Slaughter of the Vampires (La strage dei vampiri) is a fairly routine 1962 Italian vampire tale but it’s not entirely lacking in interest.
The plot is based pretty heavily on Stoker’s Dracula.
The movie hits the ground running with a pack of enraged villagers pursuing a pair of vampires. The male vampire escapes but his female companion is caught and butchered with pitchforks.
The scene then switches to a palatial house where a ball is in progress. A mysterious stranger appears at the ball and dances with the lady of the house, the beautiful young Louise (Graziella Granata). This mysterious stranger is none other than the male vampire (played by Dieter Eppler). Louise’s husband Wolfgang (Walter Brandi) is not overly concerned, but he should be. The vampire (whose name we are never told) has a hypnotic telepathic power and he calls Louise to him. In an erotically charged scene he bites her.
Louise goes into a slow decline. The doctor is baffled and suggests that Wolfgang consult the famous Dr Nietzsche (!) in Vienna. Dr Nietzsche has no doubts that this is a clear-cut case of vampirism.
Wolfgang and Dr Nietzsche hurry back but they are too late. Louise is dead. She is dead, but she had disappeared. Wolfgang finds Louise and persuades himself she is alive, and gets bitten for his trouble.
And the vampire is looking for fresh victims. He is now exercising his powers to seduce one of the servants, Corinne (who also happens to be young and beautiful).
Dr Nietzsche is determined to save Wolfgang and performs a series of blood transfusions. As in Stoker’s original novel the vampires in this movie kill their victims slowly over a period of time, and the blood transfusion idea is also lifted directly from Stoker.
Gothic horror films are usually not especially scary, relying more on either atmosphere or sex. In the case of Slaughter of the Vampires it’s mainly sex. The vampiric attacks are sexually-charged seduction scenes and the victims take an orgasmic delight in being bitten. This being 1962 the sexuality is not explicit but it’s implied very strongly indeed.
Writer-director Roberto Mauri does a competent job. Mauri had a typical career for Italian low-budget film-makers making peplums, spaghetti westerns and other assorted exploitation features.
The acting is adequate with Dieter Eppler making a nicely smooth and seductive yet creepy vampire.
This movie is closer in feel to Hammer’s gothic horror offerings than to to the usual run of eurohorror films. It lacks the visual extravagance of a Mario Bava movie but it’s solid entertainment for gothic horror fans. There are lots of heaving bosoms and there are some effective moments, the opening sequence being particularly impressive.
Dark Sky’s DVD release boasts quite a nice widescreen transfer and includes an interview with Dieter Eppler who plays the vampire. He never did get paid for this movie but he had a good time.