Fangs of the Living Dead

Remember that five-movie vampire set that I bought? Yeah, it’s starting to pay off because the last movie I watched, Fangs of the Living Dead (1969) aKa Malenka as it was called in its native country, Spain, was actually fun. It even left me asking some interesting questions after the movie. Sure, there was some sixties goofiness and it lacked real scares but it did have some sessy vampiresses. And it starred Anita Ekberg, which is never a bad thing.
I’ll admit, I was apprehensive about this movie. The description on the case said that it’s a, “…sexual physiological thriller…” I guess they meant psychological? Because what would a physiological thriller be? “Oh look, this pancreas doesn’t work.” Also, it opened with a shot on a portrait of the aforementioned vampiress, Malenka, for about five minutes while folk music with unintelligible lyrics played. I’m pretty sure it was the same band that played in It Lives By Night. I was prepared for some deep hurting.
The plot actually starts with Sylvia (Ekberg) getting a letter from her maternal uncle informing her that she’s a countess and that she should come to her ancestral castle. She leaves her fiance, Piero, and his bff, comic-relief Max, with the the promise that she’ll be back in time for their wedding. The movie quickly gets down to business and I soon realized why the movie was made.

It’s all about the attractive women drinking the beer of the living dead, right?
Sylvia reaches the castle, which is actually quite atmospheric and pretty. Still, I wouldn’t want to live in a castle. I imagine they’re quite drafty and damp and the wi-fi sucks. Ghosts, though. Ghosts could make it worth it. Anyyyway…Uncle Vampirula’s creepy purple manservant proceeds to inform Sylvia that it will be awhile before she sees her uncle as he’s never down before ten. Then he indulges in the creepiest scene from the movie.

I’ve seen some horrible things in movie but this scene made my uterus skitter away like a scared puppy.
Sylvia meets Uncle Dracupire, exclaiming “What a handsome uncle I have!” K, then…I guess he’s ok, if you can deal with the fact that he looks like some kind of Alan Rickman/Jeremy Irons blend.

Uncle Hans is here and he wants his detonators.
This is when you learn a bit about Sylvia’s lineage. Apparently, her great-grandmother was a biochemist studying the secrets of immortality when she was burned as a witch by the fearful villagers. Also, grandma Malenka is really Anita Ekberg in a black wig.
When Sylvia goes to bed, she’s visited by the Spirit of Cher.

That is Blinka and seems to just sort of wander around the castle in a lacy Elvira getup. And now I’ve figured out why the movie was made, for reals this time.

This is when I decided I like this movie. What can I say? I’m kind of easy to please.
Uncle Hans walks in, demands more detonators and throws Blinka out and then proceeds to whip her.

And now I can’t get the image of Alan Rickman/Jeremy Irons at an S&M club out of my head. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not.
Anybrainsickness, after receiving a letter from Sylvia breaking of their engagement, Piero and Max decide to go all Johnathon Harker and even enlist the drunk town doctor as a kind of Van Helsing. This is still better than the Keanu and Winona version.
Max becomes my favorite character when he insists that someone opening an umbrella outside his window is a bat.

Max and Hank, my two current favorite movie characters. I need to start seeing better movies. *Sigh*
The movie finally ends with Piero being knocked unconscious with a karate-chop to the shoulder. Yes, the shoulder.
But it’s ok, because the Uncle Hans is knocked down with one punch. What happened to that immortal super-strength? I…don’t know. Then Piero stakes him through the heart and Uncle Hans’s head turns into a middle school art project.

Raaawr! I’m a skull!!
It ends on a very confusing note which I don’t really want to give away and I don’t think I could explain it, anyway.
I do have to give this movie some credit for coming from Amando de Ossorio. Yes, this bit of fluff was made by the same mind that created Tombs of the Blind Dead. I know I’m going to lose all of my nonexistent street cred by admitting that I haven’t seen that series. It’s a tetralogy. Nice word, yes? They’ve been recently rereleased so I really should get to seeing it.
I have to say, this movie does show some potential. I saw the version that was released in America, so of course it’s dubbed horribly. At some points, it sounds like Max and Piero are the same person. But the shots are lush and richly colored. The costumes are outrageous and hilarious but I really like them. And the music sounds like Dr. Phibes is playing the organ somewhere. All this adds up to me liking this movie. Mostly. It is PG so there is very little gore or sex. But it’s still fun. And Max!
Ultimately, it does leave you with some questions like are the people in the village really vampires or are they playing some kinky sex game with Uncle Hans? At one point in the movie, Blinka shouts “It’s fake, it’s all fake!” But then what of the staking of Uncle Hans? In a kind of horrible effect, his face ages and turns into the papier mache skull picture that I posted. I’m pretty sure that’s not normal.
In your face, DVD set! I’m winning, I’m liking your movies!

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About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 1960's, anthology, foreign, vampires and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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