The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

I VAMPIRI (1963) **

Women keep turning up dead in France without a drop of blood in them, leading the press to proclaim that there’s a vampire on the loose.  In actuality, it’s a mad scientist living in a decrepit castle who is stealing the blood of virgins and using it to create a serum to keep his old hag of a wife eternally young.  The grizzled looking grandma takes the potion which temporary restores her youth so she can throw herself debutante balls and make time with a studly journalist.  Luckily, the journalist is more interested in getting a scoop than getting laid and when he learns of her foul deeds, he sends in the cops to gun down the scientist for meddling in God’s domain while the old woman shrivels up like a prune. 


This was the first horror movie ever filmed in Italy because of rampant government censorship.  (Fucking fascists!)  Like many “firsts”, it’s not very good but it’s worth a look if you want to see the seedling that spawned countless Italian horror flicks. 


You might be able to tell just by looking at I Vampiri’s uneven quality that it was a rushed production.  Meddling producers caused original director Ricardo (The Ghost) Freda to walk off the set, but be glad he did because that gave the film’s cinematographer, Mario Bava a chance to step in and finish the film.  Bava, of course went on to be one of the most revered horror directors in Italy and any Bava fan worth his salt will probably want to check out the film just to see how he got his start. 


Like most of Bava’s work, the film is quite stylish looking and has a couple of atmospheric sets (like the dungeon).  Unfortunately, the film offers no surprises and is dull as all get out to boot.  Vampire fans will also be severely disappointed by the fact that there are NO vampires in this flick as it’s another one of those Old-Woman-Looking-for-the-Fountain-of-Youth-Parading-Around-as-Her-Niece Movies.  This genre is an old hat and you’ve seen it done lots better before; my favorite being The Leech Woman. 


It ain’t great, although you may get a kick out of the surprisingly sophisticated special effects of the old bat rapidly aging.  They’re reminiscent of the ’32 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and are easily the coolest thing about the film.  If you don’t count a bunch of Parisian trollops inexplicably speaking Italian that is.  


AKA:  Evil’s Commandment.  AKA:  Lust of a Vampire.  AKA:  The Devil’s Commandment.  AKA:  The Vampires.

Tags: bava, horror, i
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