Re-Booty Call… Victor Matellano’s VAMPYRES Remake Reviewed

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DVD. Region 2. Soda Pictures. 18.

Victor Matellano makes no bones about his passion for the Spanish horror film tradition, having previously directed a documentary short about Jesus Franco and a feature length examination (Zarpazos! Un Viaje Por El Spanish Horror, 2013) of the whole Iberian genre shooting match, showcasing the likes of Franco, Jorge Grau, Carlos Aguilar, Eugenio Martin, Jose Larraz and Paul Naschy. He went so far as to incorporate archive recordings of Naschy’s voice into Wax, his 2014 variant on the much reworked Charles Belden chestnut, also finding room in its cast for such tapas terror stalwarts as Jack Taylor, Antonio Mayans and Lone Fleming… Mayans and Fleming return (joining Franco and Naschy alumnus, our very own Caroline Munro… though her role here is little more than a throwaway) for Matellano’s 2015 reboot (i.e. it’s hovering somewhere between remake and sequel) of Larraz’s Vampyres, a project which JL endorsed before passing away, as is clear from some of the supplementary material on this disc.

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In the roles made (in)famous by Marianne Morris and Anulka Dziubinska, Marta Flich and Almudena Leon are the eponymous sapphic sirens, luring unsuspecting dudes into threesomes where they end up donating more bodily fluids than the ones they were hoping to. Christian Stamm is the main victim but it is suggested, as it was in the 1974 original, that this character is some kind of supernaturally enhanced Van Helsing figure, doomed to pursue the toothsome twosome through successive incarnations…

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Poor Rupert…

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Rupert’s fate rebooted in 2015.

… this incarnation sticks pretty to close the original, down to the frequent recitation of its dialogue, verbatim and the recreation of specific scenes and shots (e.g. the ghoul girls running around in the woods, their capes flapping behind them), but starts to falter somewhat when Matelanno seems to lose his nerve about selling reheated early ’70s fare and introduces ill-advised elements of stalk’n’slash (the stalkees are ill-defined creative types camping out, for some reason, in the grounds of the girls’ gothic shag pad) and the dreaded “torture porn”, signalled by an unsubtle pinch from Eli Roth’s Hostel 2.

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The orginal Vampyres was at some level a love story (albeit an extremely kinky one) and a story of addiction (what’s the diff?) in which Larraz skilfully conveyed the compulsive nature of the title characters’ behaviour… though lethal, they remained attractive and ultimately pitiable. The current crop, when inflicting (unconvincing) tortures on their captives, just become petty, spiteful and bathetic.

Matellano has a good eye (by dint of which he generally manages to obscure this film’s budgetary shortcomings and mediocre locations, relative to the original) and his heart is obviously in the right place. His revisitation of Vampyres will do OK on the basis of its Barthorean levels of boobs and blood, but I’d like to see how this director gets on with some original material and a decent screenplay collaborator. His next effort, A Stop Over In Hell has been completed and its cast includes Italian action director in excelsis and occasional thespian, Enzo G. Castellari. Obscure credits buffs excited by that casting coup are exactly the kind of obsessives who’ll spot May Heatherly (from Cannibal Apocalypse and Pieces) in Vampyres 2015. Sad to report that she died shortly after it was made.

Bonus materials here include teasers / trailers, a mini-interview with Caroline Munro and a short “making of” featurette, narrated by Jack Taylor and apparently dating from a time when the film was entitled Universe Of Vampyres.

… and yes, Larraz’s original did play The Scala on more than one occasion so this timely Soda release gels nicely with our current Scalarama theme.

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