Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kiss of the Vampire (1962)

The Kiss of the Vampire also known as Kiss of Evil, is a 1963 British vampire film made by the film studio Hammer Film Productions. The film was directed by Don Sharp and was written by producer Anthony Hinds credited under his writing pseudonym John Elder. Gerald (Edward de Souza) and Marianne Harcourt (Jennifer Daniel), are a honeymooning couple in early 20th-century Bavaria who become caught up in a vampire cult led by Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman) and his two children Carl (Barry Warren) and Sabena (Jacquie Wallis). The cult abducts Marianne, and contrive to make it appear that Harcourt was traveling alone and that his wife never existed. Harcourt gets help from hard-drinking savant Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans), who lost his daughter to the cult and who finally destroys the vampires through an arcane ritual that releases a swarm of bats from hell.

Originally intended to be the third movie in Hammer's Dracula series (which began with Dracula and was followed by The Brides of Dracula); it was another attempt by Hammer to make a Dracula sequel without Christopher Lee. The final script, by Anthony Hinds makes no reference to Dracula, and expands further on the directions taken in Brides by portraying vampirism as a social disease afflicting those who choose a decadent lifestyle. The film went into production on 7 September 1962 at Bray Studios. This is the only credited feature film screen role of Jacquie Wallis who plays Sabena. The film's climax, involving black magic and swarms of bats, was originally intended to be the ending of The Brides of Dracula, but the star of that film Peter Cushing objected that Van Helsing would never resort to black sorcery. In fact, the paperback novelization of Brides does use this ending.

Alternate version Retitled Kiss of Evil for American TV, Universal trimmed the original film for its initial television screening so much that more footage had to be shot to pad out the missing time. Additional characters - that didn't appear at all in the original release - were added, creating a whole new subplot. Every scene that showed blood was edited out, e.g. the cinema release's pre-credits scene in which blood gushes from the coffin of Zimmer's daughter after he plunges a shovel into it. Also, in the televised version we never do find out what Marianne sees behind the curtain, a sight which makes her scream. A couple of the cuts result in scenes that don't make sense any more: while the theatrical release had Harcourt, when he frees his hands after being clawed by Tanya, smearing the blood on his chest into a cross-shaped pattern, keeping the vampires away as he escapes, the televised version omits the blood-smearing, leaving the vampires' inaction unexplained. The abbreviated running time was made up for by the addition of scenes of a family who argue about the influence of the vampiric Ravna clan, but never interact with anybody else in the movie. The teenage daughter throws over her boyfriend in favor of Carl Ravna (unseen in these scenes) who has given her a music box which plays the same hypnotic tune that he plays on the piano elsewhere in the movie. The middle-aged parents are played by Carl Esmond and Virginia Gregg (who gained fame by voicing Mother in three of the Psycho films), while their teenage daughter is played by Sheila Welles.

DON SHARP   (1963)
88 MIN

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