FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, THE (Pardon Me, but Your Teeth Are in My Neck) (Dance of the Vampires)

(director: Roman Polanski; screenwriter: Gerard Brach; cinematographer: Douglas Slocombe; editor: Alastair McIntyre; music: Christopher Komeda; cast: Jack MacGowran (Professor Abronsius), Roman Polanski (Alfred), Ferdy Mayne (Count von Krolock), Terry Downes (Koukol), Iain Quarrier (Herbert von Krolock), Alfie Bass (Chagal), Fiona Lewis (Magda), Sharon Tate (Sarah Chagal); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Gene Gutowski; Warner Home Video; 1967-UK)

“Has its few garlicky moments of delight.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Roman Polanski’s (“Repulsion”/”Rosemary’s Baby”) homage to Hammer and the B film vampire genre with this silly spoof, a slow moving and awkward production that often misses the mark but has its few garlicky moments of delight. It’s written by Polanski and Gerard Brach, who make this oddity mostly ineffective except for those few inspired moments. The humor stretched to the credits, where a credit was given to “Fangs by Dr. Ludwig von Krankheit.” When the film was released the studio badly chopped it up (reducing its 148 minute length to 91 minutes) and re-dubbed it losing most of the personal and Eastern European humor, causing Polanski to disown it.

A bumbling duo of vampire hunters, bat expert and the vampire obsessed Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) and his awkward assistant Alfred (Roman Polanski), survive their harsh journey through the Alps into snowy Slovenia to continue the discredited professor’s research into the undead. After being thawed out by Alfred and the local innkeeper, Shagal (Alfie Bass), Abronsius notices those familiar signs from movie lore that there are vampires around, such as the inn’s many raw garlic decorations. After Alfred shows his love for the innkeeper’s pretty daughter Sarah (Sharon Tate) she’s taken by a vampire. The comical duo then head to the castle of the urbane but evil Count Von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne) and his son Herbert (Iain Quarrier) to search for Sarah and slay some vampires.

Some of the things the film got right include: a Jewish monster who gleefully replies “You got the wrong vampire girl!” when threatened with a crucifix, the scene at the vampire ball that has the guests rise from their graves to dance a minuet in front of a mirror reflecting the three humans present, and many delightful Baroque set pieces around the castle. The trouble is the timing was off, as it took too long to set up its mostly sophomoric slapstick gags and though it plays just as good as most Hammer films it’s not up to Polanski’s standards.

REVIEWED ON 10/15/2005 GRADE: C+   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/