Lovers, Lust for a Vampire, Twins of Evil), Jess Franco's Vampyros Lesbos, Daughter of Darkness, and the early vampire films of Jean Rollin. Even with this competition, it truly stands out as one of, if not, the best film of this cycle.
Vampyres as a film oozes with a wonderful gothic atmosphere. The director Jose Larraz uses his budgetary limitations to his advantages, taking the castle and it's ground, and making it a character in the film much like Kubrick did for The Shining's Overlook Hotel. There are some slower parts throughout the film, and there are some confusing moments strewn throughout the plot, such as how Ted and Harriet are previously associated with the vampyres.
Vampyres tells the story of 2 vampire hitchhikers Fran and Miriam. Everyday they catch a ride with an unsuspecting person, and request to be taken home to a local castle. These people are then seduced, and intoxicated by the duo, before finally being killed by them. One of their victim's is a traveling businessman named Ted. Ted is taken captive by Fran, however, instead of Fran killing him immediately she slowly drains the life from him over the course of a few days.
While this is going on outside the castle, a young couple is spending a few days of their holiday on the castle grounds painting, fishing, and resting. The young woman of the couple, begins to wonder about Ted, Fran, and Miriam, as she observes them going to and from the castle. This wonder turns to obsession, as the film plays out, and leads this young innocent couple into the vampires grasp.
I skipped a generation with Vampyres, the last time I saw this film was on a VHS tape sometime in the late 90's. The blu-ray from Blue Underground looks absolutely fantastic, and is presented in a 1080p anamorphic widescreen transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio. The colors pop on this Blu-ray from the green of the castle lawn to the blood of...well everyone.
Blue Underground has offered up three audio options, A Dolby True HD 7.1 mix a Dolby Digital mono track, which is what Vampyres was originally presented with, and a DD-EX 5.1 track, all of which are in English. Since I am not yet 7.1 compatible, I utilized the 5.1 track for my screening and was impressed. Dialogue and music are well balanced, and there does not appear to be any grain or background noise on the track.
The extras are slim on this set, but what we have here is very interesting to long time fans of the film. The main extra is a commentary track by Vampyres director Jose Larraz, and the films producer Brian Smedley-Aston. There commentary is both informative, and very funny. The only other notable extra on the DVD is an interview segment with the Vampyres themseleves Marianne Morris and Anulka.
Vampyres is a 70's Eurohorror classic. It is a wonderfully atmospheric gothic horror with a great soundtrack, and an interesting premise. The transfer is outstanding, and the audio (esp. the awesome soundtrack) burst from your speakers. The extras are slim, but what Blue Underground have given us in this set is excellent. For those that haven't seen the film, this BD would make a fine introduction, for longtime fans this is a must.