Morris, Anulka Dziubinska, Murray Brown
couple of sexy female vampires that lure victims into their
DVD format and easy access to American retailers via the Internet have
combined to liberate many films like Vampyres that were once the
preserve of the bootleg market, or the staple fare of festival screenings.
Vampyres was released on video here in the 80s, but in a version
trimmed by the BBFC of about three minutes.
1974 film was shot in Britain by Spanish director Joseph Larraz, and plays
like an extended episode of the Hammer House of Horror TV series,
(albeit one with far more gratuitous nudity than the average Confessions
of… film!) Given the kinky subject matter it’s hardly surprising
that the film has attracted a loyal cult following. The film has numerous
shortcomings, many of which stem from its limited budget (about £43,000),
but it’s easy to see what compels its acolytes, and hard not to fall
under its heady, hedonistic spell.
Bay has made a valiant effort to optimise the presentation, including a
fresh widescreen (1.85:1) transfer enhanced for 16:9 TVs, but the disc,
which runs for 87’08” and purports to be “uncut and uncensored with
all its notorious sex and violence fully restored”, is missing about
thirty seconds of material present in some versions, including the NTSC
Magnum video release, (which also proclaimed itself to be the “original
uncut version”, but is also missing some footage). Warning: spoiler
ahead! Five cuts have been made to the climactic scenes where Fran and
Miriam attack John and Harriet, severely dampening the brutality and
cruelty of the onslaught.
Bay’s disc comes with a worthwhile and often very funny commentary track
by producer Brian Smedley-Aston and self-confessed “dirty old man”
Larraz, a pair of trailers (“cloaked in beauty, they use their bodies as
bait!”) and a gallery of twenty or so familiar photo’s. The picture is
a little soft and grainy, and a little pale in parts, but this could
almost certainly be traced all the way back to the original negative.
Apart from a few marks here and there the print is in very good condition.
Although suffering from obvious signs of post-production dubbing
(practically inevitable, since the film was shot almost entirely on
location), the mono sound presentation is robust, and has surprisingly
good dynamic range.