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Vampires' Night Orgy, The

Review by: 
Blackgloves
Release Date: 
1972
Studio: 
Pagan
Genre: 
Vampire
Format: 
DVD
Region: 
0 PAL
Aspect Ratio: 
2.35:1
Directed by: 
Leon Klimovsky
Cast: 
Jack Taylor
Dyanik Zurakowska
Helga Line
Jose Guardiala
Movie: 
4
Extras: 
1
Bottom Line: 
4

 Spanish horror of the early seventies took the innocent charm of the classic Universal monster series and added it's own large dose of (then) funky modernity in the form of the brash fashion sense of that period and copious amounts of blood and nudity. Thirty years later, when seventies horror is remembered with as much nostalgia as it's thirties counterpart, Spain's unique brand now seems particularly fascinating to fans of European horror. It's defining characteristic was it's unlikely potpourri of conflicting elements: the sleazy and the cynical are mixed in with traditional monster movie conventions to create some tantalisingly original and imaginative b-movie fare. With the sure hand of steady craftsman, Leon Klimovsky at it's helm "The Vampires' Night Orgy" proves to be one of the very best examples of it's type; with it's tiny budget affording it little in the way of believable special effects or elaborate set design, the film is instead buoyed along by it's relentless enthusiasm and beguiling energy; those accustomed to the weird idiosyncrasies of European horror will certainly find plenty to enjoy here.
 
Set in present-day Spain, the film introduces us to a busload of itinerant workers who have been promised work in a village in a remote region of the Spanish countryside. Unfortunately, their bus driver drops dead at the wheel and after steering the bus to safety, the travellers get themselves lost in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, they stumble upon a completely empty village which also turns out to be perpetually shrouded in twilight. The only other person around is American tourist, Louis (Jack Taylor) who's car has broken down in the area and who joins the others for the night in what appears to be a hastily abandoned tavern with half-eaten meals still left on the dining tables! They all awaken in the morning to find the inhabitants have returned and the mayor (Jose Guardiala) explains their absence by claiming that it is a tradition for the population to hold a vigil at the local graveyard whenever somebody in the village dies. The truth is that the inhabitants are all slaves of a vampire countess (Helga Line) who has turned them all into flesh-eating zombie/vampires! The travellers begin to be picked off one by one -- either by the lustful countess herself, or the flesh-hungry villagers -- and Louis and one of the female passengers, Alma (Dyanik Zurakowska) are the only two to realise the truth in time to attempt to escape the clutches of the evil vampire and her ravenous subjects.
 
This is a really great introduction to Seventies Spanish horror cinema: like many films from the period, it is dominated by the unique sensibilities of Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy, even though he isn't actually in the film! This is surely down to the fact that Leon Klimovsky directed several of Naschy's best films and he brings that same sense of controlled madness to the proceedings here. The score is made up of a bizarre and catholic mix of Spaghetti Western-style cues, loungy jazz and synthy prog rock; it's radically varied nature often gives the impression that a bunch of random library music cues have been dumped on the soundtrack haphazardly since the music sometimes appears not to "fit" the images. This is one of the more common idiosyncrasies of seventies European horror: a murder sequence might just as easily be set to some perky jazz music rather than something moody, or what might normally be deemed "appropriate", and "The Vampire's Night Orgy" really goes for it in this department -- creating a really unusual ambience that the viewer will either love or hate!
 
The offbeat nature of the film is also illustrated by it's unusual choice of hero: Jack Taylor was a mainstay of Spanish horror, appearing in many of Jess Franco's best films. Here he plays an American tourist who's character combines elements of romantic action hero with outright pervert! It just seems typical of warped Euro-Horror sensibilities that throughout the entire film, Taylor (sporting his best porn star moustache) spy's on lead actress Dyanik Zurakowska undressing (through a hole in his bedroom wall) but is still portrayed as the unambiguous hero of the film! This introduces a rye, ironic strain of humour to the events which is also enhanced by Helga Line's oversized vampire fangs, and a giant who selects villagers to have a limb chopped off to provide meat to feed the tourists at the inn (a plan which works fine until someone discovers a human finger on their plate!)
 
But, despite all the off-kilter elements, Klimovsky delivers several extremely effective sequences: weird dreamlike scenes of the zombie villagers attacking some of the tourists on a bus; Helga Line getting passionate with one of the travellers in her bedroom, only to suddenly reveal those massive fangs and hurling the unfortunate victim through a window to the zombie hoards waiting below. Here, and elsewhere, the director reveals once again (his Naschy films are equally as good at this) that he can combine absurdist elements with unnerving, and often quite scary, scenes and have the whole package come together with bewildering effectiveness. A particularly distressing scene involves one of the female passengers who gets turned into a zombie and is later seen exhuming the body of her dead daughter and mournfully dragging it away with her! It introduces an unexpected note of poignancy just when you think you have the film pinned down as an enjoyable but lightweight piece of b-movie fun.
 
All DVD versions to be released so far have presented exactly the same transfer which, as with this R2 release from Pagan, is presented in it's non-anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image is slightly soft but is otherwise not to bad. Unfortunately, the mono English audio dub track (which is, of course, atrocious!) is very muffled and there is a very noticeable low frequency "hum" in the background throughout the entire movie! Like many Spanish horror movies, there are several versions. The original Spanish version contained more nudity and ran for slightly longer, while the English export version presented here contains alternative clothed versions of the nude scenes. There is still one scene though, involving a topless Dyanik Zurakowska, that has still made it into the English edit -- but the film never really lives up to the sleazy image projected by it's salacious title! That doesn't stop this being an essential purchase for Euro-shock fans though: it's a first class slice of macabre Euro-Horror entertainment!

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