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Vampyres (2015)
Director: Victor Matellano

review by David Dent

Vampyres, Victor Matellano's re-boot, or re-imagining, or re-animation, or re-something of Jose Ramon Larraz's babes 'n' blood oddity of the same title raises one question, before, during, and after viewing. 'Why?' Those familiar with the original film, which is surely the only audience likely to be remotely interested in this movie, will know the story: two polymorphously perverse 'vampire' women, Fran and Miriam, prey on passing travellers, and detain one unlucky chap, Ted, for their sex and bloodletting pleasure.

Larraz's low on plot, high on atmosphere flick was very much the product of a foreign director working in the UK, making the familiar English countryside and the much filmed turrets of Hammer favourite Oakley Court look strange and unusual. The 1974 Vampyres was also daring (for a 'mainstream' movie anyway) in its depiction of sexual passion and the link to bloodshed, having more in common with the works of Jean Rollin or Jess Franco than anything the UK was producing at the time.

So Matellano's decision to recreate this film, if not exactly shot-for-shot, then in a scene-for-scene manner and with much of the same dialogue, is quite frankly bizarre. That he has about an ounce of the talent Larraz showed in his series of UK filmed horrors adds insult to injury, although it seems that the original director endorsed the re-make prior to his death in 2013, which shows how long this movie's been in the making.

Cast in the roles so sensually filled by Marianne Morris and Anulka Dziubinska in the original movie, our vampires in the new film are played by the charisma-free Marta Flitch and Almudena Leon. Neither are given very much to do, and although both are happy enough to disrobe, it seems almost uncharitable to comment that only one of them seems particularly 'into it' when it comes to the girl on girl scenes. Their total lack of eroticism or presence is a serious act of miscasting, particularly when you know whose shoes you have to fill. Oh and it's good to see that breast augmentation has spread to the world of the undead.

The other younger cast members (they're referred to as 'the youngsters' in the film but that's a relative term here) are a mix of Spanish and English actors, and there's dubbing aplenty to reduce all the performances to a uniform level of mediocrity. There's also a smattering of older thespians, all with dubious horror credentials. May Heatherley (Cannibal Apocalypse) features in a few scenes, helpfully credited as 'woman' - sadly this would be her last film; Conrado San Martin (The Awful Dr Orlof) is 'husband'; and as for the casting of poor Caroline Munro as the local hotel owner (again no character name, just 'hotel owner'), it looks like she had to find her own role rather than get any direction, and therefore does nothing to convince the audience that she's acquired much acting ability since her 1970s and 1980s glory years.

Matellano seems to think that by the inclusion of these stars of yesteryear he will instantly attract the horror movie fan (although he may think Munro was a bigger star than she actually was by giving her first billing in the opening titles). And his recruiting of veteran makeup artist Colin Arthur (Clash Of The Titans) at least meant that Ms Munro had a familiar face to talk to between scenes.

If Larraz's original film was made in the UK by a Spaniard, the remake flips this on its head by being made by a Spaniard in Spain but (I think) pretending it's the UK. So there's a left-hand drive car with a UK license plate and a few passing references to Blighty and, er, that's it. There's no attempt to disguise that fact that it was filmed near Madrid, and the vampires' hideout, far from the gothic ruins of Oakley Court, is now a breeze-block built townhouse.

Oh and before I sign off writing about this abomination, a word about the soundtrack. Matellano's version of Vampyres features songs. Really awful songs; sung by a Spaniard who I'm guessing does not have English as a second, third or even 19th singing language, so comprehensively does he mangle every vowel and consonant that comes out of his mouth. So, if your idea of modern horror is to see two uninteresting (and uninterested) women writhing about while someone performs a song of mind numbing tedium over the top, then step this way. No, after you, I insist.


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