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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Vampira (1974)
(2017 Reissue)


Starring: David Niven and Teresa Graves
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 14 August 2017

Count Dracula arranges public visits to his castle in Transylvania, but it’s not because he’s a nice guy. He is searching for a particular blood type which will revive his wife who has slept for fifty years. When a group of attractive young models and their agent arrive for a publicity trip, a sample of their blood is taken overnight. However, Dracula’s manservant accidentally mixes up the blood so that, although his vampire wife is brought back to undeath, the influence of one of the models has turned Vampira black (eh?). She is beautiful and loves her new form, but when she begins to forget her heritage and adopt 1970s jive talk, Dracula takes his wife and manservant to London in order to track down the relevant model with the appropriate blood. He hypnotises the agent to seduce each of the models and obtain new blood samples, but events don’t exactly go to plan...

Gentleman David Niven does for Dracula here what he once did for James Bond: absolutely nothing. He has turned his hand to much better things. This is supposed to be one of those 1970s light-hearted romps in the ‘vein’ of the Carry On films.

It’s certainly good to see Bernard Bresslaw, and a handful of the other usual suspects from this period, including Jennie Linden, Veronica Carlson and the lovely Andrea Allan (Eve). Although it is eminently watchable, it’s not funny (although a couple of moments raise a brief smile of acknowledgement), it’s not edgy, and it’s not titillating. I found myself consuming the film in three separate sittings.

The opening dark scene is extremely grainy, which isn’t very good for a Blu-ray release, but the rest seems to be okay whilst severely lacking the crisp sharpness of other releases predating this one. Furthermore, there are no extras.

The most significant character by far is Maltravers, the manservant (played very ably by Peter Baylis) who has all the best lines of tongue-in-cheek humour, and even gets to turn his hand to various acting contrasts like a true thespian. Early on he dresses and pretends to be Dracula for the guests, before becoming a twisted and mentally-challenged satire of Dracula’s slave assistant (more akin to what has become accepted as Frankenstein’s brainless aid), and then reverting to his excellent portrayal of the manservant – like the modern depiction of Batman’s butler, Alfred (upright, loyal, and with periodic wry observations on events).

Not the best product to emerge from the famous EMI-MGM Studios at Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, I’m sure.


Ty Power

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