Blue Underground // 1974 // 88 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // March 19th, 2010
They shared the pleasures of the flesh, and the horrors of the grave!
What could be a more simple setup for a gory horror story that seeks to marry the frightening with its own brand of eroticism? Glamorous and frequently-nude lesbian vampires named Fran (Marianne Morris, The Love Box) and Miriam (Anulka, Playboy Playmate of the Month May 1973) lure unsuspecting travelers to their Gothic mansion, in order to satisfy their insatiable thirst for blood. Vampyres is a stylish and sure fire hit if you're into erotic shock horror of the Hammer variety as opposed to today's more blood-soaked torture porn such as Hostel or Saw. It holds its own almost four decades later as a sexy, dreamy chance to see a Playboy bunny run through the countryside in a hooded cloak looking for blood from anybody willing to go to bed with her. Writer-director Jose Ramon Larraz created a pretty fun flick that surprisingly works well as solid erotic horror done straight up as a salute to Hammer studios. Heck, he even got the famous Oakley Court castle seen in so many British horror flicks as well as The Rocky Horror Picture Show to serve as his main setting.
Blue Underground has released this title on DVD previously, and it seems all the extras come from that 2003 edition. Present is the insanely entertaining commentary with director Jose Ramon Larraz and his producer Brian Smedley-Aston. They contrast each other nicely as reserved English gentleman and fiery sex-obsessed Spaniard. Also here are the 2003 interviews with the stars Marianne Morris and Anulka who seem to have aged gracefully and kept their sense of humor about their legacy as naked bloodsuckers who were dubbed by other actresses. There are a pair of hilarious trailers as well which offer a unique chance to see how the film was marketed in Europe and then the United States. Missing entirely from the Blu-ray edition are still galleries as well as the reconstruction of a "lost" scene, so save your deluxe edition of the DVD from 2003 if you own it.
What is amped up for Blu-ray when compared to DVD editions is mainly the audio track, which grows from a single channel mono to a seven speaker full DTS-HD treatment. Not that this film needed the extra oomph, but it's nice to see it get some more sonic love. Also added in are more subtitle options if you need to show the film to a French or Spanish speaking friend. The picture looks great, but it does have that 1974 grainy quality that we saw in the DVD releases. The film is shown uncut and uncensored, and the whole thing was remastered for digital presentation. There are some minor flaws near the end where digital artifacts pop up, but overall it's hard to find fault with this one's excellent technical presentation. Blue Underground knows what the fans of this type of cinema want, and they always find a way to show their passion in the end product.
Vampyres is the kind of film that you look at and it immediately invokes a more innocent time when a couple of bloodsucking naked ladies were cause for alarm. It seems almost quaint now when you compare it to the hardcore horror films that get cranked out with plenty of gore and nudity. But it has a signature style, a unique feel that can never be captured again. Blue Underground certainly will make a lot of fans happy to see this one in high definition for the first time. Nothing feels better than watching two women run through a graveyard on their way to destroy an English motorist who never sees it coming. Vampyres is an enduring cult flick that always brings a smile to my face, even if it is a decidedly lecherous one.
Guilty of being bloodsucking very unusual ladies.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Blue Underground
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Unrated