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England, 1795: the young Catherine has just married Charles Fengriffen and moves into his castle. She becomes the victim of an old curse that lays on the family. On her wedding night she is raped by a ghost and gets pregnant.
My mother found it difficult to tell me that I wasn't like other children; I could never share a life with whole human beings. I slowly learned that the thing that raped my mother and fathered me was no living feeling man, but a malignant force of cancer that refused to be destroyed. It wasn't only her blood my mother gave to keep me alive, her youth and her own life was sucked up into the syringe that fed me.
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At the end of the film, "Fin--ou peut etre pas," appears on the screen. It's French for "The End -- Or Maybe Not." See more »
The versions available in North America are all censored. Even the Japanese release is cut. Uncut version was released on tape in Germany and features extra gore in several of the murders, which are noticeably trimmed in the domestic versions. See more »
A Lot Of Great Ideas... Cramped Into Too Little Time...
Oh, wow! David Chase, the screenplay writer, had some marvellous ideas. I just wish it had been a trilogy and not a single film. The allotted hour and a half doesn't do the story any justice. It's this compression of the story that spoils the film the most.
A man mysteriously resurrects himself from his grave. He murders and rapes lovers on the night of their proposal. The woman survives the ordeal and believes the baby is her dead fiance's. She gives birth and rears the baby on her blood. When she passes, he vows to find his true father and seek revenge for all.
If that wasn't enough inventiveness, the Vampyre Daddy doesn't always fang his victims to death. Oh no. He too is creative. My favourite kills are the claw hammer and the headstone smash. This allows Hayes to give the audience some creepy as hell shots of the Vampyre feeding. They are some of the best feeding scenes I've ever seen.
This film has given me a new favourite scary moment. When Ol' Vampy attacked the lovers, I knew the film would be interesting. He breaks the man's back over a headstone. Leaving him straggled over the headstone, he drags the female into an open grave, for his carnal pleasure. Creepy as hell and just plain awesome.
However, a lot of footage is below par; this along with the misuse of the story, drop the film in the ratings. A story of this magnitude needed a greater time frame. Film One - The Anti-hero's birth: Film Two - His Upbringing: Film Three - His Revenge. Back in the 1970s, sequels such as this were unheard of. Even Hammer who did lots of Dracula films only did believable follow-ons. They never did a true continuation of a story.
Condensing the story into a short runtime hinders the story and the pace at which it flows. I thought Hayes handled the segue between baby Eastman and adult Eastman brilliantly. He shows a few dioramas within this transition. They shoot Eastman and his mother and nanny from behind in silhouette. They are always in the shadows while life in its many colours and shades occur before them. A brilliant idea executed nicely.
As for the acting, it too is hit and miss.
Michael Pataki comes across as a strong and self-assured Caleb Croft. However, occasionally his acting gets hammy. This may be down to the script. His crude acting coincides with awkwardly written supernatural scenes. It's most evident in the seance scene.
William Smith gives his strong but silent performance as James Eastman, our anti-hero. He comes across as shy and awkward. This is in Eastmans' character. He lived in seclusion for most of his life; now he's immersed in modern life. However, the awkwardness appears to have more to do with direction than acting ability. It's the end sequence where you experience it most. The sequence also suffers from Smith submerging his talents into the hammy waters of acting.
Everyone else gives one hundred percent to their roles. They enhance the film and help to keep it interesting and enjoyable.
If you're a horror fan who hasn't watched this oldie, I would suggest you find a copy. Though I wouldn't propose buying one, unless it's cheap, as it's not a film worth watching more than once. The same goes for all you Vampyre connoisseurs out there.
Story 1.5 : Direction 1 : Pace 0.5 : Acting 1.25 : Enjoyment 0.75 : Total 5 / 10
Flap your bat-wings and fly over to see where this film ranked on my Absolute Horror list.
Take Care and Stay Well.
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