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DVD Review

DVD cover

Vampira (1974)
(2017 Reissue)


Starring: David Niven and Teresa Graves
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 14 August 2017

An aging Dracula finds that he has to open the castle to guided tours to make ends meet. The tours also have a different purpose as Dracula is looking for a very rare blood type to resurrect his beloved Vampira. When a bevy of beauties turn up for a photo shoot he discovers that the blood he has stolen has changed Vampira’s skin colour...

Vampira (1974. 1 hr 24 min) is a comedy/horror film, directed by Clive Donner (What's New Pussycat? (1965), Oliver Twist (1982)) from a script by Jeremy Lloyd (Are You Being Served? (1972), 'Allo 'Allo! (1982)).

Horror comedy has a long tradition dating back to the 1920’s ‘Spooks’ and at times has been a successful genre producing films like Little Shop of Horrors (1960/1986), The Raven (1963), The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and, of course, everyone’s favourite, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).

The mainstays of Universal Pictures monsters have done well, with a number of notable films depicting Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy and the Werewolf in successful films, latterly zombies have joined the roster of popular monsters. Oddly enough Dracula, although well represented in the mainstream has fared particularly badly when it comes to comedy. Asia gave us the Mr Vampire series of movies and famously Mel Brooks directed Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) none of which could be considered wholly effective either as horror or as comedy.

There are many roles that an actor may have on their wish list and for David Niven apparently the chance to play Dracula was on his. Niven had had a long and distinguished career staring in many notable movies including, A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and in the Pink Panther series. So you really have to ask why he agreed to star in a film which is sub Carry On material. It’s not to say he didn’t have form as he had already appeared in the extremely flawed comedy Casino Royale (1967).

Given the writer of the film it is not a surprise that the script is full of some truly awful double entendres which do little to elevate what is already a very lame script. The film roped in a couple of character actors in the form of Peter Bayliss, who is the only actor to come out of the whole thing with his honour intact, and Bernard Bresslaw playing the same character he always played: Bernard Bresslaw. Although even here he is a welcome addition. Freddie Jones completes the trio, most likely recognisable to a modern audience for his portrayal of Sandy Thomas, since 2005, in British soap opera Emmerdale

The plot's saner aspects would not look out of place on a Brian Rix farce, although the laughs are few. The film also suffers from a cultural and sociological change which would see the main character's quest, to find a cure for the blood which has accidentally turned his wife black, as more than a little offensive, the film does try to pull this back to a level of equality by the end, but I think that will feel a little too late.

In the end your left with a "What the hell were they all thinking" feeling. Niven had great acting chops, Donner had made some truly good films and Lloyd had written 'Allo 'Allo!. Ok, just spotted the major flaw!

The picture is fine but the DVD contains no extras.


Charles Packer

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