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The Kiss of the Vampire (1962)

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The Kiss of the Vampire also known as Kiss of the Vampire and Kiss of Evil, is a 1962 (released 1963) British vampire film made by Hammer Film Productions. The film was directed by Don Sharp and was written by producer Anthony Hinds using his writing pseudonym John Elder.

Kiss Vampire title

Originally intended to be the third movie in Hammer’s Dracula series (which began with Dracula and was followed by The Brides of Dracula); it was another attempt by Hammer to make a Dracula sequel without Christopher Lee. The final script, by Anthony Hinds makes no reference to Dracula, and expands further on the directions taken in Brides by portraying vampirism as a social disease afflicting those who choose a decadent lifestyle. The film went into production on 7 September 1962 at Bray Studios.

Plot:

Gerald (Edward de Souza) and Marianne Harcourt (Jennifer Daniel), are a honeymooning couple in early 20th-century Bavaria who become caught up in a vampire cult led by Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman) and his two children Carl (Barry Warren) and Sabena (Jacquie Wallis). The cult abducts Marianne, and contrive to make it appear that Harcourt was traveling alone and that his wife never existed. Harcourt gets help from hard-drinking savant Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans), who lost his daughter to the cult and who finally destroys the vampires through an arcane ritual that releases a swarm of bats from Hell…

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Reviews:

“Sharp’s ability to use his settings, including a beautifully photographed Bavarian wood, the sinister castle and a deserted inn, demonstrates his talent for mise-en-scène, the hallmark of his subsequent films, including Rasputin – The Mad Monk and The Face of Fu Manchu (both 1965).” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror 

Kiss of the Vampire ends in the most lackluster way possible, a low for the studio. Our gruff vampire hunter conjures up a pack of bats to come flying to the rescue and it looks as cheap as special effects come. They bob through shattering stained glass windows and swoop down to feast on the flesh of the undead cult members, their white robes turning red with each new bite. The deaths are over dramatic and poorly timed as they shriek out through the rubber bats glued to their faces.” Anti-Film School

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Kiss of the Vampire, De Souza, Jacquie Wallis

“My favorite aspect of the film, though, is how concisely it encapsulates the contradiction between Hammer’s status as the foremost envelope-pushers in the British movie industry and the intense social conservatism that shines through practically all of their output in the horror genre. Just watch the scene that plays out between Ravna and Gerald when the latter comes to spring Marianne from the vampires’ clutches. In no other movie that I can think of from this era is it so glaringly obvious that the real threat posed by the vampires lies in their capacity as sexual emancipators of women, and it’s hard to think of anything more obnoxiously retrograde than horror at the prospect of women having a say in the expression of their own sexual identities.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

Kiss of the Vampire has a relatively tight script, one of the many penned by son-of-Hammer honcho Anthony Hinds, a typically effective score by James Bernard, quality performances, and both bathes in tradition and extends it. Those are all good reasons to seek this film out, but the best is that restrained but prolonged tension and ghostly ambience that Hammer did so well. While there are films that achieve it as well as Kiss of the Vampire, few achieve it better.” Brandt Sponseller, Classic Horror

KISS-OF-THE-VAMPIRE-and-PARANOIAC-double-bill

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Offline reading:

Rigby, Jonathan (July 2000). English Gothic : A Century of Horror Cinema (in English). Reynolds & Hearn.

Wikipedia | IMDb

 



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