The Kiss of the Vampire (1963)

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*. Count Ravna is a somewhat diminished thing, isn’t he? Dracula has gone from a gloomy castle to a domestic chateau furnished with a beautiful family (complete with piano-playing son), some songbirds, and a shaggy dog by the fireplace (if you blink you’ll miss it, but it’s there). He even breaks out the cheesy Chinese lanterns when throwing a party.
*. Is there something British about the horror “cozy”? Note how the local Grand Hotel is just a family-run bread-and-breakfast operation, where you even sit down and eat with the owners.
*. By the way, I’m aware that in The Brides of Dracula the Meinster estate is originally referred to as a castle and then later in the film as a chateau, but I think this is only because the characters are speaking French. In this film we’re definitely talking about a manor house, not a château fort.
*. Indeed, the whole vampire mythos is diminished considerably here. Following on The Brides of Dracula but making the point even more emphatically, vampirism is associated with alternate, sixties lifestyles. Ravna’s acolytes are just a New Age cult of junkies and swingers. Zimmer’s daughter is the archetype: turning from God and the village to go to the big city, where she hangs out with the “smart set” and catches a “disease” from Ravna. It’s Wordsworth’s “Michael” Hammerized.

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*. I was even thinking that the name of Bruno’s daughter, Tania, was somehow significant, but Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the SLA ten years later.
*. I love it when these Hammer films go outside. Bray Studios always seems a bit kitschy to me, but you can really feel the fresh air in the outdoor photography. That can’t be a wind machine at the end.
*. I also really like how Ravna’s cult turns into a pack of bickering ninnies as soon as things start to go wrong. But then I guess the point is that without their Master they’re totally helpless.
*. You can’t help but be reminded of The Birds by the bat attack at the end. Both films were made at the same time, and indeed the release of this one was delayed to avoid direct comparisons.
*. The idea of defeating Ravna through black magic is weird. How does invoking evil destroy him? I thought bats and vampires were friends. It’s interesting to note that this ending was originally intended for The Brides of Dracula but Peter Cushing didn’t think it made sense. It doesn’t here either, but for a Hammer film it looks pretty spectacular.

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