The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) – Pardon Me, But your Teeth are in my Neck

Fearless vampire killers title card

Originally named, “Dance of the Vampires,” The Fearless Vampire Killers is a parody of the legend of vampires created by Bram Stoker in his book, “Dracula.” From the onset, viewers are enthralled to the luscious visuals, panoramic landscapes, and the blankets of snows covering the beautiful region—in what remains today as one of the finest showcases of cinematography and photography. Incidentally, The Fearless Vampire Killers happens to be the legendary Roman Polanski’s first color movie. The very interesting aspects of this Polanski visual extravaganza are indeed the staging, lighting, breathtaking sets, extensive shooting in the Alps, and of course—the fine arts exhibition portraying the mesmeric landscapes and beauty of the land projected as Transylvania. In the history of Cinema, Dance of the Vampires remains—despite its storytelling strains—a classic movie rich in visuals, arts, and cinematography.

The movie starts off with the eccentric Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGrowan) making his way to the homeland of the vampires after having spent, almost, all of his life researching and in search of vampires. Professor Abronsius’ assistant, the clumsy and buoyant, Alfred (Roman Polanski) accompanies the Professor in his quest. Arriving at Transylvania, they find people tightlipped on the subject of vampires. In the tavern they reside, Alfred finds himself attracted to the daughter of the owner of the tavern, the beautiful, classy Sarah Shagal (Sharon Tate), who—to the utter dismay of Alfred—becomes a victim of one unfathomable vampire, unknown until that point. With a series of mysterious mishaps preceding and succeeding this uninformed tragedy, the Professor and his assistant finally reach their destination, the Castle—dreaded, beautiful, and devastating—the home of a Boyar, Count von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne). In the castle, the two brave hearts fall in a riddle of comedy, horror, investigative parody, as Polanski poetically draws the accounts of Professor Abronsius and Alfred in the dictatorial Castle amidst Transylvania.

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The Fearless Vampire Killers came before fate showed its cruelty to the great Roman Polanski. This could be the reason why the movie is stunningly beautiful, comic, and warm—despite the gloomy topic—and Polanski humorous direction/storytelling as well as performance lights the eyes while watching this mystically art of a movie. As people are aware, Sharon Tate was the real life wife of Roman Polanski, before her assassination when she was just a month away from giving birth to Polanski Jnr. It would be certifiable to assert that Polanski’s transition from this type of artistically rich cinema to the graver ends of filmmaking had much to owe to the tragedy he went through two years after this movie became reality.

Considering the theme of the movie and the execution of the content, the phrase that comes to mind when watching this Polanski classic is “poetic justice. This vampire classic is poetic justice to the myths of vampires, and lights up many ironic questions—including: how would you stop of vampire who is not a Christian? The cross would not work, right? And, Bram Stoker hasn’t given us any other tool to counterattack a Non-Christian vampire! The character of Yoine Shagal (Alfie Bass), father of Sarah, has some brilliant moments with numerous witty scenes and dialogs. It is a treat watching the paranoid, sex-hungry, yet amusing freak obsessed with his helper at the tavern. In one of the most stunning sequences, the Professor and his apprentice skate through the landscapes of Transylvania and when doing so, viewers are subjected to a ride into Nature and the beauty of the Alps.

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The Fearless Vampire Killers is a heartfelt visual illustration caped with humorous scenes and dialogs, and encompasses a much-welcome U-turn from the popular vampire culture and myth. In terms of the atmosphere, story, and overall look and presentation, Dance of the Vampires is a contrast—a wonderful one! Not completely flawless, but what would movies, stories, or even life be without those drastic inconsistencies? For love, for entertainment, or if you wish to realize why vampires are beyond the Christian origin today, watch this joyful, enjoyable, warm, and stupendous parody about vampires in the asylum of vampires itself under the direction of a film legend, Roman Polanski.

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