Newlyweds Gerald and Marianne Harcourt end up staying at a quiet and deserted inn at a quiet and deserted countryside village when their car runs out of petrol. Unfortunately, helpful local Dr. Ravna at his chateau on the hill invites them to a party, sucking them into more than they bargained for.
The Kiss of the Vampire may have a simple story, but it’s a gorgeously filmed entry in Hammer’s vampire series, following on the heels of their second Christopher Lee Dracula picture, Brides of Dracula. Everyone is attractive and perfectly groomed. Lavish sets, beautiful costumes and bright colors all around splash a classic Technicolor look across the screen along with the blood.
Actually, you won’t see much blood either, for a vampire movie. What few drops and marks you do see here and there look suspiciously like the same red paint used in those Italian cannibal or giallo flicks of the same period. Here, Hammer swapped out the Dracula character for a vampire cult, which allows for cool party scenes and creepy masquerade balls.
They’ve also swapped out shocks and jump-scares for a more moody atmosphere overall. Though it’s PG fare, the standard vampire sexual undertones run just beneath the surface, buttressed by the frequent embracing and kissing between Gerald and Marianne.
Well, they are newlyweds, after all. And that makes this couple more relatable and convincing than many such couples in similar films. You do care what happens to them, and that imbues this otherwise dated horror film with considerable pathos that would otherwise fall apart amidst the slow build, a couple truly silly moments, and rubber bats.
Now that you’ve seen the film…
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Ah, those rubber bats. According to the IMDb trivia, they were purchased at a local Woolworths, and it shows. I can only imagine the arguments in the editing room that allowed that goofiness to pass through to the final cut. Even for a Hammer picture, it’s a bit much.
And isn’t hotelier Bruno simply charming? I just wanted to reach out and give that couple a huge hug. I would stay in his hotel any day and eat his wife’s food every night.
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