The Fearless Vampire Killers
The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Dance of the Vampires (1967)
Written (shared credit) and directed by Roman Polanski
Summary by Nadia Bryden
The movie is old-style cinema, with exaggerated movements and traits of characters and slapstick comedy—main characters Professor Abronsius and his young assistant Alfred are hopelessly clumsy. The actors’ thick accents take a little getting used to.
The Professor and Alfred are travelling in snowy Transylvania and arrive at their destination. The villagers there are secretive and seem generally nervous. The visitors notice garlic hanging from ceilings in bulk everywhere, and find out there is a castle in town. Excited, they research various signs of some unknown thing they are experts in (presumably vampires) once the innkeeper shows them to their room. Nobody will be straight with them about the sense of Evil surrounding them.
Red-haired Sarah, the innkeeper’s daughter, is taking a bath when a vampire comes in through the window, bites her, and takes her away. Alfred sees this happen through the crack of the door, and after sounding an alarm, the innkeeper hangs out the window calling to “His Excellency” to bring back his daughter. We find the innkeeper dead the next day with two puncture wounds located at several large veins around his body. The Professor finally has proof that vampires exist!
The Professor explains to the widow that vampire victims can get their souls back by being staked in their heart, but when they go to stake the innkeeper he is gone – revived! The Professor and assistant follow him on skis and find themselves at a castle – gasp! Obviously, they sneak in. It’s also a full moon. A hunchback shows up to lead them, because apparently they are expected. All the portraits on the wall are of hideously inhuman-like figures.
Count von Krolock, the master of the castle, tells the Professor he has read his work and wants his autograph. He is charming and polite. They discuss science and the Count shows off his library before showing them to their rooms, because he would like them to stay as guests. During the day (while the vampires sleep), the Professor and Alfred try to stake the bodies and fail because they keep getting sidetracked by various antics, including the Professor by books and telescopes and Alfred by Sarah, who is now residing in the Count’s castle.
The Count’s son Herbert tries to bite Alfred (because he is gay), and when they try to run away, Alfred and the Professor find a room full of waking vampires preparing to attend the castle ball. The Count appears from behind and says he is planning on transforming them later, and warns that escape is futile. He locks them up but they escape during the ball, where the Count is now dancing with Sarah.
Noted throughout the movie: Every time a crucifix is brought up to a vampire, they giggle nervously, and then later cower from one… Also, they definitely have no reflection. And they worship Satan.
The Professor and Alfred rescue Sarah from the ball (with all the vampires chasing them), and get away from the castle by horse-driven sleigh. It’s all so exciting!
SPOILER: But then we discover all assumptions have been incorrect; Sarah has already become a vampire, and she bites Alfred. The Professor continues driving the sleigh’s horses and never notices that he is transporting a vampire back to town, which our narrator tells us “allows the Evil to spread.”
You can watch the Fearless Vampire Killers online at StageVu