During the 1970's, the combination of vampirism and lesbianism proved to be a prolific sort of hybrid, with b-movie directors around the globe eager to get their mitts on a screenplay, ANY screenplay, that would allow them to put their particular stamp on this wildly popular sub-genre. With 1974's Vampyres (aka: Daughters of Dracula), Spanish exploitation maestro José Ramón Larraz offers one of the more coherent (and extremely violent) entries in the sapphic suckhead sweepstakes.
Fran (Morris) and Miriam (Dziubinska) are two vampiresses who died violent deaths in a secluded country manor in the north of England. The women spend their undead existance posing as hitchhikers, luring opportunistic men back to the manor to feed, and then dumping them back in their cars and covering up their deeds as road accidents. Fran picks up a lonely middle-aged man named Ted (Brown), and decides to keep him around for awhile, much to Miriam's chagrin, however his presence doesn't prevent the girls from keeping up with their normal nocturnal activities. Much nudity and gratuitous sex and violence follows.
Vampyres owes much to the erotic vampire films of Jess Franco in terms of subject matter and substance, but Larraz shows much more style and flair for the genre. The film is beautifully shot, with the autumn forests of England serving as a suitably gothic backdrop. I rather enjoyed the performances of the two leads, Morris and Dziubinska, and found their onscreen chemistry extremely erotic and effective. The fact that the film also features some genuinely frightening moments is the icing on the cake, really, and something I didn't expect. My only complaint about the film is it's ending, which seems a bit abrupt and leaves a few plot points completely unresolved. Whether this was intentional or done out of necessity due to time and budget constraints is unclear, but it's a less than satisfying coda.
Blue Underground (a company that just defies expectation with each series of releases) offer the film uncut and uncensored for the first time (Anchor Bay's previous version made similiar claims but was missing approximately 29 seconds of gore), in a painstaklingly restored widescreen transfer that looks fantastic. The DVD features a commentary by Larraz and producer, Brian Smedley-Aston that's a hilarious and priceless example of two cultures colliding. Larraz, who's colourful take on the English language is genuinely endearing, speaks with a manic enthusiasm, which is a sharp contrast to Smedley-Aston's dry British wit. There's also a nice interview with the two stars who reflect on their work on the film with fond memories, even though it seems that neither has ever seen the film!! Morris offers the most insight on her part, and seems quite game to discuss the film, while Dziubinska seems a bit more cagey on the topic (although she readily admits to enjoying the experience). The extras are rounded out with a "lost" scene, a gallery of Dziubinska's modeling photos, trailers, a poster and still gallery, and a DVD ROM feature that I didn't watch because I spend way too much time in front of a computer as it is.
Vampyres isn't as much of a lost classic as many of Blue Underground's other releases seeing that it's been released on DVD by two other companies, but Blue Underground's version is truly the definitive one. As terrifying as it is titillating, Vampyres is rare example of horror and erotica done right.