Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Thursday, 18 May 2017
An old favourite: Dance of the Vampires or ....
Roman Polanski's 1967 spoof DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES or THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS is still an absolute delight - and should really be seen on a large screen as it's widescreen images are just marvellous - I particularly like that moment when Polanski (he plays Alfred the bumbling rather dim-witted assistant to Professor Abronsius himself) is fleeing from Count Von Krolock's son ("a sensitive youth" as his father, the leader of the vampires, says) and he - Polanski - runs all around the four sides of the castle cloisters to return to the point he started from where the vampire son [Iain Quarrier] is waiting for him .... delirious stuff.
This was Polanski still in English movie mode, after REPULSION and CUL-DE-SAC before heading to America and ROSEMARY'S BABY, so it was made with his usual collaborators, writer Gerard Brach and composer Krystof Komeda. Veteran actor Jack McGowran is the dotty professor hunting for vampires in Transylvania with his assistant Alfred. They stay at an inn where everyone is superstitious and afraid of vampires. Alfred gets to meet and fall for the inn-keeper's daughter Sarah (Sharon Tate, quite lovely here) who has also come to the attention of the mysterious Count whose eerie castle is outside the village. Sarah is addicted to taking baths and during one the Count enters and takes her away. Alfred and the Professor follow but not before the inn-keeper (who is Jewish, played by Alfie Bass) also falls victim to the vampire, as does his busty barmaid/mistress Fiona Lewis.
This is all spendidly realised with great sets for the inn and the castle. They find the resting places of the count and his son but it too late as the sun goes down ... Count Von Krolock materialises and has his own plans for the Professor and Alfred who can provide some intellectually stimulating company for them during those long winter nights as the centuries pass by. The son Herbert takes a shine to Alfred and there is that delicious scene as Alfred sitting on the bed as Herbert gets closer realises his is the only reflection in the mirror ... hence that chase around the castle. So we have a Jewish vampire and a gay vampire, both hilariously done, and Ferdy Mayne is a perfect arch vampire.
Sarah will be initiated into the vampires during the great ball held once a year and there is that great moment as ancient tombs open as the rather decrepit vampires emerge for their ball. The ball is a delight with everyone dancing but the large mirror only shows Alfred, Abronsius and Sarah .... they manage to get away as the vampires give chase in some very funny scenes and the ending is quite nice, while Komeda's score is just right.... It is all just a perfect delight from start to finish and one I can relish any time - a key Polanski movie too, before those later darker movies like his MACBETH and CHINATOWN or THE TENANT, or his recent THE GHOST (WRITER). Back in '69 or '70 when I was living around Chelsea I turned from Sloane Square into Kings Road and there was Polanski in front of me talking to someone - you could never mistake him for anyone else!