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Category:    Home > Reviews > Vampires > Horror > British > Spanish > Erotic > Lesbianism > Counterculture > Vampyres (1974/aka Daughters Of Dracula or Vampyres: Daughters Of Darkness/Blue Underground Blu-ray)

Vampyres (1974/aka Daughters Of Dracula or Vampyres: Daughters Of Darkness/Blue Underground Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Film: B-

 

 

In the early to mid-1970s, vampire films reached an interesting peak of depth that has never been seen again.  Skipping spoofs, there were darker-if-somewhat-comic looks at vampirism (Morrissey’s Blood For Dracula) and many that delved into the sexual and spiritual side of vampirism.  Among these films is José Ramón Larraz’s Vampyres (1974), a nearly lost film (via censorship, et al) about two female vampires who love each other and plot to survive no matter what.

 

Partly thanks to new U.S. and U.K. horror films leaving the Hammer style behind, partly thanks to a new sexual freedom in cinema, these films were quietly groundbreaking and among the best vampire films ever made.  Miriam (Anulka Dziubinska, credited by her first name only in the film) and Fran (Marianne Morris) pose as helpless women stuck on highways and hitchhike for their latest victims, unbeknownst to the drivers and passengers, of course.  Then they kidnap them top make them into blood banks in a mansion they live in.

 

Larraz (The House That Vanished, Deviation) creates a moody, suspenseful film worthy of similar films of the time like Ganja & Hess and The Velvet Vampire (both reviewed elsewhere on this site) that not enough Horror and Vampire fans are aware of.  Blue Underground has reassembled the best possible print of the film after so many cuts to return it to its X-rated glory; a rating it received for sex, blood, nudity and violence. 

 

The leads are very sexy and the film takes place in England giving it a solid cast of British actors including Michael Byrne (Saracen, Apt Pupil, Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The Unexpected), Murray Brown (The Deadly Affair, The New Avengers), Brian Deacon (A Zed & Two Noughts, The Guardians), Bessie Love (The Wild Affair, The Sentimental Agent) and Elliott Sullivan (The Revolutionary, The Great Gatsby, The Persuaders! and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, whom he appears with Miss Love in) among others, so you also get a richer cast than you might expect.  I also liked very much the mansion used and all the great locations.

 

The result is a must-see vampire film for all serious film fans, one finally restored to its original glory.

 

 

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image has some more dated footage, but that is how the film survives, yet there are also some great shots throughout with some great color, plus you get some interesting visual moments, none of which DVD could deliver with this kind of fidelity.  Director of Photography Harry Waxman (the original Wicker Man, Journey Into Fear, Night Child, Endless Night, Twisted Nerve, The Nanny) is a visual master at his best and this has some of his best dark work.  I liked the mood the visuals present and it goes beyond location.  The image has to convey the narrative when it comes to the vampires and succeeds.  Waxman also shoots nudity well.

 

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 7.1 mix is a little better than the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 1.0 Mono mix spreading around the older theatrical monophonic sound the best it can and with more room, smaller details can be heard, but it also shows the limits of the film’s budget and age.  However, it is also warmer than the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix, which sometimes does not seem to have all the smoothness of the DTS-MA 1.0 Mono.  James Kenelm Clarke’s score is good and the DTS-MA 7.1 mix is the best offered here.

 

Extras include the original International and U.S. Theatrical Trailers, Return Of The Vampyres interview with Morris and Anulka and a feature length audio commentary by Larraz and Producer Brian Smedley-Aston that are all welcome extras.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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