The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
Welcome to another Fangarian suggestion for riffing from the Transylvanian Film Vaults. This one I dug up stars the director of 'Rosemary's Baby' himself, Roman Polanski.
First off the actual title is 'The Fearless Vampire Killers or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck.' (Good thing for us, 'Once Bitten' had not been produced back then, or Polanski would've probably given us an ENTIRELY different movie..)
Oh, yes, where was I? The Fearless Vampire Killers.. well, the title pretty much says it all.. if Fearless means 'complete idiots going to Transylvania to disturb the vampires, when they should leave well enough alone..'
Mainly because unlike the typical vamp films you see, where the vampire is going about giving deadly hickeys to everyone, transforming them into the undead.. (and not in the good way) which you'd think would summon expert vampire killers, like Captain Kronos, or Professor Von Goosewing... these guys instead -- believe it or not -- go directly to the source to find them some vampires.
Now, why in the world would ANYONE do this -- let alone possibly that Terry guy from Man V. Monster -- when there are better things you could do.. like go and dig up some cadaver and put a criminally insane brain inside it, reanimate and unleash it on an unsuspecting village?
Essentially because the two in-question happen to be Prof. Abronsius (ABRONSIUS?) and his assistant, Alfred. And as they approach a snow-laden, Transylvanian village, it turns out the Prof. was laughed out of his University for his dissertation about vampires, despite the fact he has several books on the topic, and has taken Alfred with him to go and kill one and bring it back to prove they do exist. Okay, an Eastern Europe village, but we all know it's Transylvania... then again.. it could be Texsylvania in Engima County, Texas, where the winters are.. no, that's where my uncle Dr. Peter Fangerstein lives in Castle Fangerstein.. so Transylvania it is...
Apologies for digressing... anyway, so these two are warmly greeted by the natives, as they warm their feet, and such... until the Prof. inquires about the local castle owned by Count von Krolock (Krolock? Great Rassilon, who exactly comes up with these names?! oh, well..). Meanwhile Polanski decides to have Alfred (who he portrays) become smitten by the owners' daughter, Sarah (played by Sharon Tate). Everything appears okay, until one fateful night, Sarah, decides to take a bath and the vampire attacks (doncha hate when that happen?), and her father (played by Alfie Bass, who was on 'Are You Being Served?' which is coincidental because Frank Thornton also guest-starred in another vamp flick, 'Old Dracula') decides to go after the vampire himself and get his daughter back, because THAT'S always a good idea.
As expected, they find the inn-keeper, deader than a doornail and frozen, with the wife yelling 'Oi,' over and over. Not screaming, 'Oh, God, he's dead!' or 'Damn, I told him NOT to go after the vampire.. which we allegedly don't have who resides in a castle that's not there...' (Yeah, that's the excuse they give the Prof.)
Of course, the Prof. suspects this is not the case, and tell the inn-keeper's wife she has to drive a wooden stake into her husband's heart... but she thinks the Prof. is looney... that is until that night, her husband springs up from the table and leaves, freaking her out.
Rather than issue a whole bunch of 'I told you sos,' to her, the Prof. and Alfred pursue the innkeeper to the Count's castle. Naturally they attempt to sneak in, only to come face to face with the Count. But rather than attack his guest, he instead is rather a hospitable vampire who gets into a discussion with the Prof. about bats (apparently the excuse they use to explain why they came to his castle in the first place). Even funnier is when they meet the Count's son, Herbert (wow, a vampire called Herbert, who knew?)
Anyway, after some wild hijinks in the castle, the two find Sarah and discover she's not been a vampire feast, but do discover the reason why Von Krolock has been so hospitable... apparently he has been preparing for the annual Vampire Ball and Sarah, the Prof. and Alfred are the main course (as if you didn't see this coming).
Naturally our trio decide they will disguise themselves as the guests and dance their way out of the hall... but are betrayed by the mirror.. you know, humans cast reflections but vampires don't... utilizing another vampire warding off schtick, the group manages to escape..
That is, until the Prof is oblivious to the fact Sarah is no longer quite the same as she was before...
There's the deal, Flamille, and now we'll come to the reasons, why, despite this being a comedy of sorts, why this gem really needs to be riffed excruciatingly..
(1) The Hilarious Reactions of Alfred and the Prof.: Basically what makes the film really unique against the other is the fact the so-called 'vampire hunter' appears clueless to most things. Esp. when Alfred's attempting to tell him when danger's about.. Case in point, when Alfred takes a peek into Sarah's bathroom and sees her being attacked by the vampire, the reaction he makes is quite hilarious, even more so when he's trying to tell the Prof. about the unexpected visitor, he doesn't realize it until after the Count has made off with his victim.
(2) The Strange Combination of Period Accuracy and Modern Times in this Film: I'll be honest with you, with most vamp flicks, usually you'll see some bit of anachronism creep in when they attempt to do it in the Past.. but Polanski actually does keep mostly with the timeframe. One interesting moment is when you see the Prof. utilizing the art of moxibustion by having Alfred apply 'flame bulbs' upon his mentor's back as a means of alleviating his back problems.
Whereas also at the same instance, Polanski sneaks in a modern touch with the old vampire genre by having the Count's son, Herbert, being gay as he takes a great interest in Alfred. One of the most hilarious scene is when he appears and hits on Alfred due to a courting book Alfred is reading. Of course, when Alfred notices Herbert lacks a reflection, he realizes he needs to get the hell out of dodge, as the book inadvertently saves Alfred's life, and a wild chase scene ensues with him and Herbert, with the Prof. saving him at the last moment.
(3) Another strange vampire myth comes to light, and no, I don't mean the whole sparkling thing in sunlight. Early in the film, Sarah is scolded for apparently bathing because for some reason it will attract vampires. Never suspected vampires to want their victims clean, but they never explain why this is a problem, nor if this legend is true why would you tempt fate?
Overall this is a hilarious film for the fact that we see our heroes get out of scrapes through practically blind luck than anything else, and while Alfred would like to do the smart thing and get the hell out of Transylvania.. the Prof. continues trekking on... despite the risk.. and rather than actually, you know, KILL the vampires, as the title indicates, they just annoy them as they presumably rescue the victim.. and they even manage to botch that up... oh, well, you can't win them all, I suppose.
But this would definitely be an excellent film for riffing, either through VOD or possibly part of the Kickstarter Live campaign... would love RiffTrax and some of the former MSTie crew to tackle this one..
So, whaddya think sirs?
Here's the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8Ciz1G_Zm0
And the chase scene with Herbert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6IQwOSlVkg
Not to mention the title here... and a scene
Rod Gonzalez commented
Yes times Infinity!
Fearless Vampire Killers deserves the MST3K! Failing that, Rifftrax is a good choice!
Actually Jennifer the real reason I hesitated on recommending this film was currently what Roman Polanski was accused of decades later. But after talking to some of my RiffTrax friends they thought it didn't matter since it would be more about the film than Polanski itself. As for Sharon Tate, ironically you don't really see much of her in this film to really make fun of her. Truthfully, you just see her in the beginning, get caught by the vampire, then escaping with the Prof and his assistant and the surprise ending. Which is it basically. But I doubt the guys would make fun of Sharon Tate as more into making fun of what she'd really be thinking as her character.
The only roadblock to riffing this movie is...it may seem a little cruel to make fun of Sharon Tate in light of what was to happen two years later.
The other interesting thing about this movie is that it inspired a musical, Dance of the Vampires. It originated in Germany and incorporated the pre-existing song Total Eclipse of the Heart. It didn't do so well, however, when they tried to transfer it to America. From what I can see, it forgoes the movie's more comedic tone in favor of a serious, dramatic, romantic one--it seemed as if they were trying to make it a Phantom Of The Opera ripoff. (Original Phantom cast members Steve Barton and Michael Crawford played Krolock in different productions.)