If Appellate Judge Dan Mancini were a vampire, he'd definitely snack on busty Italian starlets.
Our review of Slaughter Of The Vampires (Image Entertainment Release), published December 23rd, 2005, is also available.
"Who can you be to have this mysterious power over me? Who can you be that you poisoned all the love I bore my husband and made me become your slave?"—Louise
Writer-director Roberto Mauri's (Vengeance Is My Forgiveness) light erotic vampire flick is, like so many vampire flicks, essentially a slimmed-down version of Bram Stoker's epistolary novel, Dracula. In it, young aristocrats Wolfgang (Walter Brandi, The Vampire's Lover) and Louise (Graziella Granata, A Taste for Women) are celebrating their nuptials when a tall, pale stranger (Dieter Eppler, The Secret of Dr. Mabuse) crashes the party. Soon Louise is under his spell and she allows him (the titular vampire) to feed on her. A local doctor is stumped as Louise grows weak and pale for no apparent reason. Wolfgang rushes to Vienna to fetch the brilliant Dr. Nietzsche to save her. Nietzsche knows before seeing Louise that a vampire is the cause of the girl's illness. Will the two men return to Wolfgang's manse in time to save Louise and destroy the vampire once and for all?
You may be wondering whether the film's title means the vampires are slaughtering or being slaughtered. The answer is neither. "Slaughter" isn't a word that belongs in the title of a movie that is essentially about gentle (almost chaste) vampiric eroticism and a delicately creepy atmosphere. Mauri uses the backbone of Stoker's seminal vampire tale as an excuse for his beautiful black-and-white photography of women in frilly dresses with push-up bustiers, men in ruffled shirts and flowing velvet capes, and the menacing grounds of a gothic mansion. Slaughter of the Vampires is a been-there-done-that vampire flick with a half-assed script and mediocre acting, but I couldn't take my eyes off of it. It's not a great vampire flick, but it's a major victory of style over substance.
As with their two-disc release of Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dark Sky Films has redeemed a cult flick that's been abused by other studios on DVD. Image released Slaughter of the Vampires a couple years ago in a full-screen, redacted form that raised the ire of genre fans. Dark Sky's release restores the film to its original length and presents it in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, enhanced for widescreen displays. The black-and-white image is stellar for a low-budget European horror flick made over 40 years ago. Most of the flaws appear rooted in shooting errors—slips in focus, odd lighting choices, and the like. Age-related damage is minor and isolated. Overall, the image is sharp and smooth with beautifully rendered contrast. The transfer takes full advantage of the fact that the movie is a pleasure to look at even if its story is a retread.
Audio is a two-channel mono English dub. The voice acting isn't bad, and the well-mixed track doesn't have the artificial flavor of most dubs. Still, inclusion of the original Italian track would've been nice.
The main supplement is a contemporary interview with actor Dieter Eppler. It clocks in at close to ten minutes. A photo gallery contains 21 images of promotional items like posters, lobby cards, and print advertisements. An English-language theatrical trailer is also archived on the disc.
Slaughter of the Vampires is a moody, stylish, but ultimately predictable vampire tale. Roberto Mauri earns his directing credit, but probably should've given the writing credit to Bram Stoker. If you've read Stoker's novel or seen the film adaptations by F.W. Murnau, Tod Browning, Francis Ford Coppola, or countless others, you'll see each and every one of Slaughter's twists and turns coming from a mile away. Even though it's derivative, it has more than enough atmosphere to make it worth 79 minutes of your time on some foggy, moonlit night.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Dark Sky Films
• Actor Dieter Eppler: "Interview with the Vampire"
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