Review Date: March 23, 2010
Released by: Blue Underground
Release date: 3/30/2010
Region Free, HDTV
Codec: VC1, 1080p
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Never underestimate the power of the breast. Of the 800+ reviews on the site, Vampyres
is one of the most read. More read than Halloween or Phantasm. It’s well written…right? People love my prose. Yeah, sure, that and the boobs of Marianne Morris and Anulka. Someone at Blue Underground must like them, too, since before we get the Fulci and Argento films we crave on the blue disc, we’re instead getting Vampyres
. How much better can you make out breasts of the undead, blood sucking kind in HD? Let’s find out!
Fulfilling their carnal lesbian desires, Fran (Marianne Morris
) and Miriam (Anulka
) are brutally shot dead by the hand of a presumably male, gloved killer. After an undisclosed period of time, the two have been inexplicably resurrected, with the apparent thirst for blood. Enter the neo-Jonathan Harker, Ted (Murray Brown
), who is up in the forest-clad wilderness for some business. A pair of travelers are also venturing into the fall outskirts of civilization, and their worries are struck early on as they witness Fran and Miriam, standing alongside the road. The two women are picked up and disappear mysteriously to their gothic castle.
While in the castle with their lovers, the lustful Vampyres
indulge in wine, sex...and death! Fran and John engage in passionate sex, and when he awakens he notices a gaping cut on his arm. He leaves the castle and gets it stitched up by the aforementioned pair of travelers, but his sensual uncertainty about the two beautiful mistresses brings him back to the castle. His questioning gets the best of him, as Fran and Miriam drain him of his red and white cells.
Drained nearly entirely of life, John must witness the deeds of the diabolic duo as they tear into more men and women with increasing bloodlust. Will he be able to reunite with the travelers and save himself from the erotic evil of the two Vampyres
, or is survival merely an idyllic dream?
Shoddy all the way, the only real draw to Vampyres
is the beautiful bodies of Marianne Morris and Anulka. Both actresses had substantial success in modeling, and to their roles they bring ample amounts of nudity and sensuality, as they unclothe themselves as much as possible. Both ladies project an oblique mystery to their caricatures, and Morris' alluring stare is both scary and erotic. I say caricatures not only because director José Ramón Larraz is a comic book aficionado, but also because the characters are about as thin as the pages of a comic strip. There is really no development as to what makes them the temptresses they've become, nor is there any mention as to why they were initially killed or most importantly, why they are Vampyres
in the first place.
Extending not only from the two leads, but also to the rest of the characters, the film is incredibly simplistic in its lack of any real development. The whole film is so simple: sexually hungry vamps pickup, screw and kill consenting men. The fact that all the men pick them up by car could be read as a parable to prostitution, but given the meandering and amateur nature of the film, such a reading is about as Marianne Morris keeping her clothes on.
The film flutters around with a dream-like discontinuity, never establishing its sense of the past or the present, but such an effect appears more to be as an incompetence rather than a planned synthesis. The tacked on and indistinct ending attempts to give the film seeming sophistication, but really only discloses further the clumsiness of the production.
Deemed a cult film, I suspect that the only real reason Vampyres
has garnered any following at all is because of the breasts of the two leads. It offers nothing new to the Dracula sub-genre, failing to develop the misogynistic beginning or the inner thoughts of its two lesbian focus points. See it for the nudity, but be prepared to sift through several lengthy segments of plodding boredom. And don't even try to take it for anything else than face value, because this is just another lesbian vampire exploitation film, nothing more, nothing less.
has always been a soft, grainy film, but here on Blu-ray it has a level of sharpness not before seen. There are many moments with a revealing amount of detail (sadly I noticed it more on close-ups of the men than I did close-ups of Morris’ chest) that was always lacking from the previous Blue Underground and Anchor Bay DVDs prior. That said, the sharpness comes at a price – artificial noise! Like The Stendhal Syndrome before it, Vampyres
is a victim of some pretty substantial digital sharpening, and you can see it when the noise patterns start to dance around all over the screen. Check out the scene at around 26:00, it’s a distracting flurry of black specs all over the skin tones. The rest of the film isn’t that bad, but it is often very noticeable throughout. The colors were strong on the DVD, and their even better here, impeccably vivid for a film of such vintage. Still, I wouldn’t single the film out for its video quality, and this transfer should be further proof that the motivation for re-release was not the quality of the master, but the quality of the breasts.
Blue Underground offers up a DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio mix in addition to a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix. On paper, that's a big upgrade compared to the previous DVD's mono, but in practice it's not that big of a difference. You can hear a slightly fuller sound here, but on the whole it’s a pretty flat experience. The dialogue and sound effects tracks offer pithy range, and clearly bottleneck with the source material. There are a few moments of decent LFE activity, mostly for music cues, and it’s clear that Blue Underground did at least try to incorporate a bit of surround envelopment. While there aren’t really any discreet sound effects, you can hear modest ambient filler in many scenes, like rain pouring or birds chirping in the rears. Even those effects, though, seem matrixed out from the main dialogue track, and this lack the clarity that would lend to a true surround sound experience. Like with the image quality, it’s clear Blue Underground tried their best, but the source material just isn’t quite up to snuff.
No need for a bigger bandwidth bra size when it comes to extras – they’re all the exact same as the ones featured on the previous DVD. In fact, there’s been a slight reduction by way of the two still galleries, a director bio and the storyboarded scene reconstruction. It’s too bad Blue Underground continues to drop those menu-driven still extras since they were always of a high standard. Anyway, here are the extras in question:
First up is a commentary by Brian Smedley-Aston and José Ramón Larraz, producer and director, respectively. Although the track lacks much insight, it is an amusing listen, if only to here Larraz freely spit F-bombs on a mile a minute basis. There is talk about the production and how the film got to be made, and other anecdotes are littered throughout the way. As the commentary concludes, Larraz shamelessly tries to give reason to his impenetrable ending.
The jewel of this release (and the DVD prior) is the "Return of the Vampyres
" featurette, which interviews the two leading ladies nearly 30 years later. Both have surprisingly little to say about the film (which is expected since neither really have even watched it), but they do offer a nice window into their personal lives. Anulka talks about her life before and after the film, and even talks at length about her relationship with a rocker that ended somberly. Marianne Morris is not quite as vocal about her personal life, but she does have some interesting things to say. Both women still look stunning to this day, and it is great that Blue Underground tracked them down for this release. Although they offer very little background to the film, it is still a worthwhile 13 minutes.
The international and U.S. theatrical trailers are included, and the U.S. version is hysterically campy. With laughably grave voice, the narrator repeatedly repeates: "Vampyres! Very unnatural women." The international trailer is about as meandering as the film itself.
has two things going for it, and it’s not story and suspense. Delivering (again and again) on the premise of voluptuous vampires sexing and devouring horny men, Vampyres
will please those looking for a rub. Those looking for narrative, gore or scares will otherwise be bored. Well, as bored as you could be with a couple naked women prancing around. The bodies look good in HD, or H double D, in this case, although this grainy film gets even more cluttered with the addition of digital noise. The DTS-HD mix doesn’t offer much improvement, and the extras are the same minus a few galleries. Seeing this once is surely enough, so those who have the DVD should suck their teeth into something richer. Now watch the hit count soar one more for my powerful prose. And the nude screen caps.
*Because of the quality of the HD format, the clarity, resolution and color depth are inherently a major leap over DVD. Since any Blu-ray will naturally have better characteristics than DVDs, the rating is therefore only in comparison with other Blu-ray titles, rather than home video in general. So while a Blu-ray film may only get a C, it will likely be much better than a DVD with an A.
Movie - C-
Image Quality - B*
Sound - C+
Supplements - B-
- Running Time - 1 hour 28 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English DTS-HD 7.1
- English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
- English mono
- English subtitles
- French subtitles
- Spanish subtitles
- Audio commentary with Director José Ramón Larraz and Producer Brian Smedley-Aston
- "Return of the Vampyres" interview with Anulka and Marianne Morris
- "Lost" Caravan scene reconstruction
- Poster & still gallery
- Anulka glamour gallery
- International trailer
- U.S. trailer
- José Ramón Larraz bio
- "Vampyres - A tribute to the Ultimate in Erotic Horror Cinema" (DVD-ROM only)