Review of “Kiss of the Vampire” (1963)

trailer from YouTube

This is our latest Saturday night pizza and bad movie offering, a vampire flick with a lovely old castle and a creepy old owner with creepy kids who take flight when the sun gets too bright. Of course, the creepy old dude throws a masquerade party.

We watched it with Svengoolie.

Plot:

This opens with a funeral. Pallbearers carry the casket while the priest reads the Latin rite. A man in tophat (Clifford Evans) appears in the distance. He approaches the mourners. The priest sprinkles holy water over the open grave with the ritual aspergillum. The man in the tophat holds out his hand, asking for the instrument. He sprinkles more water, then asks a nearby gravedigger for a shovel. Instead of throwing the first dirt on the casket, he thrusts the shovel through the top of it. Screams sound from inside, and oddly colored blood ooze around the shovel. The man walks away. Everyone else runs.

Elsewhere, honeymooners Gerald (Edward de Souza) and Marianne Harcourt (Jennifer Daniel) run out of “petrol” while motoring. It’s the little lady’s fault. She just doesn’t know how to read a map.

While she waits with the car, Gerald arranges a tow. Marianne is not as alone as she might think. A local aristocrat, Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman), watches her through his telescope from what appears to be a dull, rundown castle. When the wind picks up and she hears animals howl, she gets spooked and runs. She runs into the man in the tophat, who tells her (…helpfully…) to return to her car.

Gerald arrives with a farmer and his draft horse. The farmer brings them to an inn—the Grand Hotel—which doesn’t appear to have much business. The innkeeper Bruno (Peter Madden) and his wife Anna (Vera Cook) tear sheets off furniture when they arrive. The only other guest at the inn is the man in the tophat, Professor Zimmer.

With the excuse that the cooking is poor at the inn, Dr. Ravna invites them to dinner at his castle. The Harcourts accept (sure, why not?). Dinner is delicious. Dr. Ravna is charming, as are his children, Sabena (Jacquie Wallis) and Carl (Barry Warren). Dr. Ravna even offers to have petrol shipped in for them.

A few days later, Sabena and Carl invite the Harcourts to a masquerade ball, even offering to furnish them with appropriate dress. Sure, why not? At the party, Marianne is lured to a locked room, and Sabena slips Gerald a potent Mickey Finn.

When Gerald wakes in the morning, Carl tells him he’s not welcome. He got drunk and took advantage of their hospitality. Gerald asks after his wife. Carl tells him he came there alone.

Thoughts:

The sets, design, and clothing in the movie are quite striking. The interior of the castle is elaborate. By contrast, the inn has “Grand Hotel” stenciled on the outer wall, but its gate hangs open. Bruno and Anna are happy for paying customers and, upon learning Gerald and Marianne and newlyweds, try to make them as comfortable as possible.

However, they’re hiding something. Is the inn haunted? They are beholden to Dr.  Ravna in some way. Marianne notices Anna examining the contents of a drawer—keepsakes—and weeping. She understands they had a daughter. What happened to her?

Then there’s the only other guest in the inn, Professor Zimmer, who, like Cassandra, accurately predicts disaster, only to have his warning be ignored. Unlike Cassandra, his warnings are clear as mud, possibly because he drinks like a fish. He seems powerless to act against the evil Dr. Ravna until Gerald comes to him seeking help in recovering his beloved Marianne.

The solution to the vampire problem is not the typical cross and/or holy water, albeit it’s nice and gory.

According to Wikipedia, a television version of this was released in the U.S., editing out all scenes with blood. To make up for time, the writers added a whole new subplot.

Overall, I enjoyed this lurid little flick, but frankly, Rocky Horror Picture Show did the couple getting lost and stumbling on a castle much better. And the latter has music.

This movie can be watched here.

Title: Kiss of the Vampire (1963)

Directed by
Don Sharp…(directed by)

Writing Credits
Anthony Hinds…(screenplay by) (as John Elder)

Cast (in credits order)
Clifford Evans…Professor Zimmer
Edward de Souza…Gerald Harcourt
Noel Willman…Dr. Ravna
Jennifer Daniel…Marianne Harcourt
Barry Warren…Carl Ravna
Brian Oulton…1st disciple
Noel Howlett…Father Xavier
Jacquie Wallis…Sabena Ravna
Peter Madden…Bruno

Released: 1963
Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Unrated

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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