Originally Roman Polanski wanted to shoot his film on location in and around a castle in Switzerland which he saw during a vacation, but as this was impossible, other locations in the Alps were found, along with studio shoots in England. While on location, Polanski employed dozens of local artisans to make the large numbers of coffins needed in the film. Unfortunately tourists were rather unnerved by the sight of these, and hotels had to erect signs to assure their guests that the area hadn't been struck by plague.
For the ballroom scene (when the music stops and only three people are visible in a huge mirror despite of a few dozen vampires in the room) Roman Polanski had the room completely copied behind a fake mirror with three doubles acting as the human protagonists.
Amongst the ancestral portraits in the castle is a depiction of an ugly old woman inspired by a sketch of 'Leonardo da Vinci' and since the 18th century frequently connected with Margarete Maultasch, countess of Tyrol (1318-1369).
Roman Polanski was most displeased with the American version of this film. In addition to changing the title from "Dance Of The Vampires", the film was cut by over twenty minutes, and, because the plot had been made incomprehensible by these cuts (so Polanski claimed), an animated sequence was added to make the plot a little clearer. In addition, the two leading actors - Jack McGowran and Polanski himself - were dubbed by others. However, Polanski's version of the film, under its correct title, was shown in Europe. The film was shown on British television under its proper title for some years, but has been known as "The Fearless Vampire Killers" in the UK, both on TV and on DVD, since the mid-1990s, although it is otherwise as Polanski intended it to be. No-one seems to know why the title has been changed, and a generation has grown up believing "The Fearless Vampire Killers" to be the film's actual title.
A musical adaptation of Dance of the Vampires premiered at the Raimund Theater in Vienna, Austria, on October 4, 1997. It was directed by Roman Polanski, and featured music by rock composer Jim Steinman, who is best known for his work with Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler.
The original format of the film was to be spherical widescreen. However, at the early stages of production the format was changed to wider, anamorphic Panavision. This results in some of the spherical shots having to be reframed and cropped in order to be as wide as Panavision.