Dance of the Vampires (1967)
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First thing that striked me was beautiful music by Komeda. I was in total awe. The music was scary, but at the same time so light and funny - just like for a good fair story. And then the beautiful winter scenery that was so fake - almost cartooning. Few minutes into the movie, and I could say "that's what I call movie poetry".
The story is so simple. The old bat researcher, professor Abronsius and his assistant, Alfred, go to a remote Transylvanian village looking for vampires. They stay in house where no one speaks about vampires, but the garlic is hanging everywhere. Simplistic story is so right for this movie, because acting, scenery, music, cinematography are all in top shape here. For composition I think this is one of the best movie done by Polanski, next to "Tenant" for sure.
And this movie is also a rare occasion to see Polanski in comedic role. He and Brach make unforgettable duo. I was totally entertain when in came to comedy in this movie, but the thing that surprise me the most was the action factor. There is one scene that is great example of that - when Polanski character is looking through keyhole and is so scared of what he see that his face is screaming "terror". It's sure funny, but in a way mad-scary too. And when I think about this movie - this scene sums it up for me.
Its very funny, but little outdated movie. For me one a few really cinematic fairy tales, that keeps magic all the way to the end. Its up there with Repulsion, Tenant, and Tess when in comes to greatest work of this director.
And just think about brilliant ending, so funny, so mad. It's a shame Polanski hasn't made another comedy. Don't get me started with Pirates - the most unfunny movie in history. But "Fearless Vampire Killers " is movie magic - pure and simple.
In 1983 MGM/UA Home Video released Polanski's original cut on cassette and on laserdisc (remember those?). On laserdisc it was letterboxed so you could enjoy the full Panavision frame, and included the alternate main title sequences from the bastardized version as an extra. For some reason, though I wasn't a fan of the film, I thought this was a disc I had to get, but after I first viewed it I wondered if I hadn't wasted my money. I still couldn't see what was so great about it. However, I didn't get rid of the disc and over the past nine years I've viewed the movie several times. I can't remember when I started to appreciate it, but now "The Fearless Vampire Killers" is one of my favorite movies.
Right from the main title sequence this film is really quite wonderful. Christopher Komeda's score is weird and haunting. The day-for-night shots of the snowy countryside are a bit distracting, but kind of fit the fairy tale quality of the film's isolated, late 19th century Transylvanian winter never land. The movie is extremely well-mounted with wonderful sets, especially the vampires' castle. All the performances are excellent. Jack MacGowran's Professor Abronsius is an absolutely incredible characterization, unlike anything else MacGowran ever did on film. The same is true of Alfie Bass' Yoine Shagal, possibly the world's first Jewish vampire, and a terrible lecher. Sharon Tate was probably never lovelier than in this movie, and Roman Polanski is very good as Alfred, in fact amazing when you consider he was also directing. It is a tour de force on his part. Finally, Ferdy Mayne's Count Von Krolock is a king vampire equal to any screen Dracula, while Iain Quarrier is also appropriately creepy as his gay vampire son, Herbert.
Like the drinking of blood (I would imagine!), appreciation of "The Fearless Vampire Killers" is very much an acquired taste. I don't know what to say to those that don't like it except, Why don't you try watching it again? It might grow on you as it did me. This movie also has one of the best one-sheet posters from the sixties, with art by Frank Frazetta. I hope this movie comes to DVD soon, especially with commentary by Polanski, but I've read that MGM considers the elements in need of restoration, so it may be a while. However, it should look great when it does get to DVD. I can't wait.
I always will remember this film as "Dance of the Vampires" ALSO,CONGRATULATIONS to Mr Polanski for the Palme D' Or, he deserves it(without him just cinema "boring")
I enjoyed poetic scenes such as like moment in Sarah's bath comparing the textures of first soap bubbles, then falling snowflakes, and finally crimson blood. when Alfred(Polanski) carries his master across the castle battlements remind me of Polanski early short films. Krystov Komeda's music has been acclaimed as "the most innovative and haunting score ever devised for a horror movie" by the heavyweight Aurum Film Encyclopedia. Krystof Komeda's wondrous music, with its weird choral effects and little melodies Komeda's score communicates the Kafka-like isolation of the setting and the characters
Polanski chose some of the finest English cinema craft artists to work on the film: cameraman Douglas Slocombe, production designer Wilfrid Shingleton Polanski engaged noted choreographer Tutte Lemkow, who played the actual Fiddler in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, for the film's climactic Danse Macabre minuet.
Sharon Tate as Sarah was delightful(we should remember her in a good way,as a decent actress and person,her scene with Polanski is really cool ,especially "the bite scene") Jack MacGowran as Professor Abronsius is just great Polanski's films often deal in contrasts of master and servant, the empowered and the powerless. The supposedly benign Abronsius bullies Alfred for his own purposes, just as the vampires consider all of humankind a resource to be harvested.
The character called Shagal got the best lines in the movie,when A woman thrusts a crucifix in his face, only for Shagal - a Jewish rather than a Christian vampire - to go "Oy-yoy! You got the wrong vampire" and bite her anyway Count Von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne, who plays the Count)he looks really as a Nosferatu or a man that needs Transfusion!.
Also funny is Herbert, the openly gay vampire who is interested in Alfred rather than Sara, the sexual deviations implicit in early Hammer films like The Brides of Dracula (1960) and Kiss of the Vampire (1964) are brought out. Hammer would increasingly exploit this in their lesbian
In the heart of Transylvania Professor Abronsius and his apprentice Alfred are on the hunt for vampires. Abronsius is old and withering and barely able to survive the cold ride through the wintry forests, while Alfred is bumbling and introverted. The two hunters come to a small Eastern European town seemingly at the end of a long search for signs of vampires. The two stay at a local inn, full of angst-ridden townspeople who perform strange rituals to fend off an unseen evil. Whilst staying at the inn, Alfred develops a fondness for Sarah, the daughter of the tavern keeper Yoine Shagal. After witnessing Sarah being kidnapped by the local vampire lord, Count von Krolock, the two follow his snow trail, leading them to Krolock's ominous castle in the snow-blanketed hills nearby. They break into the castle, but are trapped by the Count's hunchback servant, Koukol. Despite misgivings, Abronsius and Alfred accept the Count's invitation to stay in his ramshackle Gothic castle, where Alfred spends the night fitfully. After finding Sarah the next day, they come up with a plan to destroy the count and save Sarah, but with a midnight ball in the mix of vampires, the plans might be a bit harder than they realized.
I think one of the funniest scenes in film history is when Roman Polanski is being chased by Count Krolock's feminine vampire son, Herbert. The seduction scene before that was too funny, but let's add Roman running around in a circle oblivious that he did just go around in a circle and runs right back into Herbert! The comedic timing was just gold! Sharon Tate is also in this film and she is just beautiful, you could see how Roman would fall in love with her on and off screen so easily. It's really sad that we lost her so young and so tragically, you see the talent that could have been. I also love Jack MacGowran, he's calm exterior to Roman's scaredy cat routine was the perfect balance the film needed. I nearly die laughing each time I see the scene where they are in the Count's bedroom about to stake him, but Jack gets stuck in the window and Roman chickens out on killing the count. He has to go around the castle to pull Jack out but gets distracted by Sharon Tate and when he finally realizes that he left Jack in the same room with blood sucking vampires, he just reeks with the "Oops!" face. The ballroom scene is so memorable, again, the comedic timing is great. Another thing about this film is that it also has some great scares in it too, some great make up effects with the Count. I highly recommend this film; I've been watching it since I was a little girl, I still love watching it all these years later and can't wait to show it to others as well.
"Dance of the Vampires" is my favorite parody of vampire movies ever. The first time I saw it on the 60's or 70's, I felt in love for Sharon Tate and for this movie. I have watched "Dance of the Vampires" many times, and the last time was on 08 June 2003, when I voted ten (10) in IMDb. Yesterday I saw "Dance of the Vampire" again, and now I found it a little dated but still excellent. The beauty of Sharon Tate is still very impressive and very few actresses in cinema history are as beautiful as she. Roman Polanski performing an awkward assistant; Jack MacGowran in the role of the dedicated professor that accidentally "spread the evil around the world"; Alfie Bass in the role of the wolf inn-keeper Shagal; Terry Downes and his unforgettable servant Koukol; Ian Quarries and his performance as Herbert, the gay vampire-son of the count; and Ferdy Mayne in the role of the creepy Count von Krolock, all of them are still awesome in their stunning performances. From the arrival of the frozen professor to the village to the departure of the same professor bringing two vampires in his sleigh, there are many hilarious and unforgettable scenes. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "A Dança dos Vampiros" ("The Dance of the Vampires")
Does the reader really need to know all this to appreciate this movie? actually, yes. This film is laughter at death's door. The funniest and most memorable line in the film is from the Jewish vampire, responding to a threatened crucifix: "Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire!" Funny? - Hilarious. Unfortunately, if this Vampire had any grandchildren, they all died in Auschwitz.
Why am I playing such a heavy hand here? Because this really is a great horror-comedy, far better and far more important than the studio hacks at MGM who released this film (after chopping it up) could ever have understood.
There is unfortunately no rumor that there's a director's cut in the vaults; it is well to remember that Polanski nearly disowned this film on release, and really only reclaimed it after the brutal slaying of his wife, who plays such an important role in the film.
But even as shredded as it is (pay especially close attention to the discontinuities involving the Professor), this is still marvelously written, directed, and photographed - truly frightening at moments, utterly hilarious at others, but always grounded in a particularly Polish sensibility which is now, alas, a thing of the past; - the preservation of a culture that, at its best, was among the best in Europe.
Apparently so, but because it is so unique in its approach, it will divide viewers and I happen to fall on the negative side. The story takes too long to set up before it lands at the setting where it is supposed to and Polanski and Jack MacGowran's acting leave something to be desired.
The only true bright spot of the film is the luminous presence of Sharon Tate, who shows with her flaming red hair and soft, pale complexion why Polanski fell for her and the potential she had as an actress. Knowing her grim destiny only adds to the heaviness of this picture, which is certainly one to forget amongst the Polanski oeuvre.
I like both the opening and the ending. Especially the ending, which surprised me and made me want more of the story. What happens next? But it's genius to end like that. And it's the first vampire movie I watched. I also like the funny elements in the movie.
And I really don't want to give too much away, because everything is best experienced freshly (I hadn't even heard of this film before I saw that it was to be on TCM), but, man, watch out for the dance scene. I LOVE Chinatown, but I think, from the three Polanski films that I've seen, that that scene is his crowning achievement. 9/10.
The problem I have with this film is fairly straightforward I don't find it very funny. The humour is very broad and present throughout. It ranges from the clever (a Jewish vampire who is unafraid of a crucifix) to the low-brow (lots of slapstick). It's occasionally amusing but rarely properly funny. So this is a bit of a problem in a film that is first and foremost a comedy. On the plus side it does look pretty, with nice snowbound landscapes and a Gothic castle to look at. The vampire's ball is also very good. But, for me, the single best aspect of Dance of the Vampires is easily Sharon Tate. She is achingly beautiful and provides a very welcome sensuality to proceedings. Her horrible murder two years later at the hands of the Manson Family clearly robbed the film world of someone quite considerable.
Drenched in an atmosphere that's undeniably Baroque, Roman Polanski's effective tour-de-force is also beautiful, with gorgeous cinematography of the surrounding forests and mountains. The last set piece, a notable scene set in the castle's ballroom, has to be seen to be believed.
A True Classic!!
Roman Polanski was reportedly annoyed with the studio editing of the movie so he had his acting credit removed from it. If he hated a movie this good, I'd love to see what his version looked like.
The Good - The sets (particularly the interiors) are really outstanding. The film looks great, both from cinematography and art direction. Sharon Tate is gorgeous. There are one or two moments of actual laughter. There are a couple of really creepy shots that work, but seem out of place in this film. The vampires are played well, and not for laughs for the most part. This one of the things that works in the film.
The Bad - Most of the "humor" would look juvenile in a Three Stooges film. Most scenes DRAG on and on pointlessly. Both of the main male leads are about as annoying as can possibly be. Not enough Sharon Tate.
There are a few interesting bits in this otherwise tedious film. The funniest bit was when the Roman Polanski character runs away from the gay vampire, but doesn't realize he is running in a circle that brings him right back. The joke was set up and shot well, and funnier because the audience can see it coming. The creepiest shot was looking down on the graveyard and the graves begin to open up with vampires creeping out of them. A great shot.
A 3 out of 10 simply for Sharon Tate and the few other positives.
It is asserted that TFVK is a satire of the Hammer Vampire movies. In my life I have seen and enjoyed the Hammer Vampire movies. I had never seen TFVK until now. It took all my might to sit through TFVK to say that I had watched it so that I will never watch it again. As far as satire goes the film is just lame.
Futurama has the episode of "Why Must I Be a Crustacean in love?" which is a satire of "Amok Time." The episode is hilarious. "Young Frankenstein" (YF) is a satire of Frankenstein movies. YF is hilarious. TFVK is just flat out boring.
While watching TFVK a memory came of reading Joseph Heller's "Something Happened" which is a 400+ page book that should be re-titled "Nothing Happened." At the end of a viewing of TFVK the feeling was that "Nothing Happened" after slogging through a lengthy tome\viewing.
Sharon Tate may look very hot in some of the scenes but the scenes are very brief and far and few between. The rest of the movie is filled with a lot of unintelligible jargon spewed by characters who follow "The Idiot Principle" of writing. In the Idiot Principle of writing the characters continue to say and do things that are more stupid than the last thing they did because that is supposedly funny and is the only way to move the plot forward. TFVK follows this conceit in a boring manner until a really stupid climax and denouement occurs.
Some have made mention that all that is missing is Benny Hill music. One can see that as the film plays out and it would only have made the movie better to take a direct Benny Hill approach. It would have at least been a little bit more entertaining.
Arnold Schwarzenegger said in an interview about "The Last Action Hero" that everyone read the script and thought it was great. Then we made the movie and watched and realized "My God...this is awful! And now we have to go out and sell it!" I suspect those that made and bankrolled TFVK probably experienced similar feelings after the created and watched TFVK. It just isn't really that good.
Also, it is one of those movies that looks idiotic at a first glance, but it is not, believe me.
Dance of the Vampires has many good points:
1. A film about Vampires directed by a Polish Holocaust Survivor is in itself even ironic. It is even more ironic to see that the evil Vampires are of German Stock, called "von Krolock", and have some plans to dominate the world¡¡¡ 2. The Jewish Vampire is never allowed to rest in the same place as their German Vampire creators, being portrayed as a second rate vampire, unfit to join the ranks of the "pure race" bloodsuckers. Another irony, another parody, Polish sense of humor at its best, very theatrical. 3. The Vampires Ball Scene is absolutely captivating: perhaps it could be even interpreted as a parody of nobility and aristocracy itself. A bunch of dead-like people, actually vampires, perpetuating their old-fashioned traditions, dance in a castle¡¡ All rotten, dead, evil and decadent¡¡ Do you want it more clear? 4. The wintry landscapes, the beautiful snowy castle, the photography is just amazing, breathtaking, impressive. It does add indeed an eerie quality to the movie, some sensation of strangeness¡¡¡ 5. Sharon Tate: oh, yes, she is very beautiful in this movie. Redheads always make excellent vamps¡¡¡ Here, you see an unsatisfied woman. Sarah, the daughter of the Jewish innkeeper who later turns vampire, is never at all in this world. She is discontent with her reality, and actually seems like she does enjoy the fact of having been abducted and seduced by the aristocratic bloodsuckers. She lived before in the oppressed atmosphere of a plebeian inn. But now, she does live in a dream-like castle. The story of Sarah is the story of a damsel in distress who is not actually such, and that actually does not want to be saved¡¡¡¡ Call it black humor, if you want. But it is that way¡¡ It is sad to hear Alfred when he talks to her in the ball, trying to save her, as she clearly does not want that.
A curious mix of parody, ironic-cynical comedy, and actual horror and sadness. Indeed a very good movie, with a very good end. Oh, Sarah, your heart always belonged to darkness¡¡¡¡¡