DVD Review: VAMPIRE ECSTASY (1973)

PrintE-mail Written by Martin Unsworth

Review: Vampire Ecstasy / Cert: 18 / Director: Joseph W. Sarno / Screenplay: Joseph W. Sarno / Starring: Nadia Henkowa, Anke Syring, Marie Forså, Nico Wolferstetter / Release Date: January 21st

While not the most famous of names in the sexploitation genre, Joe Sarno was nevertheless one of its leading players. With Vampire Ecstasy (aka Veil of Blood or The Devil's Plaything) he crossed over into the horror scene, albeit in a very small way.

In a familiar horror trope, a group of young girls have been invited to an old castle, whose housekeeper Wanda (Henkova) and her maidens happen to be vampires/witches/weirdo sex maniacs (delete as you will). Wanda decides that the pretty young Helga (Forså, later to be a major star in Scandinavian exploitation films such as Flossie) would be the ideal vessel in which to resurrect her vampire mistress, Baroness Varga. However, two other visitors, Julia and Peter, (Syring and Wolferstetter), try put a stop to their plan.

Sporting crucifixes made from garlic cloves around their necks, the group attempt to fend off the lustful locals, who retaliate by dancing naked around a burning cauldron, brandishing phallic candles to a hypnotic drumbeat, thus causing the girls to lose all inhibitions and have continual masturbation sessions. Helga comes off worse, as her itch just can't be scratched. “Make the throbbing stop!” she begs the cruel Wanda.

Unusually for a German movie, the cast were required to mouth English dialogue, which is all good and fine, except as it's not their native language, the acting is stilted to say the least. Also, after over 90 minutes of almost none stop boobs (nice as they are) you do wish for something a little more, and the climax is a bit of a damp squib. While Henkova makes a very imposing villain, there's no real sense of danger. The castle location is wonderful, however, and the cinematography is a cut above the usual standard for this type of sleaze and creates a surreal atmosphere in which anything could happen (but sadly doesn't).

This release, the first time in the UK, is uncut and looks great, and those rhythmic drums will be beating in your head long after the credits roll. It's more for fans of Jean Rollin than Hammer, so if softcore vintage eroticism is your bag, it's worth a look.

Extras: 'A Touch of Horror' – a 6 minute interview with the late director, Joseph Sarno, which is interesting but not in depth.


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