Halloween is just around the corner, ladies and gentlemen, and because it is an occasion that I love so much, I’m bringing you the best Halloween/horror films from the depths of the vaults this season. Instead of my monthly column, expect weekly updates from yours truly for the month of October. Let’s begin with The Fearless Vampires, a fantastic 1967 horror comedy from the brilliant mind of Roman Polanski.
Polanski costars as Alfred, alongside his mentor, Professor Abronsius (played by Jack MacGowran) as a pair of amateurish vampire hunters in Transylvania. The great strength of this slapstick comedy is matched by its awesome script and its delightful cast. The much beloved Sharon Tate stars as Sarah, the local love interest and femme fatale of the film. To see Sharon Tate onscreen is beauty beyond compare; she was truly a woman of many talents and an absolutely enchanting actress.
She is kidnapped by the head of the vampires, the nefarious Count von Krolock (an obvious Dracula parody), where she is imprisoned. As such, it is up to Alfred and Professor Abronsius to rescue them. However, Alfred isn’t particularly bright…in fact, most of the characters in the film are deliberately dimwitted, contributing to the film’s rich humour. Arriving at the castle, the vampire hunters meet a weird and wonderful cast of characters, including a lecherous hunchback named Koulok and Count von Krolock’s super gay son, Herbert, who takes particular interest in Alfred. Reuniting with dear Sarah, the vampire hunters endure an awkward ball, a hilariously shortlived toboggan chase, and countless other shenanigans at the Count’s castle.
Although the vampire genre has been almost milked dry, with Twilight and other fodder on the rise, The Fearless Vampire Killers is a genuinely entertaining film and a welcome addition to the horror/comedy category. It’s my personal favourite Polanski film and it’s a classic Halloween film, guaranteed for a few laughs and it’s very cinematic. As a film that satirizes Dracula and the myriad of vampire films associated with it, Polanski’s reexamination of the material is surprisingly refreshing, providing a colourful plot and a realized atmosphere. For the record, Bad Brains also did a song called “Fearless Vampire Killers” (based on the film) on their debut album, which is worth checking out as well.