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I Vampiri

The Devil's Commandment
Lust of the Vampire

Italy 1956
produced by
Luigi Carpentieri, Ermanno Donati for Titanus
directed by Riccardo Freda
starring Gianna Maria Canale, Dario Michaelis, Carlo D'Angelo, Wandisa Guida, Antoine Balpêtré, Paul Muller, Renato Tontini, Angelo Galassi, Gisella Mancinotti, Riccardo Freda, Charles Fawcett
screenplay by Riccardo Freda, Piero Regnoli, Rik Sjostrom, J.V.Rhemo, cinematography by Mario Bava, music by Roman Vlad

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A serial killer is loose in Paris, & he has already sucked 4 girls dry of their blood - so is it any wonder he is dubbed Vampire in the media ?

But of all those nosy journalists only Pierre (Dario Michaelis) seems to have any interest in investigating the case, & he soon digs up some clues that even police inspector Chantal (Carlo D'Angelo) has overlooked, however every time he wants to show his new discoveries to the inspector (& by that way help his own reputation as investigative journalist), the vampire killer(s) have found a way to elude him & make him look a fool.

But who are the vampire killers ?

Why, the head is professor Du Grand (Antoine Balpêtré), a mad scientist who needs female blood for some ghastly experiments, & his right-hand-man, the actual killer, is Joseph (Paul Muller), a drug addict who was willing to help Du Grand because he can provide him with drugs ... but behind it all there's Duchess Margherita, a woman always veiled because she could never come to terms with her age.

Soon though they realize they are on the verge of being discovered, so they kill Joseph & Du Grand fakes his own death ... with the Duchess, who can't possibly be traced to the killings, crying at Du Grand's funeral.

Pierre meanwhile is suspended from the vampire killer story & is instead sent to a society event of Duchess Margherita (not knowing how close he is to the truth), a woman who he is remotely related to & whose niece Giselle (Gianna Maria Canale) desperately tries to get him into her bed ... with little success.

Pierre's sidekick Ronaldo (Renato Tontini) on the other hand is fascinated by Giselle, so much so that he decides to force his way into her house the next night - which causes Giselle to stress out & age rapidly before his very eyes, & he guesses (correctly) that she must actually be her own aunt, Duchess Margherita, who, with the help of the blodo of young girls, has regained her youth ... this however would be the last thing he ever did guess.

Joseph meanwhile, thanks to the drugs the professor gave him, did rise from the dead, & to get back at the professor & the Duchess he decides to spill the beans to Pierre & the police, & now Pierre can persuade the doubting inspector to search the Duchess' house ... but to little avail, as Du grand & the Duchess seem to have been very dilligent in removing all treacherous traces, & the inspector prepares to leave, having been made a fool ... when he & his men witness Giselle turn into an old woman before their very eyes, 6 with that information traces they have formerly overlooked suddenly become obvious, & soon they find the thought-dead professor (who during the ensuing chase dies for real) & his secret lab as well as Loretta (Wandisa Guida), Rierre's girlfriend who has been abducted by Du Grand as well, & who was already on the verge of dieing.

The shock of being discovered proves too much for  the Dzuchess, & she dies for good, leaving Pierre & Loretta to look into a brighter future.

 

A very early Italian excursion into the horror genre (many sources quote it as being the first Italian sound horror film altogether), I Vampiri relies not so much on shock (there wasn't all that much one could show in the mid-50's anyways) or special effects, but on creating an eerie Gothic atmosphere, that seems to carry the somewhat stupid pulp-plot effortlessly.

Allegedly, cinematographer Mario Bava directed large portions of the fim on his own without receiving credit for it, according to several sources up to half of the film (but rumours say that about every other Italian film of the 1950's). It wasn't until 1960 (with La Maschera del Demonio/Black Sunday) that Bava did become an acknowledged horror-director in his own right.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD