|Directed by||Riccardo Freda
Mario Bava (uncredited)
|Produced by||Luigi Carpentieri
|Written by||Riccardo Freda
|Starring||Gianna Maria Canale
|Music by||Franco Mannino
|Edited by||Roberto Cinquini|
|Release date(s)||1956 (U.S.)
5 April 1957 (Italy)
|Running time||90 minutes|
I vampiri (The Vampires, UK title: Lust of the Vampire) is a 1956 Italian horror film directed by Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava. The film stars Gianna Maria Canale, Carlo D'Angelo and Dario Michaelis as Pierre Lantin. I vampiri was the first sound era Italian horror film – horror film had been banned in Italy in the 1930s and 1940s. Freda directed the film for the first 10 days of production, with cinematographer Mario Bava filling in for him for the remaining two days after Freda left the set.
|This section requires expansion. (December 2011)|
The plot revolves around the vampire Giselle du Grandan, who is able to maintain her youthful looks through a serum derived from a virgin's blood. Grandan begins to age and demands better results from the serum's inventor, who captures more young virgins but is caught by a young reporter.
During the 1950s, Italian film production had grown exponentially since the 1940s, from 25 films in 1945 to 204 in 1954. This growth allowed filmmakers in Italy to approach new genres and new styles not attempted before. Director Riccardo Freda and his friend, cinematographer Mario Bava, came up with the idea of developing a horror film as horror films had been previously banned by the fascist regime in the 1930s and 1940s. Freda approached film producers with the idea of the film without any treatment ready. Promising them he would have something for them by the next day, he returned with an tape of his treatment that was complete with sound effects. The producers admired the treatment but were doubtful that a film of this style could be successfully made in Italy or pass by the censors. To convince them further, Freda said he would be able to pass the script with the censors and could shoot the film in 12 days. This convinced the producers who allowed Freda to create the film.
The film was shot in black and white by cinematographer Mario Bava, who felt that that style would better suit the special effects in the film and keep the budget down. Freda's deal with his producers failed as he was able to pass by the censors, but after 12 days he only had half of the film finished. After being denied extra time from the producers to finish the film, Freda left the production allowing Mario Bava to step in to finish the film in the next two days.
The film was not a box office success in either Italy or France. Freda felt that film did not succeed in Italy due to Italian film goers reluctance to an Italian interpretation of the horror genre. For Freda's next film, Caltiki – The Immortal Monster, he used an English pseudonym to give the impression that the film was not Italian.
In their retrospective review, Allmovie wrote "While I vampiri is more important for its place in history than for it ultimate effectiveness as a film, it is nevertheless an entertaining horror flick."
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