Retro Review: Vampyres (1974)

I remember when the Lost Boys came out in 1986; there were all these video store with good scary movies like vampire reissues. Everyone was trying to cash in on vampire mania, just like today. One box that caught my attention was Vampyres with the small tag line in familiar font that read: They’re “lost Girls”. OK, I thought, what the hell, let’s check it out. I took the video home and settled in for some horror antics, not a film to watch with the family.
Vampyres is one of those 80s horror movies that starts off with a bang, in every sense of the word as two women are making love in the bedroom of a large mansion (again, yes, all women were bi-sexual on film, in the seventies).  Suddenly, an unknown assailant opens fire on them, killing them both.  See, a bang I tell you. This appears to be the origin of the vampire couple, who now haunt the castle and feed on the blood of many a male victim.
Actually, it is a story really about how five separate lives (and unlives) converge to a very unpleasant end. Besides our two living dead beauties, we have Ted (Murray Brown), a passing motorist who falls victim to our lesbian vampire couple and likes it so much, the guy just won’t leave, or die. Plus a young couple named John and Harriet (Brian Deacon and Sally Faulkner) who set up camp in the wooded area near the castle so they can relax. Harriet is a painter and a little on edge, John wants to fish and really doesn’t care about much else. Harriet spies our two cloaked beauties wandering the grounds at night, but John doesn’t really care, he thinks she is overreacting, that’s never good.
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Vampyres really has no equal in the Gothic horror arena. The nature of Fran (Marianne Morris) and Miriam (Anulka) is never explained, but it seems they are most likely ghost who need to feed on living blood to stay material. Also there is the sexuality, usually found in many 1970’s films as just sleaze to keep you interested (not that I mind). In this film it is a central theme, making the sex much more interesting and dangerous. And there is a lot of sex in this film, but it has meaning other than the sake of showing naked flesh, it’s what binds the girl’s relationship together and ultimately may be tearing them apart.

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Director Jose Larraz, who would go on to direct “Black Candles“, turns things on its ear in Vampyres. It all at once discards the Gothic traditions and enforces the aesthetics to create a vampire that truly is original in behavior. The characters may not be as fleshed out as one would like but he more than makes up for this with mounds of atmosphere and eeriness. Harry Waxman’s cinematography lurks through the Gothic landscape creating a feeling of uneasiness that is enhanced by composer James Clarke’s score. The primary location, the Gothic mansion, is in actuality Oakley Court, famous for several Hammer films and Rocky Horror Picture Show Facts as it is Dr. Frank N Furter’s castle in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
Vampyres may be the best lesbian vampire film ever made, and one of the best horror movies in the world, out doing Hammer’s entire Karnstein Trilogy of films with one blow. Many people feel that there are a lot of plot holes and inconsistencies but watch it again with a different and open mindset, I think you will be surprised. Not to say that it doesn’t have its flaws, but the plot is presented secondary to the visual nightmare. Like a (un)living painting that penetrates your primal senses. Thanks to the VHS box, I never watched the Lost Boys the same way again. Every time I reach for it, I put this film on instead.


Into 60’s hotrod cool, 70’s horror and 80’s punk. comics, video games.
Favorite Movies:Return of the Living Dead, Re-Animator, Evil Dead, Texas Chain-saw Massacre, Murder Mansion, etc.

Favorite Music:The Misfits (Danzig era), White/Rob Zombie, X, Marilyn Manson