Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Fearless Vampire Killers

The Fearless Vampire Killers; Horror comedy, UK, 1967; D: Roman Polanski, S: Roman Polanski, Jack MacGowran, Sharon Tate, Ferdy Mayne

19th Century, winter. Professor Abronsius is thrown out of a university because he believes in existence of vampires, so he and his assistant Alfred travel through snowy Transylvania in a sled. They arrive at a pub that is filled with garlic while the villagers all act strange. Alfred falls in love with Sarah, but she gets kidnapped by a vampire, Count Krolock. Abronsius and Alfred go to his castle where he treats them as guests. They decide to kill Krolock, but they lose their equipment. It turns out the whole castle is filled with vampires, so they run away with Sarah. But she also became a vampire and contaminates them too.

After his success with "The Knife in the Water", director Roman Polanski moved from his Polish homeland to Britain, where he surprisingly filmed horror comedy "The Fearless Vampire Killers" in which he spoofs the vampire cliches in a rather light way, though even that is an endemic result in his otherwise dark film opus. Just like most of his films, this one also ends with the triumph of evil, but already in the opening (in which the dogs are running after a speeding sled and biting the coat of the protagonist) the funny-goofy tone was crystallized, which makes the story more upbeat. There's a neat display of original jokes here: the old man Yoine hides behind the door of the pub as a human, and then later on the same way as a vampire. He also runs away from an empty barrel in which vine is instilling from another barrel. And he even brings his coffin into the castle of Count Krolock to be close to him as a new "member", nonchalantly stating: "I'm not bothering anyone if I sleep here", but gets kicked out. And one vampire is even gay. However, the characters are cold, the story anecdotal whereas the humor isn't that brilliant since it relies too much on clumsiness.


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