Into Transylvania come a doddering and incompetent Van Helsing figure (Jack MacGowran)and his timorous, clumsy assistant (Roman Polanski). When Sharon Tate, the daughter of thelocal innkeeper, is abducted by vampire Count Von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne), MacGowran andPolanski travel to the vampire’s castle, where plenty of misadventures ensue.
Polanski’s affection for the films he is parodying is evident, and this is a much better filmthan, say, Dracula: Dead and Lovin… It. It boasts, among other things, a remarkable sounddesign, and one of the most haunting soundtracks EVER. There are also such classic moments asthe peasant girl uselessly waving a crucifix at a Jewish vampire. Audiences expecting a laff-a-minit-riot will be disappointed by the film’s measured pace, but the look of the movie and thethrowaway details make it hugely engaging. Though the title is what the re-cut American releasewas saddled with (the original title is Dance of the Vampires, this is the uncut movie(shorn of the silly cartoon that preceded the credits of the American version).
The audio track is mono. Though the dialogue never distorts, there is some static andbackground hiss at times, and the music is so evocative, so glorious, that one can’t help but wishfor at least the option of a stereo remix. Still the sound gets the job done.
There are speckles here, more at some times than at others. On the other hand, for a 1966film, there is very little grain, and only one or two moments where the edge enhancementbecomes noticeable. The colours, blacks and contrasts are all excellent, and most of the print isvery clean.
Disappointingly little. “Vampires 101” is a promo featurette in the form of a comedy short,and there’s the theatrical trailer. Though the removal of the cartoon from the feature itself wasthe right thing to do, it could at least have been kept on the disc as an extra. The menu’s mainscreen and intro are animated and scored.
Polanski happily makes himself ridiculous in this clever, affectionate, and still very gothicspoof. One can’t help but feel the touch of poignant tragedy, however, in the scenes between himand the beautiful Sharon Tate.
Special Features List
- “Vampires 101” Vintage Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer