Directed by Roman Polanski [Other horror films: Repulsion (1965), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Ninth Gate (1999)]
Roman Polanski is a director that I have very limited experience with. Perhaps his most well-known film, Rosemary’s Baby, is a movie I’ve not yet seen, and honestly don’t have that strong an urge to do so. Of the few films of him I have seen, the only one I actually liked was The Ninth Gate, and after watching this film, that hasn’t changed.
I can’t say what went wrong here with strong certainty. Dance of the Vampires (or to American audiences, The Fearless Vampire Killers) is a film that had potential, but I couldn’t get into it at all. I didn’t care for the style of the movie, I didn’t care for the characters, and I definitely didn’t care for the fact it ran for an hour and 48 minutes.
To be honest, this movie was a struggle to sit through. I was consistently frustrated with character decisions (especially those from Alfred, portrayed by director Roman Polanski), and I became actively annoyed the longer the film went on. It reminded me of two movies, both of which are well-respected, being Eraserhead and Multiple Maniacs. Both have quite high ratings, yet despite that, I utterly hated the both of them. Dance of the Vampires isn’t nearly as experimental as either of those two, but in much the same way, this seems to be a well-respected film, and I just couldn’t stand it.
Of all the performances, the only one I cared much for was Ferdy Mayne (who I know best from Frightmare). Mayne had that classy vampire appearance, and I could get behind it. Sharon Tate (Eye of the Devil) played a character I felt was pointless, Roman Polanski played the most aggravating character I could imagine, and while Jack MacGowran had a few okay moments, his absent-mindedness got old quickly.
There were some solid sequences. When MacGowran and Polanski are using the roofs of the castle to get around, with the mountain scenery in the background, that looked quite nice. The titular dance of the vampires was an okay sequence, and provided some of the only humor I really found amusing, being some characters trying to hold a conversation while dancing. It wasn’t laugh out loud funny – that’s not the type of humor this movie has – but it was mildly amusing.
Otherwise, Dance of the Vampires drags from beginning to end. It’s an hour and 48 minutes, so that’s a lot of dragging. If the type of humor this film possesses appeals to you, then you may be in for a good time, but like I said, I didn’t care for this humor, and so it was just painful throughout.
No doubt this is a classic comedy-horror mix. I hated it, though, and that’s all she wrote (the ‘she’ being me, in this case).
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