Vampirism has always played as a strong metaphor for sex and filmmakers ever since we can remember have used the penetration of skin by sharp canine teeth as a device for violence and eroticism. “VAMPYRES” (1974) is one such film that follows this device. Directed by Joseph Larraz, “Vampyres” follows a strong sex-gore quotient and truth be told the film uses a marketable device but uses it merely as an excuse to bring forth more naked women, blood and sex.
The film begins with Miriam and Fran (playboy playmate Anulka and Marianne Morris respectively) groping each other when a mysterious gunman enters the room and just kills them in cold blood. Fast forward several years and we see vacationing couple John and Harriet (Brian Deacon and Sally Faulkner) drive by the skulking luscious women on the side of the road. One look and you can tell that the two are up to no good, and Harriet’s suspicions are actually dead on. Fran and Miriam pose as hitchhikers to seduce men to come to their old palatial dwelling. It’s a typical stab and drain; as the two women attack their victims in a very feral fashion, draining the men of their life-giving blood.
However, Fran had taken a liking to her new plaything Ted (Murray Brown). Every night they would make love and Fran would only take mere sips of Ted’s blood through the deep gash on his arm. Ted finds himself weakened every morning, torn between his lust and his natural instinct to survive. Ted eventually crosses paths with the vacationing couple as Harriet becomes more compelled to nose around the huge palatial estate.
The style of “Vampyres” is very different and although very similar to other movies that explore the depths of vampirism. The word “vampire” is never even uttered once, and the titular predators aren’t the usual creatures of the night. Fran and Miriam use blood as their source of sustenance, they try to steer clear of sunlight but unlike most vampire movies, they don’t sprout fangs. There are also no coffins, wooden stakes and garlic, Fran and Miriam prey on weak-willed men who want sex although it was rather curious how the opening scene fits into all of this. So they got killed by a gunman but what made them into blood-thirsty creatures? Also, the two women were supposedly killing quite a few men and leaving them for the police to clean up. I rather thought that the police should’ve given some thought as to why so many accidental deaths had occurred between a short period of time. The characterization and script in “Vampyres” is a little clumsy and flimsy but we all know we aren’t here to see a great vampire movie.
For a vampire-exploitation movie, Joseph Larraz channels what he wants to do quite well. The film is quite straight-forward in the delivery of its metaphors; sex is seen as a passionate act and sometimes violent that becomes all too bloody. The way the film is shot is almost like a comic book as Larraz doesn’t deny his strong background in that medium. When Fran and Miriam run, Larraz keeps the shots wide with strong emphasis on the background. Their close-ups are also a little cartoonish, as we see blood dripping down their chins while their eyes go wild with hunger with an animalistic behavior. The sight is effective in generating some erotica and scares. The death scenes are also very bloody and a little graphic, as Fran and Miriam cut up their victims in an almost cannibalistic manner. While they prey on their victims, the two ‘vampyres’ writhe in pleasure as they also share some lustful kisses between them.
The film’s most memorable sequences come from its sex scenes as they prove to be major parts of the story. There is a lot of girl-on-girl action as well as boy-girl titillations. Fran and Miriam use men for sex and for their sustenance. The film has a romantic angle too; as Fran discovers a great lover in Ted that she just wants to keep him around; by not killing him and only taking a small amount of blood to keep him alive. Her desire for great sex puts Miriam’s and her way of living in jeopardy much to Miriam‘s concern. Ted is the ultimate fool; he considers leaving but for some reason he stays. I guess looking at Fran‘s and Miriam‘s luscious figures, one would become motivated to hang around. Larraz emphasizes the passion of Ted and Fran‘s lovemaking by taking the scenes to the huge bedroom for some very vigorous sex.
While the direction does make the elements of sex as a significant part of the story, the film’s script is just a little clumsy that the holes are so wide that they are as huge as a whale. The opening scene may be Ted returning to the house but the film’s last act contradicts this as the estate agent talks of a local legend that two women were killed in the house. Also, I know cops are usually inept in these movies, but this presents a missed opportunity for plot development. Director Larraz should have given more thought to the elements of the story and some scenes did feel like they were stretched out. I guess the best way to approach this film is ignore plot missteps and just focus on the nudity and sex.
Despite the clumsy and inefficient storytelling; and some scenes were a little dull and repetitive, I was NEVER bored with the experience that is “Vampyres”. The film is just so adored in this genre that I can just see why. The film’s major selling points are definitely the two luscious leads, and their sex scenes are just unflinching and quite graphic for its time. It is also obvious that Anulka and Marianne Morris were dubbed and their acting skills were lacking but obviously they were hired for their luscious 'looks' and not their skills as actresses. Do not go into “Vampyres” as a scary film but rather as an erotic thriller with horror elements. The film can still be intense as Miriam and Fran become feral as their lust for blood takes over. The film is exploitive but never feels like cheap exploitation. Overall, “Vampyres” (aka. Daughters of Dracula) is a worth a watch for fans of vampire exploitation.
Recommended! [3 ½ Stars]
Special Thanks for my Buddy TRASHCANMAN who let me use the photos and letting me know of this movie...
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"They share the pleasures of the flesh, and unleashed the horrors of the grave!" screamed the ads. The beautiful Marianne Morris and stunning Playboy centerfold Anulka star as bisexual seductresses who roam the English countryside with an insatiable lust for the blood of mortals as well as the succulent bodies of each other. Director José Ramón Larraz packs this landmark adult hit with chilling atmosphere, shocking bloodshed and some of the most torrid sexuality of any vampire movie in horror history.
Also known as DAUGHTERS OF DRACULA, this controversial cult classic was butchered repeatedly by censors around the world. Blue Underground is proud to present VAMPYRES loaded with exclusive new Extras and featuring a stunning new transfer that restores all of the controversial gore footage missing from any previous version. This is the definitive edition of VAMPYRES!