The Fearless Vampire Killers
or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth are in My Neck


Year 1967

Jack MacGowran   as Professor Abronsius  
Roman Polanski as   Alfred
Alfie Bass as Shagal
Sharon Tate as   Sarah Shagal
Ferdy Mayne   as   Count von Krolock  
Terry Downes   as   Koukol
 
Director - Roman Polanski  
Screenwriters - Roman Polanski
  - Gérard Brach

The Fearless Vampire Killers, full title The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth are in My Neck is also known as Dance of the Vampires. Regardless of what it's called, it's a charming little comedy full of atmosphere and style.

How can a movie about vampires be "charming"? Well, all of the characters, even the bad ones, are likable and entertaining.

The plot? Professor Abronsius (MacGowran), forced to leave his university after being ridiculed for his belief in vampires, accompanied by his assistant Alfred (Polanski), find a village that could be the fief of a vampire. They stay at an inn run by a sexually frustrated innkeeper named Shagal (Bass). There, no sooner does Alfred fall in love with Shagal's daughter Sarah (Tate) than she's abducted by the vampire Count von Krolock (Mayne). It's up to Alfred to rescue Sarah and Abronsius to kill von Krolock.

The pace is slow and the humor dry, but it stays amusing throughout thanks to numerous little touches. In one scene, Abronsius and Alfred enter a room. Koukol (Downes), the club footed non-vampire minion of von Krolock, is also in the room. As Abronsius and Alfred scrape away at the floor looking for a way out of the room, Koukol is shown behind them windmilling his huge club foot in preparation to booting Abronsius in the derrière. Little touches like that.

Then there's the scenery which shows a castle and inn steeped in coldest part of winter. Skies are grey and deep snow is everywhere. It adds to the sense of isolation of the heroes. Both the inn and the castle are not sets; they're actual buildings.

The score is also great. It's a soprano choir with some music but the music sounds as if it's on a cassette tape that has been left in the sun too long. The sounds are distorted and the result is almost hypnotic.

Did I mention the quirky characters? Jack MacGowran steals most of his scenes thanks to Polanski's writing. MacGowran is a slight old man, with a cookie duster mustache that should be listed among the cast members. One scene has MacGorwran putting on his pants by getting onto a table and jumping into them. So much for the expression, "He puts on his pants one leg at a time, just like everyone else." Professor Abronsius isn't like everyone else.

There's Sarah Shagal who loves to take baths. Her father, who is simply Shagal, whines with a Yiddish accent, even after he's become a vampire. When someone tries to protect themselves with a crucifix, the Jewish Shagal says, "Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire."

There's garlic in abundance and people eat it for protection. In one scene, after Alfred secretly protects himself this way, a hungry Professor Abronsius smells the garlic and asks in a hurt voice, "Where did you find something to eat?"

It's not rapid fire repartee, but it's always moving and always a little odd. How many movies have a gay vampire in them? Count von Krolock's son is the gay vampire in this movie.

Polanski's use of speeded up action scenes is not out of place in this movie because the technique fits in with the movie's sense of the unpredictable.

The one downside to this movie is its pacing. It is slow. It's almost impossible to watch without falling asleep. I've seen this movie about a half-dozen times and I always fall asleep at some point. I'm wondering what about the movie causes this response. Maybe it's the fact that it's nearly always night, or it's the white blanket of snow that covers everything, or it's the music, or it's something subliminal in the movie. It's not that long of a movie, clocking in at 107 minutes, but it seems longer.

Despite that, I'll watch this movie again because it's so unique with it's eccentric characters and atmosphere.

Some blasphemy, no profanity, and no nudity. There're some shots of cleavage, but no naked breasts. It has limited chick flick potential, but it won't offend anyone.


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