The Kiss Of The Vampire (1963)

JANUARY 8, 2009


Yet another Hammer movie sans any of its big name stars. While Phantom of the Opera offered up Michael Gough, I must admit I’ve never heard of any of the folks in The Kiss Of The Vampire. Not that having big stars is essential for a movie (especially a horror movie), but one thing I liked about the other Hammer films I’ve seen is how they all seem to draw from the same talent pool, so when I see one with a bunch of random folks, I get a bit suspicious as to its merit. It’s like watching a Dimension release that doesn’t have Patrick Lussier or Joel Soisson somewhere in the credits.

One actress I DO wish to see more often is Jacquie Wallis. She’s sort of a villain, but doesn’t really do a hell of a lot other than look insanely beautiful whenever she’s onscreen. And since the main vampire guy (Noel Willman) is a bit dull, I really wish Hammer regular screenwriter Anthony Hinds' script had given her more to do. That said, he does get in one pretty great moment late in the film, when he has taken the hero’s wife and brainwashed her with his vampire prowess. The hero is obviously upset, and Willman mocks him, “ ‘If you hurt one hair on her head...’ is what you’re about to say, no?” (something along those lines). Hahaha, awesome.

Speaking of this scene, the wife proves that she doesn’t want to go back to the husband by spitting on him as a way of proving she’d rather just chill with the vampires. This is a rather odd way to do it, if you ask me. Wouldn’t a simple “Leave me alone!” or something be fine? Dude’s not having a good day: he’s being attacked by vampires and now he’s lost his wife. You need to embarrass him on top of it?

Also, as this is technically a breakdown movie (he has a “motor car”!), I had to wonder – why do people never seem to break down near the homes of non-vampires or cannibals? Just once I would like to see a horror movie where someone breaks down, and the nearest home is run by a kind and generous mechanic. Then they go along their merry way and are murdered by killer owls.

The movie does have a couple strong points. One is the Van Helsing-y guy who is after the vampire. He’s not particularly original or interesting, but he looks like Ian Holm dressed up as Coffin Joe, which is pretty awesome. Also he totally ruins a funeral by driving a stake through a casket, which proves the corpse is actually a vampire. I also dug the idea that the vampires were sort of a cult – there’s a whole bunch of folks following Willman around, but if they are actually vampires, they don’t really do any vamp stuff.

The ending is also pretty awesome. Bats are actually the hero for once – a bunch of them swarm (via laughably visible strings) the castle where Willman and his cult are, and wipe everyone out. It looks faker than anything I can recall from the era, but it’s still a sweet idea. Beats the eight millionth “everyone gets distracted with their fighting and forgets about the now rising sun” finale.

Oh well. Good to know even Hammer could make entertaining but ultimately rather forgettable horror movies.

What say you?


  1. I recently got the Hammer DVD set with 8 movies and "Kiss of the Vampire" was on there as well. I've only watched one so far: "Brides of Dracula" (watched it yesterday) and it was pretty good.

  2. This film occupies a weird place in the Hammer canon. It seems to be the one to like if you don't like Hammer: something about the plot point where the bride goes missing makes people think the film is "Hitchcockian" or something.

    The bats-ending was conceived for BRIDES OF DRACULA but abandoned because the effects people couldn't pull it off. Don't know why they thought it would turn out any better a couple years later in this film. I can forgive the bad effects (this is a low-budget movie with 1960s' technology), but couldn't the cinematographer have lit the scene with more shadows to hide the wires? Couldn't the director have used some shaky handheld shots to blur the fake rubber bats? Couldn't the editor have cut things together faster so you couldn't get a look at how bad the effects were?


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