Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Vampira (1974)

The ON THE BUSES of vampire movies

From the co-writer of ARE YOU BEING SERVED and ‘ALLO ‘ALLO (I know, it’s not looking good, is it?) comes this British vampire comedy movie (oh dear) from 1974. We all know what that means - it’s going to be dated, silly, and above and beyond all, somewhat Politically Incorrect.
Just warning you.

Dracula (David Niven, who apparently had a lifelong ambition to play the role) needs blood to bring his beloved wife, Vampira, back to life. Rather than embark on the kind of delicious, delirious and sexy bloodletting exploits we might see in a Jean Rollin or Jess Franco picture from the period, instead this Dracula invites Bernard Bresslaw to his castle.

Oh, and some models for a Playboy shoot.
Vampira gets transfused but something goes wrong and she turns into the (extremely presentable) Teresa Graves, who also happens to be of (ahem) African descent. Not happy with this state of affairs, Dracula travels to London with his faithful assistant (Peter Bayliss) in tow. Cue a series of ‘amusing’ encounters as they try to find the right blood type to change Vampira back to her normal caucasian self. Audiences of today will wonder why on earth they are bothering. 

There now follows the HMC list of ‘highlights’ in VAMPIRA so those of you still undecided about this one can hopefully make up your minds:
Dialogue! e.g. Playboy Model: “It’s so cold in here I’ve got goose bumps”      
       Mr Bresslaw: “Yes. I can see two of them from here.”

Acting! e.g.  Nicky Henson gurning. Peter Bayliss gurning. Jennie Linden in glasses. Freddie Jones on an aeroplane. Linda Hayden who is just lovely both before & after being vampirised but is totally wasted. Niven himself looking vaguely uncomfortable all the way through this.  Teresa Graves who is the only one who gets through this with any dignity. And Kenneth Cranham as a mugger! (See below)

The climax! An extended disco dance bit that goes on forever before the final, terrible punchline to the whole film that has to be seen to be disbelieved. 

Fabulous Films’ Blu-ray looks pretty rough, as if a projector-worn print has been slapped onto the high definition format and held there by banging a few nails through it. That’s probably being a bit unkind but I wouldn’t want to raise your expectations after all the build up I’ve given to this film already. There are no extras.

Clive Donner’s VAMPIRA is out on DVD and Blu-ray from Fabulous Films from Monday 14th August 2017

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