The House of Spooktober

Last night’s Spooktober viewing was a 1974 British horror flick that I’d never seen before — a rarity, to be sure. Vampyres (released in the US as “Daughters of Dracula”) is a film that sits precariously on the fence between contemporarily-set early-70s Hammer and Lesbian sexploitation softcore — which is why I’d never seen it, as it’s content kept it from the rotation of Crematia Mortem and the other late-night horror hosts. The film was cut massively for it’s theatrical release, and an uncut BluRay was finally released in 2016 (and is also available on Amazon Prime streaming). The plot is pretty thin, given the amount of time that is given over to the usual shower scenes and comically-bad naked bed-writhing, but it manages to still be pretty effectively creepy nonetheless.

Largely, this creepiness is achieved by the location shooting — misty English countryside graveyards in the early morning hours (as the two vampiresses rush back to their graves as the sun rises), and the woods, grounds and interior of the famous Oakley Hall — best known as a Hammer films location and the “Frankenstein Place” in Rocky Horror — as the main setting.

Also interesting and effective is the director’s choice to forego the usual fangs and sexy-throat-bite vampiric method, instead shooting his vampires engaged in violent slashing and stabbing of their victims with ceremonial daggers, followed by orgiastic frenzy as they cover themselves in blood, grasping and clutching like junkies desperate for a fix. It definitely plays against the somewhat tiresome titillation elements — you expect more of the The Vampire Sexy, and instead get a sudden shift from lust to disturbing violence.

I hadn’t seen any of the actors before (apparently, one of the vampire women was a Playboy centerfold from May 1973 — she’s the one who is given the smaller role, with the other taking most of the acting duties), although amusingly, one of their victims is a tedious, mansplaining “playboy” (credited as such), played by Michael Byrne (the Nazi Col. Vogel in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). It’s fun to watch him meet his end.

Overall, I recommend it. Set your tolerance for eye-rolling exploitative nonsense high, and there’s a nice little vampire film here.

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