Vampyres (1974)



Further proof that the 70s were the best decade in film making.  In what other decade could you release a movie that literally sits on both the horror and erotica fence?  You can’t have “erotic” films anymore.  You can either have porn or horror.  Vampyres is one of the few erotic films I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot!) that manages to go in both directions seamlessly without seeming forced.  The movie has a lot of nudity and sex, perhaps even gratuitous amounts but it also has copious amounts of blood and gore as well.  And best believe these aren’t “sexy” vampires who “sexily” suck someone’s blood but rather just vicious killers who happen to be sexy.

This reminds me; I was supposed to review Daughters of Darkness, which I also liked a lot but I totally forgot about.  Now I have to get it again on netflix because it’s been about a week since I’ve seen it and I don’t trust my memory nor do I want to just read through other IMDB reviews.  Dammit.  Oh well.  I was reminded of that, by the way, because Vampyres is also known in some markets as Daughters of Dracula and that’s a similar sounding name.

Anyway, as I was saying Vampyres is both sexy and scary.  It was directed by José Ramón Larraz and has a totally stylish, Eurotrash look combined with a creepy atmosphere and takes place primarily in a neat looking gothic mansion and the vast, lush, green field and forest outside the mansion.

The film is about a vampire (vampyre?) couple – darker, brunette Fran (Marianne Morriz) and lighter, blonde Miriam (Anulka Dziubinska) – who stalk, seduce and kill their victims.  Their primary mode of action is to take turns hitching rides from the side of the road to the mansion, inviting the strangers in and having their way with them. However, as demonstrated by Fran’s actions, the undead need sex too; in between taking giant gulps of human blood from her victim she also has time for some good ol’ fashion humping.  During the couple of tasty shack ups, the male victim wakes up, sees giant slashes on his arms and feels more and more tired daily.  What a way to go, huh?  Miriam, on the other hand, is strictly a lesbian as demonstrated by her never taking part in sex with the men she kills and lusting only after Fran.

The story begins as a complete stranger walks in on Fran and Miriam as living people in the throes of passion and inexplicably shoots them dead.  Then the credits role and we’re introduced to the three main characters, a sort of rich playboy type (Michael Byrne) who, I guess, is on vacation or something and the cute, young couple John (Brian Deacon) and Harriet (Sally Faulkner), who decide to go camping near the mansion.  As the story progress, Harriet begins to notice weird stuff happening, including a person screaming right outside her window.  As expected, when she wakes up her lover, the man is gone and all he has to say is, “see, honey, you were just dreaming!”

There are a few other victims and some bodies found mangled in car crashes on the side of the road but, most importantly, there is sex and gore.  There’s also a sexy shower scene between the two vampire ladies and there is one particular kill sequence that displays that, just because Miriam is a lesbian, does not mean she treats the living female character any more kindly.  This is one of the finest in the eroto-horror/sexy vampire sub genre.

Christmas Evil (1980)



Have you ever watched a movie and thought, “man, this has too much good taste?”  I know what you’re thinking; yes, Christmas Evil (a.k.a. You Better Watch Out and Terror in Toyland) from writer/director Lewis Jackson may have pre-dated Silent Night, Deadly Night by four years and how tasteful can a movie about a killer Santa really be?

To be sure, the plots for Christmas Evil and Silent Night, Deadly Night are pretty darn similar save for a few little details.  Like Silent Night, Deadly Night, the movie begins with the killer’s childhood, where he witnesses a traumatizing event that eventually manifests in his adult life, resulting in his going on a killing spree while dressed in a Santa costume.  What’s surprising is that the event in Christmas Evil could probably be explained by a simple talk of the “birds and the bees” (Santa getting it on with mommy).

Years later it’s revealed the boy in the opening sequence has grown into a lonely, pathetic man-child named Harry (Brandon Maggart) who has creepily filled his home with nothing but Christmas decorations and Santa toys.  At night he works in a factory with typical assholish types, one of whom takes advantage of his generosity and convinces him to switch shifts with him only later to reveal to his buddies how he “suckered Harry into taking his shift.”  In addition to that, Harry closely watches the neighborhood children, taking note of who’s been naughty or nice.  He catches one boy reading Penthouse, thus making him not “nice.”

Harry suppresses is rage, of course making everyone around him think that he’s just an eccentric but harmless man.  So far, so good.  You’re just anticipating the brutal payoff, the moment when Harry will snap and go on a rampage just like the killer in Silent Night, Deadly Night.  So we finally get to that crucial moment when Harry glues on the Santa beard, puts on the costume and arms himself with a knife and nutcracker doll with bayonet.  And then…

Major freakin’ letdown!!!

There are so many people in this movie; all those people at the company Christmas party, the neighborhood children, Harry’s own brother and his family, all those potential kills and only four people get it!  The asshole guy who tricked Harry into taking his shift is one and three completely random people on the steps of some memorial site and that’s it!  The rest of the movie is Harry either running or driving away from trouble!  Can you imagine my major disappointment when there’s a whole mob after Harry and Harry doesn’t run them down with his van?  What’s his problem?  What’s the problem of the filmmaker?  What’s with that stupid ending where Harry drives to the moon?

I really hope Lewis Jackson wasn’t trying to make a “serious” character study.  I’d like to chalk it up to a poorly written, poorly paced script and very few shocks.  Have you seen Silent Night, Deadly Night?  That’s the one where Santa impales the woman on a pair of antlers and decapitates the kid sledding down the hill.  Don’t expect anything even remotely that cool to happen.  Yes, in this movie, Santa stabs some people but other than that.. what wasted potential!