Vampire’s Night Orgy – Review

Fernando Bilbao in Vampire's Night Orgy

Fernando Bilbao in Vampire's Night Orgy

Aka La orgia nocturna de los vampiros (Es)
1973
Spain
Jose Frade producciones cinematograficas, S.A.
Director: Leòn Klimovsky
Story & screenplay: Gabriel Burgos, Antonio Fos
Cinematography: Antonio Lopez Ballesteros {Eastmancolor – Techniscope}
Music: not credited
Editor: Antonio Ramirez de Loaysa
Art director: Gumersido Andrés
Filmed: Exteriors shot in Talamanca del Jarama, Sesena, Uceda, Torrelaguna y Patones
Release information: Spain (109 mins), USA (09/74)
Spanish takings: €76.571,60
Cast: Jack Taylor (Louis), Dianik Zurakowska (Alma), Charo Soriano (Raquel), Helga Liné (the Countess), José Guardiola (Boris, the major), Manuel de Blas (Marcus), David Aller (Caesar), [Gaspar] Indio González (Ernesto), Luis Ciges (Godo), Antonio Páramo (Bujoli police official), María Vidal (Criada), Sandalio Hernández (Mesonero), Fernando Bilbao (the giant), Alfonso de la Vega (the lame blacksmith), Rafael Albaicín (the knife grinder), L. Villena (the bus driver), and with Fernando E. Romero (the boy), Sarita Gil (Violet, the little girl)

This is one of those films that starts – like The Island of Death and A Candle for the Devil – with a busload of strangers arriving in the depths of the countryside. Unlike those films, though, this is very much from the slightly cheesy, fantastical school of Spanish horror. Rather than encountering ‘real’ monsters, such as potty hoteliers or psychotic pre-teens, the beasties they encounter on their travels are very much the stuff of myths and legends.

In this case the passengers are on their way to begin new jobs at a country estate when their driver collapses and dies. Rather than carry on to their intended destination, they decide to take shelter in an isolated village of Tonia. It immediately becomes clear that something strange is afoot: the village appears to be entirely deserted, at least until the sun comes up. Even spookier, they come across Louis (Jack Taylor and his sinister mackintosh), who ‘travels around a lot’, and has ‘an American car from the seventies’. Louis is fortunate enough to discover a hole in his wardrobe, which allows a perfect view of pretty Alma (Dianik Zurakowska) taking all of her clothes off (and thus proves that the Hispanic hero is a very different creature to his American equivalent).

Needless to say, the inhabitants of Tonia – who all appear to be in thrall to the mysterious ‘Countess’ (Helga Line) – are actually cannibalistic members of the undead, and they’re soon munching their way through the entire supporting cast. Eventually, this leaves just Louis and Alma trying to fend off the thirsty bloodsuckers (as well as their reanimated, former companions), but will they be able to make their escape?

Hardly a great film, The Vampires Night Orgy is at least good fun, which makes is considerably better than much of director Leon Klimovsky’s output. Klimovsky was a dentist-turned-filmmaker who turned his hand to just about every genre going, usually with a singular lack of success. He was also renowned for not actually directing a number of the films for which he is credited, acting as a handy ‘name’, so that Spanish production companies could take advantage of lucrative domestic tax breaks (although this doesn’t seem to have been the case with his work in the horror genre). His cinematic signature, if one was to be distinguished, was to have repeated slow motion shots of women in nighties, and this does seem to have won him some fans in certain quarters. The females here remain real-time, albeit wearing diaphanous sleepwear, but the film does display the usual Klimovsky static camerawork and variable pacing.

Dianik Zurakowska in Vampire's Night Orgy
Dianik Zurakowska in Vampire’s Night Orgy

Fortunately, he’s backed up by some handy professionals here. Antonio (The Last Days of Pompei (Gli ultimo giorni dei Pompei, 59) Ballesteros makes the remote locations look suitably forlorn, and the village itself seems to be on the point of total collapse. The cast of Spanish character actors is fine, with veteran Jose Guardiola being particularly effective as the smooth Major and Fernando Bilbao, a creepy looking thug who also acted under the name ‘Fred Harris’, making an impression as an axe wielding giant. Helga Line doesn’t actually have that much to do, but she plays the Countess in a not dissimilar way to Lina Romay’s melancholic vampires in Female Vampire and Vampyros Lesbos.

Despite its rather unambitious premise – the plot is a simple conflation of vampire and folklore legends, with a dash of Brigadoon thrown in for luck – one of the best things about The Vampires Night Orgy is its script. Writer Antonio Fos had a hand in an good number of Spanish genre productions, most of which are far above average (Murder in a Blue World (UnaGota de sangre para morir amando, 73), The Glass Ceiling (El techo de crystal, 71). Although this isn’t one of his more incisive works, it does benefit from a considerable, pitch black humor. One particularly grotesque running joke finds the villagers, who have no ‘real’ meat to feed their visitors, lopping parts off each others bodies for use in the cooking pot. This gag also gives rise to poor Dianik Zurakowska finding a human finger in her supper, a good decade before C. Tomas Howell experienced something similar in The Hitcher. Fos also penned the aforementioned A Candle for the Devil – which features an unfortunate diner being served a human eyeball –in the same year, so you do have to wonder whether he’d suffered a disagreeable restaurant experience at around the time.

The Pagan DVD under review is good, if not spectacular. The picture is a little soft – nothing too terrible – and it’s presented in a non-anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The sound, unfortunately, is mixed very low, and if you forget to re-adjust your volume control before switching back to your TV you’re liable to get a painful blast in your eardrums. The Spanish version apparently lasts about 20 minutes longer and features additional nudity, but in some ways the shorter running time suits it just fine.

About Matt Blake

The WildEye is a blog dedicated to the wild world of Italian cinema (and, ok, sometimes I digress into discussing films from other countries as well). Peplums, comedies, dramas, spaghetti westerns... they're all covered here.
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One Response to Vampire’s Night Orgy – Review

  1. Stephen Grimes says:

    Great film.There’s also an English language alternative ‘unclothed’ version of this in circulatIon.

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