The Vampire Happening (1971)

A film so good it broke TVS! This was Nigel Honeybone’s offering for this week, not a film I expected great or even good things from, but it was another title I could scrub from the Drive-In Delirium list… and, well, the film got underway, made it safely to the mid-point break, Mr Honeybone made his comment about the community announcements coming up… but then they didn’t. Transmission broke down, and only the faint ghostly image of Nigel’s skull was visible on the screen… Perhaps needless to say, this break in transmission was the highlight of the film, from which I did not expect great things and accordingly was not exactly disappointed; and anyway, I think that hour or near enough I got to see was enough to get the gist. Which is this: an American sex film actress inherits a castle in Transylvania. Remarkably enough, she’s the spitting image of one of her ancestors, who also just so happened to be a vampire; after inadvertently being revived, the latter goes about her old business. The aforementioned remarkable family resemblance causes some confusion for both the other characters and the viewer, mainly cos Pia Degermark doesn’t exactly do much to distinguish them… A bit of a Europudding, a West German film made by an Italian producer (who’d also produced some Jess Franco films) with a Swedish star (his own wife) and an English director, Freddie Francis, who, as we’ve noted before, was not a horror enthusiast and seems to have accepted the assignment mainly cos another job fell through; arguably comedy wasn’t his forte either (though the English dubbing certainly doesn’t help), and something about the whole thing suggests it must’ve seemed dated even in 1971… though in fairness it’s probably not a bad-looking film; hard to tell cos TVS’ public domain print typically wasn’t the best, but I wouldn’t mind seeing this again in better quality. At any rate, Francis seems to have been one of the few people whose career escaped this film unscathed, with neither Ms Degermark nor her husband—nor, apparently, their marriage—going on to anything else afterwards… poor Pier Caminnecci, he survived three Jess Franco films but not his own idea to rip off The Fearless Vampire Killers

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