THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS
DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES; THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS OR PARDON ME BUT YOUR TEETH ARE IN MY NECK
If the truth be told, the film could have been cut even further. Even the cut version feels long and padded and one has doubts that Polanskis full-length version would make it a better film. Roman Polanski is far too meticulous a director to work in the genre of knockabout slapstick that the film aims for. The film seems to consist mostly of clonks over the head, stumblings, inane gibberings, kicks in the ass, or in having the vampire hunters stake barrels of wine or tripping over coffin lids by accident. The middle of the film is taken up by at least a half-hour of running around the castle that seems to go on forever. It leaves one with sympathies with the distributors decision to cut the film. The Fearless Vampire Killers has a body of supporters but mostly it seems a work whose virtues are argued in isolated pieces rather than as a whole.
Certainly, there are one or two moments of imagination in the unenlivening silliness the scene where the dance wheels around in front of a mirror and the three live people are the only ones reflected. The film is better when it comes to its puncturing of the cliches of the vampire genre, in particular the ones created by Hammer Films the masque is a direct spoof of Kiss of the Vampire (1962), for instance. This films Van Helsing equivalent (an amusing hopped-up performance from Jack MacGowran) is seen as a bumbling idiot who, far from succeeding, instead ends up transporting vampirism to the rest of the world. Or the handsome blonde vampire of the piece, modelled after David Peel in Hammers The Brides of Dracula (1960), who has more of an interest in the hero than the heroine.
The production values for the film are excellent rather than the painted backdrop that would stand in for the standard Hammer castle, the castle is built with impressive three-dimensional detail over an entire soundstage. There is also a fine score from Polish composer Christopher (Krzysztof) Komeda.