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Vampyres (1974)

They shared the pleasures of the flesh, and the horrors of the grave!

Two women are lying together in bed. Both wake up, and they kiss... when suddenly, the door to their bedroom opens: A man with a gun! He fires several shots at the scared lovers... and they fall onto the bed - dying - dead.

So starts Vampyres, a 1974 movie by José Ramón Larraz.

Then the titles start rolling.

Cut to present day: A couple is driving its car with a trailer through the woods, when they come across a female stopper. They ignore her, driving on - but a man is willing to take the (quite attractive, in that 70s way) woman in and drive her to her goal.

Back to the couple. They parked close to an abandoned castle, which somehow seems to worry the woman, Harriet (played by Sally Faulkner). She keeps thinking back to the woman they saw - and that other, blonde woman, who was hiding behind the trees... but only Harriet saw her. Maybe it was a hallucination? But we know better.

And the abandoned castle isn't as abandoned as they were led to believe - a single scream, coming from the lungs of a man, wakes Harriet from her sleep.
But no one's out there... or so she is assured by her husband, John (Brian Deacon).

The next morning, she sees two women - one of them the brown-haired woman who was hitchhiking, the other one the blonde woman who was hiding behind the trees. They were running off, hand in hand, to the nearby cemetery.

The day is spent with leisurely activities - painting, fishing... and images of the cemetery haunt us with their spectral beauty.

And again, we witness the dark-haired hitchhiker - Fran - getting a ride, with her mysterious blonde companion hiding behind the thin trees...

This time, the man lucky enough to pick up the sensuous, full-lipped Fran comes with her, accompanying her inside the "abandoned" castle - and of course, Harriet sees them. She has noticed... and in her mind, she already has constructed something dark and foreboding around the castle and its apparent inhabitants.

What we are being treated to here is a masterpiece of vampire cinema. I should know - although, as I already pointed out in my review of Låt den rätte komma in, I am not too big a fan of vampire movies, but the Gods be my witness that I own a lot of them. And I mean a lot a lot. However, I don't really enjoy most of them - if I have to watch a vampire flick, I prefer it to be one of the more "artsy" types... or, as in this case, a beautifully done, interesting movie. This is the type of lesbian vampire movie that I can thoroughly enjoy.

Back to the story... Fran and the as of yet anonymous man she invited into their home have some fun - of the carnal sort. What follows is a genuinely creepy scene - the as of yet anonymous gallant she invited finds her asleep next to him, her eyes wide open... but unseeing. He also feels weak, and getting out of bed to check the door makes him more than just uneasy. Exhausted, he falls back into the bed - he didn't even make it to the door. What happened during the night...? And why does he have a deep gash on his left arm?

And where is the beautiful woman he spent the night with - now that it's day and the sun is up in the sky?

Not just that... but he also finds one of the wine glasses broken, covered with some thick ...red at its edges. And there's blood on the sheets where he was lying on.

And still, Fran is nowhere to be found...

He searches through the castle - but besides for a dangerous looking dagger, he finds nothing.

And so, he decides to leave the empty, abandoned castle. On his way, he stops by the couple and their van, because he's searching for help with his wound. The cut is deep, and he explains it, rationalising its existence to himself and the couple by stating that he fell onto a glass, hence the injury. He leaves with mysterious words as he's asked if someone lives in "that house" (referring to the castle) - "That's what I asked myself earlier this day - and I haven't found an answer!"

But for some reason... for some reason we don't know, if we're normal humans, he drives back to the castle, sleeping through the day - until he finally awakens as another cars drives by, and Fran exits it. She apologises for her disappearance earlier that day, and Ted is okay with that. But Fran has brought friends - the beautiful blonde Miriam, and a ...friend of hers, a young man.

As Miriam and her young visitor, Rupert, go to fetch some more red wine for the company's amusement, Ted starts up a conversation with Fran, during which he finds out that the two women are lovers.

This movie has some awesome dialogues - and need I talk about the pictures? It deals openly with sex and sexuality, without degrading itself to the level of softcore porn. This is not a Jess Franco movie about pretty lesbian vampires - this is a serious, nearly flawlessly executed, sensuous movie about two women who need to drink blood.

I love that they both - Fran and Miriam - don't have fangs, and that they and their interaction with one another and the others give us a portrayal of vampires that isn't Hollywood's idea of what a vampire should entail, but instead one that paints the two blood drinkers in a more human light. They are women first and foremost, and lovers, too. They just happen to have to drink blood.

Miriam (the blonde one) warns Fran that she's playing a dangerous game with the man she more or less took in and is playing with - but Fran won't listen. We are left to wonder why...

As another day comes, both women are off to the cemetery together - again.

Meanwhile, Ted has noticed that his watch stopped functioning - again. It never stops... only when he's around Fran resp. her friend Miriam. He also discovers that the mirrors in the castle are covered with black tape. What could this mean...?

A short note on the subsequent theme of clocks stopping in the vicinity of the two vampyresses (hey, CG, I'm thinking of you!) - this could be explained in different ways. It could be that they're subconsciously drawing the energy off the batteries, or a metaphor for their timelessness. I, personally, prefer to think of both of these theories of mine as true within the context of this movie.

When he, Ted, tries to leave for the second time, he is stopped by the police - and, to his horror, discovers Rupert and his car - or, more appropriately, Rupert's car with the young man dead inside. He is horrified and shocked - and returns to the castle... yet again. It seems as if something is drawing him there... and it's not just his curiousity and dread. He seems to be determined to find out what the secret of the castle and its beautiful female inhabitants is...

Vampyres is a beautiful movie. The camerawork is, for the 70s, brilliant - the pictures we are shown are beautiful and hauntingly evocative, and there's no single piece of dialogue that seems forced or out of place. Much is said without words - I especially applaud Murray Brown for his role of Ted, the man who comes back again and again for the vampire Fran - fascinated by her, infatuated with her - the mysterious woman whom he cannot fathom, whose very being he can only touch through the medium of his blood being licked off his wounds by her...

Special mentions also go to Marianne Morris, who plays the female vampire Fran, and her younger companion Miriam, who is played by the beautiful Anulka Dziubinska (only credited as Anulka in the movie's credits). The performances of these women is astonishing. It doesn't matter whether you like their looks or not - and as it's a movie from 1974, I doubt that many viewers in this day and age will see them as beautiful. However, in terms of the 70s, they are very beautiful indeed, and eroticism oozes from every single movement of them. It's in their movements, their smiles and the way they bear themselves. Their eyes alone say more than dialogue could - and, luckily, this isn't a dialogue-intensive movie.

A warning, though: If you're not into watching two women having a go at it whilst completely naked, kissing and playing and licking and doing other wonderful things to each other with the inclusion of bloodplay - don't watch this movie. If you have no problems with things like these, though... enjoy the ride.

This is the vampire movie I always wanted someone to make. And ever since Ive seen it for the first time about four years ago, this feeling hasn't changed. This movie is brutal and violent at times, yet sensuous and beautiful, filled with ardent splendor intermingling seamlessly with terror and violence. But in the end, beauty and eroticism prevail. At times, an almost dream-like quality fills the movie - and a tangible sense of despair, mixed with urgency.

Still one of my favourites in the vampire-subgenre.

9.5/10 ways to slowly drain a human of blood through subsequent sexual and sanguinarian feedings...