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Vampyres (1974)
Director: Joseph (alias: José) Larraz

review by Steven Hampton

Horror film fans in the UK should note that this DVD from enterprising Anchor Bay is uncut, and so includes the three minutes of sex and violence cut by British censors - an emasculated release which Spanish director, Larraz, sardonically refers to as the "Vatican version."
   Shot on location near the famous Hammer studio/house, with a few scenes set on those genre-hallowed floors, Vampyres (aka: Daughters Of Dracula) is a deliriously sensual, black comedy shocker about two glamorous ladies of the night (Marianne Morris and Anulka) who prey on hapless men - and women - to feed their cravings for sex and blood. It's the explicit linking of eroticism with vampires that caused headaches for UK censors back in the (unenlightened) 1970s, as Larraz brings the 'aesthetic of the bullfight' to the blood soaked murder scenes.
   Vampyres offers a full measure of naked flesh, and pours on the red stuff as if the filmmakers had an unlimited supply. There are many great scenes, and plenty of imaginatively unreal visuals here - redhead Morris' ample cleavage, and mouth dripping with blood, while petite blonde Anulka lurks wraith-like in the shadows. Their incongruous dark evening dresses and 'traditional' cloaks flap in the wind as the hungry pair tramp (oh, excuse that pun!) through woodlands in search of victims - enticing passing motorists on lonely back roads back to the silent rooms of a richly decorated old house where time stands still. Unpredictable handheld camera shots adding a sudden threatening motion to languid bedroom antics.
   More in tune with stylish and surreal Italian cinema than story driven English-speaking varieties, Vampyres is camp, sexy, weird, and dazzling in its depictions of generic mystery, gothic romance and savage lust.
   Region '0' DVD extras: scene finder in 21 chapters, talent biographies, gallery of stills, two trailers, plus absorbing commentary by the director with producer Brian Smedley-Aston.
previously published online, VideoVista #20
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