Saturday, July 1, 2017

English Country Vamps on The Prowl, or Thoughts on Vampyres

Vampyres (1974) is often misattributed as a Hammer Film, which is an easy mistake; it’s a modern gothic vampire movie set in England at the height of the studio’s popularity and starring a couple buxom women in capes.  There has always been an element of dark sexuality to the vampire genre, and Hammer Productions were the first to bring that darkness forward in movies like Lust for a Vampire (1974) and Twins of Evil (1971), inadvertently creating the lesbian vampire movie.  Vampyres (1974) is still one of the finest examples of this toothsome (see what I did there) subgenre, and still one of the best Hammer movies that Hammer had nothing to do with.
John and Harriet are enjoying a caravan holiday in the English Countryside; John likes to fish while Harriet enjoys watercolors.  But wouldn’t you know, (as often happens during these English holidays), there are a couple women living next door in the abandoned country manor luring lonely businessmen off the road for their blood orgy threesomes.  The softcore scenes were scandalous at the time and now seem almost cable-friendly by contemporary standards.
From Spanish director José Ramón Larraz and featuring Anulka Dziubinska, Playboy’s Miss May, 1973 as Fran and Marianne Morris as Fran, the titular ladies of the evening (see what I did there, I promise it’s the last one).  But the real star of the film is Oakley Court, Berkshire, where the ladies have set up shop.  The exterior was used in The Brides of Dracula (1961), And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973), Murder by Death (1976) and arguably most memorably as Dr. Frank N. Furter’s castle in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).

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