THE VAMPIRE HAPPENING (DVD)

2.5 Stars
Year Released: 1971
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 102 minutes
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Betty Williams, a Hollywood actress, leaves for Transylvania as she has inherited her family home. Taking its locale into account it should come as no surprise that her new pad is a creepy old manor with a creepy old butler and a creepy old torture chamber. The castle is also equipped with the family mausoleum, and here Betty finds her grandmother, Clairimonde, looking as young as ever. Clairimonde is a vampire.

The butler, Josef, explains that Clairimonde seduced Betty’s grandfather and forever held a curse over him. Betty, looking identical to her grandmother (Pia Degermark played both roles) falls for a local, Jens Larson. The two lovebirds carouse around naked (a lot), while Josef attempts to rid the castle of its evil entity. When Betty leaves the room Clairimonde enters. Jens is unable to tell the difference, and begins romping about with the vampiress, but curiously she does not bite his neck and seems only interested in copulating. Josef is confused as to which woman is which and remains so for almost the entire picture.

Later, Count Dracula has a blood suckers ball and the town’s un-dead inhabitants are all in attendance. There’s a rock band, loads of topless chicks and everyone is getting drunk. At the party, Clairimonde is accosted by the Count as he abhors the idea of her having sex, “…the worst kind of sex. Human sex!” Betty also shows up, and later Jens and Josef make their entrances. All kinds of goofy “switcheroo” stuff goes on with Betty and Clairimonde as Jens and Josef play “cat and mouse” with the both of them, never quite knowing who is who.

Eventually our protagonists procure their prey and a plan is devised to eradicate the village of all the nosferatus. Their aim is to turn back the clock so that the drunken party guests will lose track of time and disintegrate in the rays of the morning sun. The scheme works, and all is well.

In 1971 Freddie Francis was hardly a new-comer to the cinema of gothic chillers and the like. By the time of “The Vampire Happening” he’d already turned in quite the tenure directing British screen horror legends Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Oliver Reed. Francis had been at the helm of 21 films by 1970 and a large majority of them were genre films. Francis desired a change of pace and this fairly amusing piece was his vehicle.

“The Vampire Happening” is not played for scares, but for laughs and titillation. The titillation is certainly succeeding as Pia Degermark looks really good. She spends much of the film either in slinky, sexy things or just outright naked. The comedy, however, is low-brow slapstick that will rarely, if ever, bring a smile to one’s face. The film is fun, but a bit tiring at 102 minutes. It’s also known as “Gebissen wird nur nachts” and “Happening der Vampire”.

Vintage Movie Classics released this as “Vicious Vixens” along with “Lady Frankenstein” and “Vicious Kiss”.



Posted on December 27, 2005 in Reviews by
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