Dance of the Vampires

Director: Roman Polanski

U.K.| 1968. Colour. Anamorphic. 124 mins.

Two gems of detail enclose this film: MGM’s lion at the beginning, which unexpectedly acquires vampire’s teeth; and an end credit that reads ‘Fangs by Dr. Ludwig von Krankheit’. In between is a sprightly spoof on Dracula, as a professor (Jack McGowran) and his young companion (Roman Polanski) arrive at an inn in Central Europe on a mission to destroy vampires. The film tickles the fancy and chills the blood, and what it lacks in narrative clarity, it compensates for in visual panache, never more so than in a spectacular midnight ball for the undead that is stopped in its tracks when a giant mirror reflects human intruders. Although the accent is on comedy, it would not be Polanski if there were not also an unexpected sting in the tail—or, in this case, bite in the neck.

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