Director: Joseph Larraz

Starring: Marianne Morris, Anulka Dziubinska, Murray Brown

A couple of sexy female vampires that lure victims into their “abandoned” mansion.

The DVD format and easy access to American retailers via the Internet have combined to liberate many films like Vampyres that were once the preserve of the bootleg market, or the staple fare of festival screenings. Vampyres was released on video here in the 80s, but in a version trimmed by the BBFC of about three minutes.

The 1974 film was shot in Britain by Spanish director Joseph Larraz, and plays like an extended episode of the Hammer House of Horror TV series, (albeit one with far more gratuitous nudity than the average Confessions of… film!) Given the kinky subject matter it’s hardly surprising that the film has attracted a loyal cult following. The film has numerous shortcomings, many of which stem from its limited budget (about £43,000), but it’s easy to see what compels its acolytes, and hard not to fall under its heady, hedonistic spell.

Anchor Bay has made a valiant effort to optimise the presentation, including a fresh widescreen (1.85:1) transfer enhanced for 16:9 TVs, but the disc, which runs for 87’08” and purports to be “uncut and uncensored with all its notorious sex and violence fully restored”, is missing about thirty seconds of material present in some versions, including the NTSC Magnum video release, (which also proclaimed itself to be the “original uncut version”, but is also missing some footage). Warning: spoiler ahead! Five cuts have been made to the climactic scenes where Fran and Miriam attack John and Harriet, severely dampening the brutality and cruelty of the onslaught.

Anchor Bay’s disc comes with a worthwhile and often very funny commentary track by producer Brian Smedley-Aston and self-confessed “dirty old man” Larraz, a pair of trailers (“cloaked in beauty, they use their bodies as bait!”) and a gallery of twenty or so familiar photo’s. The picture is a little soft and grainy, and a little pale in parts, but this could almost certainly be traced all the way back to the original negative. Apart from a few marks here and there the print is in very good condition. Although suffering from obvious signs of post-production dubbing (practically inevitable, since the film was shot almost entirely on location), the mono sound presentation is robust, and has surprisingly good dynamic range.


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