Geektoberfest: Respectful Reel Review #19 — Kiss of the Vampire (1963)

MOVIE TITLE:

Kiss of the Vampire

IMDB YEAR RELEASED:

1963

GENRE:

Hammer Vampire Horror

STARRING:

Clifford Evans, Noel Willman, Edward de Souza, Jennifer Daniel, Barry Warren, Jacquie Wallis, Isobel Black

DIRECTED BY:

Don Sharp

SUMMARY:

When a newlywed couple set off on their honeymoon through a Bavarian forest and get stranded by their car in a tiny village, a wealthy benefactor offers to help them, but his intentions are less than beneficent.

TAGLINE:

Giant devil Bats…summoned from the caves of Hell to destroy the lust of the Vampires!

PLOT:

In a cemetery, a burial is occurring. The mourners march the coffin toward the grave and begin the process of interring the coffin when the funeral is crashed by a person known to the villagers as Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans). He had watched from afar, but as he gets closer, the mourners seem to move away to give him room to approach the grave.

Suddenly Professor Zimmer grabs a shovel and smashes through the coffin. There’s an ear-piercing scream from the coffin, and then blood seeps from the box. The camera lingers for a few seconds on the shattered lid and the growing puddle of viscera.

Gerald (Edward de Souza) and Marianne Harcourt (Jennifer Daniel) are a newlywed couple driving through a Bavarian forest, but Gerald neglected to bring enough gas. They run out of gas as night approaches. Gerald tells Marianne to stay put while he goes to get gas or assistance. Shadows creep and encroach, but before anything can happen, Gerald returns.

Ultimately, one of the few villagers left in the town helps to bring them to the village-proper where an affluent aristocrat offers to help them. Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman) is a cult leader who along with his two adult children: Carl (Barry Warren) and Sabena (Jacquie Wallis) scheme together as to how to benefit from the situation.

Together they develop a plan to abduct Marianne during a ball at the castle while also making it appear that Gerald was traveling alone, never married, and living a sad, pathetic existence. When he is summarily removed from the ball, bounced on his bum, and returned to his room at the inn, he requests the assistance of Professor Zimmer.

Zimmer lost a daughter to the cultists, as well. He explains to Gerald that his wife has been abducted by vampires and that they must leave for the castle immediately. He explains that his daughter has become a vampire and he has been searching for an ally to help him find the strength to put his daughter out of her misery. He hopes that they are not too late to save Marianne.

REVIEW:

I will leave the plot here so that you can watch the movie for yourself. The plot is pretty simple with a unique resolution. It highlights all the things that made Hammer Films really great at horror (gore that is excessively red and as viscous as paint, gorgeous women with plunging necklines and ample cleavage, over-acting players, and larger than life villains), despite their infamously low budgets.

Originally intended to be the final part of a trilogy which included Dracula (1958) along with the Brides of Dracula (1960) the plan went askew when Christopher Lee communicated his commitment to several other projects. Of course, the fact that Dracula would not be used required extensive re-writes by Anthony Hinds.

The cannibalizing of that previous script, IMHO does not seem overt. The cult aspects of this story seem organic and to my mind seems an intriguing way to alter the vampire mythos in a unique way. Exposition is kept to a minimum, used only in those places that require narrative to move the story along.

Key to a good horror movie is the cinematography and great editing (which is a little more difficult when censors are hovering over your shoulder). This movie has both of those things along with a superior sound track. The movie is slick, well-produced, and an example of how Hammer made good horror despite its limitations.

Here in this month of Geektoberfest, when so many of us are looking for good horror to watch, Kiss of the Vampire (1963) is available on YouTube for free. Check it out. Every horror-geek should get a real kick out of some of the Hammer Film quirks present in this film. Thanks for checking out my post. Gotta fly!

Kiss of the Vampire is a very good representation of Hammer horror, worthy of 4 out of 5 Grey Geeks

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