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John Llewellyn Moxey
George O'Hanlon Jr.,
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In a sleepy town in Britanny, Armond du Moliere, the Count Sinistre, and his Gypsy bride Tanya, vampires, control everything through a dark, bloody cult. English tourists disturb their cave coffins and must die, but Paul Baxter escapes and takes with him the count' golden bat talisman. To retrieve it and exact revenge, the whole cult follows to England, lusting for blood, a cover-up and new recruits, which also causes jealousy. Written by
Excellent color lensing, effective settings make for lively Brit horror.
Much better than often reported, this beautifully photographed British horror is a well upholstered turn down the familiar vampire path, enlivened by some delicious tongue in cheek. Directed by cult director Lance Comfort, (see Brian MacFarlane's monograph on his career) the film opens with a dazzling dance sequence set amidst a mid forest gypsy encampment, interrupted by the first burst of horror--accompanied by a swooping bat and a gust of wind.
These forest sequences are visually arresting, and include an eerie torch light parade photographed in reflection from a lake's surface.
As for the story, it concerns a modern day male vampire, (equipped with Louis Jourdan accent and beautifully cut suits) who turns out to be reincarnated from the ancient past.
Despite some dull detective sequences, (of the type that slow down Bava's "Blood and Black Lace") the picture manages an effective array of diverse settings including forest sequences, a country manor house, a catacomb lair, a jammed to the rafters antique shoppe, an artists' atelier, the reading room of the British Museum and a groovy bachelorette pad that is host to one of the screen's all time campiest cocktail parties.
Indeed, this sequence, replete with the Watusi, and Frug, and featuring an array of cigarette puffing (with holders!) extras that seem to have been recruited between takes from the sets of "Darling" and "A Taste of Honey", (one keeps looking for Julie Christie to appear) is guaranteed to elicit howls. And if that doesn't catch you, please note that Diana Decker's wardrobe had the female audience cooing at a recent screening.
Moreover, the climax, featuring a cave in which destroys the vampire clan, is well staged and shot.
Picture seems influenced by Don Sharp's superb "Kiss of the Vampire," and while it doesn't hold a candle to that stellar feather in Hammer's cap, it does emerge as an interesting and zesty contemporary take on the same theme.
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