Thursday, March 18, 2010

VAMPYRES (Blu-Ray)

A remarkably bloody and sexually explicit entry in the lesbian/bisexual vampire sub-genre, director José Ramón Larraz' arty exploitation gem, VAMPYRES (1974), has just received the high-definition treatment from Blue Underground, and will be hitting shelves on March 30th.

Two gorgeous women are shot and killed in an old gothic mansion somewhere in the English countryside while making passionate lesbian love. Some time later, the two beauties, Fran (Marianne Morris) and Miriam (Anulka), have become vampires, who sleep in a nearby graveyard by day, and lure unsuspecting victims of both sexes to their home by pretending to be hitchhikers at night. There, they wine, dine and seduce their prey before dining on them. One night, they bring home a young man named Ted (Murray Brown), but, rather than kill him, they mysteriously let him live - though they do keep him captive so as to drain off his lifeblood slowly....

Stylishly directed by Spanish director Larraz, VAMPYRES is something of an erotic horror masterpiece. The story occasionally seems to lose its way a bit, but the no-holds-barred bloodletting and highly charged sex scenes more than make up for any narrative awkwardness. Both Morris and Anulka are stunningly beautiful, and throw themselves into their roles with astounding ferocity, spending a great deal of the running time (it seems) naked and drenched in blood. It's not for the squeamish nor prudish, but it does deliver sex, scares and skin in satisfying quantities. It may very well be the ultimate lesbian vampire film.

VAMPYRES has had a long and complicated theatrical and video history, with different edits playing in different countries and many VHS releases missing varying amounts of footage, including the ending! The uncut version was finally released on DVD by Anchor Bay a decade ago, and then re-released by Blue Underground. Now, BU has remastered the title for hi-def, with a noticeably improved 1080p, 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that shows no evidence of digital artifacts or edge-enhancement and preserves the natural soft grain of the original film stock. Details are much sharper, and the contrasts are perfect. Audio options include a DTS-HD 7.1 mix and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, as well as Dolby mono, for the purists.

Bonus features have been ported over from the Blue Underground DVD, and include an enthusiastic, and often uproariously profane, audio commentary by Larraz and Brian Smedly-Aston, a 13-minute featurette called THE RETURN OF THE VAMPYRES, which features entertaining interviews with the still-stunning Miss Morris and Anulka, the UK theatrical trailer, and the US version.

If you're tired of and/or disgusted by what passes for vampire cinema these days, and want to sink your metaphorical fangs into a true, Seventies horror classic, pick this up. And if you're a fan of the movie already, and debating whether or not to upgrade to 1080p, the Blu-Ray edition is definitely an improvement in all departments.

Recommended.

BUY: Vampyres [Blu-ray]