In 1974, a small film about a couple of lesbian vampires was released to relatively little fanfare until news of its heavily censored state hit the UK. A small buzz was formed but nothing that would be worth writing your grandma about. Years later, the film – Vampyres – would develop a strong cult following. Directed by Jose Ramon Larraz, and principally shot at Oakley Court, home of many a late era Hammer Film exterior, the film is known for its sexuality more than its horrors.
Fast forward to 2015, when director Victor Mattelano decides to take a crack at a re-make. Right off the bat, differences in the presentation glare like a sequined dress blowing in a desert breeze.
First a quick, and I mean quick, synopsis. Two vampire lovers seduce people back to their mansion by pretending to hitchhike. They stab the victims, drink their blood, and tra-la-la. Things change when one of the woman falls for a man she brings home, keeps him around longer than the customary one night, until he decides to try and escape with the help of another couple. People die, vampires run away, and many breasts are revealed in the process.
The cinematography in the original is not too shabby, and with the remastered film, the colors (mostly flesh, oranges, and browns) really pop. The use of shadow is sometimes used very well, but not enough pains were taken to actually set a mood. The re-make loses all of this. The palette is flat, almost completely devoid of shadows. Most of the night shots from the first film are replaced with poorly filtered dusk shots. The amazingly beautiful and gothic old house is replaced by – a house; just a house.
Marianne Morris, who played Fran in the original, was probably the highlight of that movie for me. She is soft spoken and monotone, but has eyes and subtle facial expressions that make her sultry, with a tad of mystery. Marta Flich doesn’t pull this off nearly as well, and though she is also monotone, comes off as a drab mess.
While the first film focuses in on its strengths, namely the set pieces and sex, the 2015 version seems to actually try for the scares, and this may have been its biggest mistake. Bloody women approaching menacingly done a hall just don’t matter when we just watched two minutes of fucking. There just isn’t a good way to get a scare like that, and the film loses a lot of credibility in the attempt.
The remake also makes an attempt to up the level of plot, without actually changing it much. More plot details are added in slow moving scenes of a woman reading a journal. This is where the movie loses all sense of identity. It tries to have a sensible plot, a few jump scares, and all the sex the original had – and falls flat on all accounts.