The Fearless Vampire Killers

"Very Good"

The Fearless Vampire Killers Review


Even when he's at his most serious (The Pianist), his most stately (Tess), his most gruesome (Macbeth), Roman Polanski is a director with a keen, sardonic black wit. The "real" world, for Polanski, is one in which you might find human teeth embedded in the walls, where the neighbors might happen to be Satanists, where Donald Pleasance appears in drag. It's scary, but for Polanski (who lived through unimaginable horrors himself), it's blackly funny, too. And if the material is ostensibly quite heavy, as it is in The Pianist, so much the better. Weren't Nazis a kind of monster after all? How absurd was their rise to power? And how absurd the situations in which his protagonist found himself obliged to live?

Still, there are few declared comedies in Polanski's filmography. The best of these, 1967's The Fearless Vampire Killers (known outside the U.S. as Dance of the Vampires, and the basis of a recent, successful, European stage musical), is newly available on DVD.

Of course, even here the humor is premised on horror. The film follows the adventures of one Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) and his classically bumbling assistant Alfred (well played by Polanski himself), the fearless killers of the title, whose travels take them to a Transylvanian inn blanketed with snow. This inn is festooned with garlic; could there be vampires in the castle nearby? As in Kafka, the locals won't quite say. Alfred, being a young man, falls in love with the innkeeper's daughter Sara (Sharon Tate), but the nefarious castle-owner, a certain Count von Krolock (wonderfully played by Ferdy Mayne), chooses her as his victim, and the hunt is underway.

The Fearless Vampire Killers has the bright, cheap look of the kind of Hammer horror films that were produced in abundance in its day, and a tone that's marvelously balanced between garish horror and broad, neck-breaking comedy. Like the Hammer films, it's sexy, in a teasing way, too, particularly in the presence of Tate. (Polanski and Tate fell in love on the set and were subsequently wed; she was murdered by the Manson family a short two years later.) Even the stupidest of the jokes in Fearless Vampire Killers - there is, for instance, a Jewish vampire who isn't much bothered by the cross a potential victim waves at him - are redeemed by the movie's macabre silliness and folkloric atmosphere. And as for the garlic, the vampires here just don't care.

The Fearless Vampire Killers was Polanski's first big-budget feature, and it was saddled with its terrible title (The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck in full) by a nervous studio for its American release. The film was also re-edited so badly that Polanski asked that his name be withdrawn from the credits. This DVD provides the full Polanski-approved version and a making-of featurette. Check it out.

Aka The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, Your Teeth Are in My Neck, Dance of the Vampires, The Vampire Killers, Vampire Ball.



The Fearless Vampire Killers

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedies

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 1st June 1967

Distributed by: WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES

Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Filmways Pictures, Cadre Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Fresh: 19 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Professor Abronsius, as Alfred, the Professor Assistant, as Shagal, as Rebecca Shagal, as Sarah Shagal, as Count von Krolock, as Herbert von Krolock, Terry Downes as Koukol, the Servant, as Magda, the Maid, as Village Idiot, Sydney Bromley as Sleigh Driver

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.