Kiss of the Vampire (1963)

“I advise you to ask no questions of anyone in this region.”

Kiss of the Vampire Poster

Synopsis:
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.

Genres:

Review:
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
    Kiss of the Vampire Opening
    Kiss of the Vampire Sets
    Kiss of the Vampire Masq Ball
    Kiss of the Vampire Fangs2
  • Atmospheric cinematography
    Kiss of the Vampire Cinematography
  • Noel Willman as Dr. Ravna
    Kiss of the Vampire Willman
  • The surprising yet innovative ending
    Kiss of the Vampire Ending

Must See?
Yes, as one of Hammer Studios’ best outings, and a uniquely timely take on the vampire genre.

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One Response to “Kiss of the Vampire (1963)”

  1. Must-see, and one of the Hammer films that is probably fun for several viewings.

    Other than that…since what I wrote at my facebook cult/camp site pretty much sums up my feelings for this film, I’ll re-post those thoughts here:

    When Richard O’Brien and Roman Polanski were creating, respectively, ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’, they were clearly inspired by films from the Hammer Studios. ~perhaps this one, in particular (among others), since one can easily see certain elements here that would find their way into their comic and musical successors. ‘KOTV’ is a Hammer film that does not star Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee – in fact, the cast is comprised of much-lesser-known actors. Yet, thanks largely to Don Sharp’s direction and a clever script that unravels information very slowly and often by suggestion, this is among the Hammer films that have held up particularly well. Yes, some of the dialogue is borderline silly (and could easily lend itself quickly to parody) but, overall, it’s a rather compelling flick. The film’s concluding sequences are especially strong (including a finale that mirrors Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ – released in March 1963; ‘KOTV’ followed in September). I rather enjoyed revisiting this one after many years.

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