Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Playgirls and the Vampire (1962)

A bus carrying a bevy of beautiful showgirls finds encounters an impassable road. Whatever will they do? Where will they spend the night? Luckily there’s a mysterious-looking ancient gothic castle nearby. That’s bound to be a safe place to pass the night. OK, there’s an old gardener who warns them not to stay, and there’s an evil-looking housekeeper, and the owner of the castle is a moody and enigmatic nobleman who shuns human contact, but still, what could go wrong? He’s not likely to be a vampire or anything.

OK, so the plot of The Playgirls and the Vampire sounds like the plot of a dozen other eurohorror flicks, but this one was made in 1960 (although not released until a couple of years later) and in 1960 this wasn’t quite so much of a horror movie cliché. Not quite. And in any case this is not a movie that takes itself at all seriously. It’s one of those movies that is more fun because the plot is so familiar. Knowing exactly what’s going to happen is all part of the fun.

This movie, written and directed by Piero Regnoli, was an attempt to combine sex and horror. Of course, being 1960, the sex is pretty much limited to the aforementioned showgirls running around the castle in see-through nighties. There’s also a strip-tease routine in which one of the young ladies takes off...well in fact she takes off very little. It was undoubtedly hot stuff in 1960, and seen today the attempts to be sexy are actually rather charming and amusing. It’s also a reminder of an era when it was understood that the tease was often a good deal more erotic than the reveal.

As for the horror, well really there isn’t a lot of that. Although there is certainly a vampire. The acting is what you’d expect. The gothic castle is nicely gothic though, and there’s even a mad scientist’s laboratory. Any movie with a mad scientist’s laboratory is worth seeing in my opinion. It’s all good-natured tongue-in-cheek fun, and if you have a plentiful supply of popcorn on hand and you enjoy campy horror then you’ll be well satisfied.

The Region 1 DVD looks acceptable considering the age of the movie.

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