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Its very funny, but little outdated movie.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.