So we all know by now that I love the Hammer Horror films. Last night I saw Kiss of the Vampire, a movie that was going to be another attempt to produce a sequel without actually having Dracula in it (just like The Brides of Dracula). Due to the lack of the mention of Dracula anywhere within the film, they decided to merely release it as a vampire film. I am glad they did.
I have two big problems with this film, despite the illustrious Hammer title being on it. I did sit through the film but I just could not muster the child like wonderment that I can at the other Hammer movies. This could be because of the lack of strong characters that Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, and so many others provided to Hammer over the years. You do not have these types of larger than life characters. The vampire expert/hunter was not even that cool. He killed one vampire in the beginning (unimpressively) and then that was about the only hands on experience we saw with him actually doing anything, except for later in the film where he smears garlic on a door. I’ll give my much larger reason for not liking the vampire hunter later.
Now let us move onto the vampires. For one they are not that threatening, I mean yeah they want your wife to join their kooky vampire cult but that is it. They didn’t try to kill the husband instead they tried to convince him he was crazy. After getting him super hammered at a party, they let him sleep it off and then hide his hypnotized wife in another part of the castle. Then upon his awaking they tell him he came there alone. The innkeeper tells him that he arrived alone and no one other than our vampire expert admits that his wife is real. So there you have it, the entire scheme was to take a guy’s wife and make him think he was crazy and didn’t have a wife. They were such evil masterminds that they didn’t realize they could kill the husband and just leave his body in the wilderness to most likely never be found. I mean they were in the middle of nowhere.
Apart from that I’ll now come back to the real reason I could not stand the vampire hunter/expert guy. How does he eradicate the vampire scourge from the castle? Stakes through the heart, fire, holy water, sunlight? Not even close. He uses an old magic spell calling on pagan gods that causes evil to destroy evil. That translates to a massive swarm of bats that go into the garlic sealed castle and kill all the vampires. Coincidentally this was the unused ending to The Brides of Dracula; it was unused because Peter Cushing refused to allow it citing that his character (Van Helsing) would not resort to magic like that. Thankfully they went with a different way in Brides, but not for Kiss of the Vampire. It just irks me, I don’t think those that fight evil should rely on evil to accomplish their goals, but that’s me.
So there you have it. I agree with my wife regarding this one that it just isn’t great, not only that it really isn’t that good. It only has two of the trade mark Hammer features, blood and women. So it’s not a good Hammer film and not overly enjoyable it’s long on downtime and even the climatic battle between good and evil is non-existent. If you want Hammer vampires stick with the Dracula’s or the Karnstein films (Vampire Lovers, Vampyre, Twins of Evil) or Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter. Kiss of the Vampire will sorely disappoint you if you are looking for the grand Hammer tradition of awesome horror.