Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quick Bites

A mini-update. I have five more films in the can, and probably will add another tonight, but time is short, and I'm sneaking in two reviews.

The Fearless Vampire Killers (Roman Polanski, 1967)
I stand aghast at how underrated this film is. Sandwiched in Polanski's canon between Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby, two of the greatest horror films of all, it must be easy to dismiss this. But if The Fearless Vampire Killers isn't exactly scary, it just might be the definitive horror comedy - spoken with all reverence to Young Frankenstein, Gremlins and Shaun of the Dead. Jack MacGowran and Polanski himself comprise the titular duo scouring wintry Transylvania for fanged foes. It's a comic match made in heaven, hitting some hilarious highs with MacGowran's Professor getting stuck in the castle window, and their short-lived undercover stint at the vampire ball. There's also Sharon Tate, staggeringly beautiful and perfectly at home in Polanski's goth-comic wonderland. The movie is one hilarious set piece after another and surely ranks among the great vampire films, and I will forever more devote myself to spreading the word on this one.

Tombs of the Blind Dead (Amando de Ossorio, 1971)
Despite a helluva buildup and the terrifically terrifying scene in mannequin land pictured below, this was a bit of a let down. The opening half an hour is masterful, with a Pandora's Box type feel as a woman forsakes her travel companions and ventures into an abandoned settlement on her own, unwittingly disturbing the undead Knights Templar hanging about the ruins. But the suspense gets squashed as soon as these mummified creatures make an entrance. The downfall of low budget horror is showing too much, and the unseen threat of these guys was more horrifying than the reality. Alas, not all that it could have been, but well worth a look, especially for devotees of 70s foreign horror.

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