“I advise you to ask no questions of anyone in this region.”
A honeymooning couple (Edward de Souza and Jennifer Daniel) staying in a remote inn run by a nervous man (Peter Madden) and his depressed wife (Vera Cook) — with an inebriated professor (Clifford Evans) as the only other inhabitant — are invited to dinner by a local nobleman (Noel Ravna) and his two grown children (Barry Warren and Jacquie Wallis), who seduce the couple with their charms and lure them back for a masquerade ball with nefarious purposes.
Hammer Studios’ unique entry in the vampire genre offers an appropriate sense of menace, effectively atmospheric visuals and sets, and a convincingly creative vision of what a “den of vampires” might look and act like. While De Souza and Daniel are a little too conveniently naive as the film opens — caught up in conjugal bliss and unaware of how strange their new environment really is — this allows the plot to move forward smoothly, as Daniel is easily taken in by the charms of their enchanting new friends, and de Souza realizes too late that his wife has been brainwashed and kidnapped into the vampires’ cult. The scenes showing white-shrouded vampires sitting around a room waiting for their leader to tell them what to do are eerily reminiscent of Moonie life in the early 1960s, demonstrating the power of fantasy and horror to tap into the cultural zeitgeist. The climax is genuinely heart-stopping, as we wonder how Daniel can be “deprogrammed” without dying. This would make a fascinating if unconventional double-bill with the cult sleeper Ticket to Heaven (1981).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Highly effective sets, costumes, and make-up
- Atmospheric cinematography
- Noel Willman as Dr. Ravna
- The surprising yet innovative ending
Yes, as one of Hammer Studios’ best outings, and a uniquely timely take on the vampire genre.