Vampyres (film)

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Vampyres
Vampyresfilmposter.jpg
1975 Cambist Films poster
Directed byJosé Ramón Larraz
Produced byBrian Smedley-Aston
Screenplay byDiana Daubeney
Starring
Music byJames Clark
CinematographyHarry Waxman
Edited byGeoff R. Brown
Production
company
Lurco Films
Distributed by
Release date
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget£42,000

Vampyres is a 1974[a] British horror film directed by José Ramón Larraz and starring Anulka Dziubinska, Marianne Morris, and Murray Brown. Its plot follows two female lovers who, having been resurrected as a vampires, lure unsuspecting travelers to their dilapidated estate to feed on their blood.

The film contains the trope of the lesbian vampire, and was targeted by film critics for its depictions of graphic violence, sex, and its presentation of female bisexuality. It was first released in the United States in 1975 by Cambist Films, and was later released in the United Kingdom in 1976.

In the years following its release, the film has garnered a large cult following.[7]

Plot[edit]

Fran and Miriam, female lovers, are shot to death in bed at a rural English estate. Resurrected as vampires, the couple proceed to carry on by luring unsuspecting people to their estate, where they can feed on their blood.

Young couple John and Harriet drive past Fran while traveling through the English countryside. Afterward, John and Harriet decide to camp out in their caravan near the dilapidated estate for several days. Harriet is perturbed by the locale, and tells John she saw another woman (Miriam) hiding behind a tree when they passed by Fran. That night, during a rainstorm, Harriet sees lights inside the home, and is startled by a figure looking into the caravan. John investigates, but finds nothing.

In the morning, a middle-aged man named Ted passes through the area, observing a single-car accident with a male decedent. Fran, again posing as a hitchhiker, gets a ride from Ted to the house. She invites him inside, where the two have passionate sex. In the morning, Ted finds a gash wound on his arm, which he attributes to a broken wine glass. After failing to locate Fran, Ted stops at John and Harriet's parked caravan, where they invite him in for coffee and bandage his wound. Ted returns to the house, waiting for Fran's return in his parked car. She returns at dusk, accompanied by Miriam and a young man, Rupert, whom the women have also lured there. That night, after Ted falls asleep, Fran joins Miriam in murdering and feeding on Rupert. After hiding the body, the women shower together. Miriam implores Fran to murder Ted soon, fearing she may become too emotionally invested.

Fran and Miriam attack John in his car

Curious about Fran and Miriam, Harriet follows the women the next morning as they walk into the woods and pass through a church graveyard. Meanwhile, Ted departs in his car, and stumbles upon another road accident scene, but is startled to see the victim is Rupert. Rattled, Ted returns to the estate and inadvertently locks himself in the wine cellar. Later, Fran and Miriam return to the estate. Fran initiates sex with Ted, but begins feeding on his arm wound as he lies there submissively. Miriam enters the room and also begins to feed on Ted's wound, followed by the women having sex as Ted lies beside them.

Harriet eventually enters the estate, and finds both Fran and Miriam sleeping in darkness in the wine cellar. John confronts Harriet and ushers her out of the house, worried they will be cited for trespassing. Ted, who has lain weak with anemia in Fran's bedroom, hears the women depart and return to the estate, again with a new suitor, this time a self-assured playboy. They bring him to the cellar, where they stab him to death. Meanwhile, Ted garners enough strength to stumble outside to John and Harriet's caravan. John attempts to drive to safety, but is murdered by Fran and Miriam in the car. Upon going to investigate, Harriet is attacked by Fran and Miriam, who drag her into the wine cellar and slit her throat.

At dawn, Ted stumbles back to his car in a daze. He is awoken by a realtor who, assuming Ted to be a drunkard, orders him to leave. As Ted drives hurriedly away, the realtor approaches the estate with an elderly American couple interested in purchasing it. The realtor comments that the real estate agency has had trouble selling the property, as it is believed to be haunted by two women who were murdered there.

Cast[edit]

Analysis[edit]

One of Vampyres' unique improvisations on the vampire genre is the decision for its vampires to feed out of a cut in the arm of victim Ted. Larraz explains his impetus behind this choice, saying, "I imagine my vampires turn almost to cannibalism, to eat somebody, to take the blood from anywhere, no matter if it is on the arm or on the balls!"[8] Film theorist Barbara Creed called this wound "one of the most grotesque sights in the film."[9]

Production[edit]

Casting[edit]

Anulka had been featured in Playboy's "Girls of Munich" pictorial in 1972, and appeared as the magazine's Playmate of the Month in May 1973. Vampyres was her first acting role on film.

Prior to Vampyres, Marianne Morris had appeared in Corruption (1968), Lovebox (1972), Just One More Time (1974), and Percy's Progress (1974); according to Morris, she was cast in Vampyres as Larraz had wanted someone who did not look particularly English.[10]

Sally Faulkner, a Shakespearean stage actress, was cast in the role of Harriet.[11] Recounting the experience, Faulkner commented that making the film was unpleasant, as she felt that Larraz was disrespectful toward both her and her co-star, Brian Deacon.[11] "It was not that we were seeking star treatment," Faulkner said. "José was very singleminded and not supportive—he was particularly critical of me."[11]

Filming[edit]

Oakley Court in Bray, Berkshire served as the exterior of the main locale in the film

Vampyres was shot on a modest budget of £42,000[8] (equivalent to £441,000 in 2019).

Effective use is made of erstwhile Hammer horror set Oakley Court and interiors were shot in Harefield Grove, a grade-II listed, early-nineteenth-century country house in the London borough of Hillingdon.[12] The making of the film was briefly covered in the 1974 BBC documentary The Dracula Business.

Release[edit]

The film was bought by the British distributor Fox-Rank in 1974, who did not release it until 1976 as a double-feature with The Devil's Rain.[13] Vampyres was distributed in the United States by Cambist, who released it uncut with an X certificate in March 1975.[b]

It was initially censored in the UK, with 2 minutes and 21 seconds of gory and sexual content cut.[8] Larraz called this cut of the film "the Vatican version".[14]

Critical response[edit]

Vampyres received a mixed reception, with many reviews focusing on the film's explicit depiction of female bisexuality. The Independent Film Journal suggested that the film "bares enough flesh and suggestive coupling to link it to the softcore circuit rather than the traditional horror market".[15] Variety's Frank Segers wrote that the film "indicates b.o. [box office] potential in appropriate adult situations...combining lesbian predilections with the usual bloodthirsty vampirical ways."[16]

The UK press response also concentrated on the film's sexual content, despite its cuts. David Pirie wrote in The Monthly Film Bulletin, "it is rare for sex and violence to be so completely and graphically integrated in a British movie (left surprisingly intact by the censor)."[17] Screen International's Marjorie Bilbow called Vampyres "A let down for horror addicts, with fringe benefits for voyeurs."[18]

Home media[edit]

Vampyres was released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment on 9 May 2000.[19] Blue Underground subsequently released a DVD edition on 27 May 2003, followed by a Blu-ray edition in 2010.[19][20] On 22 March 2019, Arrow Video released the film in a new Blu-ray edition as part of a three-film set titled Blood Hunger: The Films of José Larraz, which also contains Whirlpool (1970) and The Violation of the Bitch (1978).[21]

Remake[edit]

A remake, also called Vampyres, was directed by Víctor Matellano and released in 2015.[22]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The majority of bibliographic sources classify Vampyres as a 1974 feature (the year in which it was filmed).[3][4][5] However, some sources categorize it as a 1975 or 1976 film: The British Film Institute classes it as a 1976 feature, as this was the year of its release there.[6]
  2. ^ Contemporaneous newspaper sources from the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal show a listing for the film screening on 26 March 1975.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Show clock". The Courier-Journal. 26 March 1975. p. 21 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ "Cinemas". The Observer. 18 July 1976. p. 23 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Pearce, Pearce & Wisker 1998, p. 109.
  4. ^ Creed 2015, pp. 60, 70–71.
  5. ^ Russo 1981, p. 109.
  6. ^ "Vampyres (1976)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 31 January 2021.
  7. ^ Smith 2017, p. 77.
  8. ^ a b c Greaves, Tim (1994). Vampyres: A Tribute to the Ultimate in Erotic Horror Cinema. Hampshire: 1 Shot Publications. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-9650439-1-5.
  9. ^ Creed 2015, p. 71.
  10. ^ "By This Sign, I'll Recognise You...": An Interview with Marianne Morris. Vampyres (Blu-ray interview short). Arrow Video. 2019.
  11. ^ a b c Unhappy Camper: An Interview with Sally Faulkner. Vampyres (Blu-ray interview short). Arrow Video. 2019.
  12. ^ Cooper 2016, p. 163.
  13. ^ Vaines, Colin (14 May 1977). "On doing the unexpected". Screen International. p. 8.
  14. ^ "Vampyres". Video Watchdog. Vol. 63. September 2000. p. 70.
  15. ^ "Vampyres". The Independent Film Journal. 5 December 1974. p. 52.
  16. ^ Segers, Frank (20 November 1974). "Vampyres". Variety. p. 16.
  17. ^ Pirie, David (1 January 1976). "Vampyres". The Monthly Film Bulletin. p. 132.
  18. ^ Bilbow, Marjorie (8 May 1976). "The New Films". Screen International. p. 28.
  19. ^ a b "Vampyres (1975): Releases". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 31 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Blue-Underground Unleashing Vampyres on Blu-ray". Dread Central. Archived from the original on 1 December 2009.
  21. ^ Jane, Ian (22 March 2019). "Blood Hunger: The Films Of Jose Larraz". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on 31 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Vampyres (2015)"

Sources[edit]

  • Cooper, Ian (2016). Frightmares: A History of British Horror Cinema. Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire: Auteur. ISBN 978-0-9930717-3-7.
  • Creed, Barbara (2015) [1993]. The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-12770-8.
  • Pearce, Michael J.; Pearce, Lynn; Wisker, Gina (1998). Fatal Attractions: Rescripting Romance in Contemporary Literature & Film. London: Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0-745-31386-3.
  • Russo, Vito (1981). The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-063-37019-7.
  • Smith, Gary (2017). Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-497799.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rigby, J. (2000). English Gothic: a century of horror cinema. London: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd. ISBN 978-1-903111-35-2.
  • Greaves, T. (1994). Vampyres: A Tribute to the Ultimate in Erotic Horror Cinema. Hampshire: Tim Greaves under his 1-Shot Publications imprint. – A novelisation of the film written by Tim Greaves, published in the UK in 2001 by Strega

External links[edit]