Fearless Vampire Killers
Director: Shaky Gonzales

Director: Roman Polanski
Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Angel of the NightAngel of the Night (Natens engel, 1998) is a commonplace vampire flick. It disappointed me because I kinda expected a European flavor since it's a Danish film, but it was one hell of a lot like watching any random American b-turd.

One critic said he only made it through twenty minutes then gave up, which was no suprise to me.

I stuck it out to the bitter end, & whoever stopped sooner didn't miss much. It begins with a "Lady's Gothic" theme that seems rather 1960s drugstore paperback in origin, a young woman (Maria Karlsen, whose very character name "Rebecca" alludes to granddandy of Lady's Gothics) inherits a gothic mansion, though the rest of the film will be cribbed from sundry second-rate but still better-than-this American vampire flicks, including even shoot-outs with vampires.

In the mansion Rebecca discovers a diary or perhaps a grimoire, the reading of which is apparently involved in the resurrection of her vampiric grampa, who has a grim, incestuous plan to insure his further existence.

With magic dagger Rebecca has a chance at survival. Lady's Gothics traditionally end with the mansion being burned to the ground, but Angel of the Night ends more or less with a pun on its own title, it turning out that vampires aren't the night-angels alluded to, the finale being ridiculous but at least original.

Anyone who is just hard-core for any ol' thing with a vampire in it will find sufficient passing pleasure here, which is not the same as being actually any good.

Fearless Vampire Killers To go from the ridiculous to the sublime, Roman Polanski's vampire flick The Fearless Vampire Killers; aka, Dance of the Vampires (1969) may well be in the top-ten best vampire tales ever filmed.

Despite that it is largely comedy, it is also a chilling exciting adventure, elegantly photographed & moodily staged, with a splendid score & a level of acting rarely seen in horror cinema.

It's the style of the filming & the level of acting that make it, not the plot, which is a familiar one. A foolish-mustached vampire hunter (Jack MacGowran) & his naive apprentice (Polanski himself, channelling Buster Keaton) visit Transylvania to prove vampires are real.

Fearless Vampire KillersIt soon becomes essential to visit the castle of the Count von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne channelling Christopher Lee) to save the beautiful maiden Sarah (Sharon Tate, Polanski's ill-fated wife, & how unfortunate she's only remembered for her Manson family demise & not her real acting ability) from elegant evil vampires.

The comedy & absurdist heroism ranges from the Jewish vampire unaffected by the cross inducing Alfred to try to make a Star of David with his fingers; the swishy vampire; the famous Vampire's ball in honor of the partially transformed Sarah, with the distinct surprise of the ballroom mirror; the tobaggan-ride fleeing from the castle; & Sarah's final smile for the beloved Alfred...

Scene for scene it is totally goofy, & yet the characters seem legitimately at risk, so the suspense is almost as intense as the laughter. It comes off as a true grotesque, of laughter in the face of the devil.

Continue to next vampire film:
Blood Ties (1991)

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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