DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES (1967)
Bumbling Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) and his stupid assistant Alfred (Roman Polanski) are on a quest to destroy a family of vampires. In Transylvania they stay at a local tavern in a small town and witness Count Von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne) kidnap Sarah (Sharon Tate). Our heroes follow them to the vampire's gothic castle where they are caught by hunchback servant Koukol (Terry Downes), who takes them to Von Krolock.
Count Von Krolock becomes quite hospitable when he learns of Professor Abronsius' research and writings on bats. They are invited to stay the night, and Alfred is introduced to the Count's homosexual son Herbert (Iain Quarrier). The next morning Abronsius and Alfred attempt to break into the castle crypt without success. Alfred finds Sarah having a bath, oblivous to the danger of the bloodsuckers. Meanwhile, Shagal (Alfie Bass) becomes a Jewish vampire and confronts a woman who thrusts a crucifix to his face. He laughs and says, "Oy, have you got the wrong vampire!"
Alfred and Abronsius are chased through the castle by Herbert and are locked in a small room. They notice the living dead rise from their graves in the small cemetery below. The Count visits and smugly informs them of their future as vampires before leaving for a dance, where Sarah will be presented as the next vampire.
At the dance Count Von Krolock tells his followers: "A year ago exactly on this same night we were assembled here in this very room: I your pastor, and you my beloved flock. With hopefulness in my heart I told you then that with Lucifer's aid we might look forward to a more succulent occasion. Cast back your minds. There we were, gathered together, gloomy and despondent, around a single meager woodcutter."
The hunters manage to escape, attend the dance in disguise, and rescue Sarah. They flee in a horse-drawn carriage, but as the film ends Alfred is bitten by Sarah. The last lines are a voice-over narration by Von Krolock: "That night, fleeing from Transylvania, Professor Abronsius never guessed he was carrying away with him the very evil he had wished to destroy. Thanks to him, this evil would at last be able to spread across the world."
FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS is a hilarious horror comedy directed and co-written by Roman Polanski. It is almost perfect. There is only one thing I would change about this brilliant film. Wolves are portrayed at the beginning and end of the film, and also in one scene in the middle, as hunters, killers, and eaters of humans. This is complete nonsense, something wolves never do, and the defamation contributes to their extinction.
The Old World winter scenery is incomparable. No Christmas movie comes close to capturing winter's charm as this deliberately campy spoof. Interior scenes are very atmospheric. The music is haunting and choir-like. In some versions of the film the music is more prominent. Also, the movie's length varies: 98, 107, 111, or 124 minutes.
The cast also includes: Jessie Robins (Rebecca Shagal), Fiona Lewis (Magda), Ronald Lacey (village idiot), Sydney Bromley, Andreas Malandrinos, Otto Diamant, Mathew Walters, and many others. Gerard Brach and Roman Polanski wrote the screenplay. Original music is by Krzysztof Komeda who also scored ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968). Roman Polanski directed.
The original title was "Dance of the Vampires", which is still used in Europe. The Americans changed it to the ungainly THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS OR: PARDON ME, BUT YOUR TEETH ARE IN MY NECK. American executive producer Martin Ransohoff also removed 16 minutes of footage, redubbed some voices, and tacked on an opening animated credit sequence. Polanski was so appalled by the severe re-editing against his wishes that he disowned it completely.