Sunday, May 13, 2007

Kiss of the Vampire

Hammer Films are probably most famous for their series of Dracula movies starring Christopher Lee, yet when it comes to Vampire films they were at their most original whenever they handled non-Dracula subjects such as Brides of Dracula, Kiss of the Vampire or Vampire Circus.

In Kiss of the Vampire the vampiric threat doesn’t just come from one Gothic anti-hero, but instead we have a veritable coven of Vampires who aim to initiate ever more followers into their cult. The scenes of the cult gatherings with the members in flowing white robes have a very modern feel to it and are in certain ways reminiscent of some of the later real life cults emerging in the late 60s and 70s. They also resemble similar scenes in Hammer’s own The Devil Rides Out.

There is an outstanding and beautifully photographed costumed party scene that again bears resemblance to Roger Corman’s Masque of the Red Death and was certainly inspiration for a similar masked ball scene in Roman Polanski’s Dance of the Vampires.

The acting is also superb: Edgar De Souza is a very convincing lead and is supported by Clifford Evans as one of Hammer’s most fascinating vampire hunters, Prof Zimmer, an alcoholic, obsessed with avenging the loss of his daughter. Noel Willman as Dr Ravna makes for an excellent cult leader and head vampire.

Overall, this is a feast for the eyes and one of Hammer’s best productions and only slightly let down by a somewhat unconvincing climax with a very painfully obvious fake bat attack.

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