Failploitation: ‘Vampyros Lesbos’

Failploitation: ‘Vampyros Lesbos’

It was a brisk winter day here in Brisbane, Australia and the leaves were beginning to change their color in order to adapt to the cooler weather that has invaded Australia’s tropical climate. The air moved quickly around me as I made my way up the path from the main building on campus. I was finished with my exams and felt the relief that came with the completion of the semester. Much like Christian in The Pilgrims Progress, I had lost my burden that had been eating at my back all this time. A new sense of revival filled my soul and I took it to myself to explore the library once again for some piece of cinema that would be difficult to find anywhere else. After a coffee, my friend and I departed into the depths of the media room where there lay a large selection of films both new and old, along with films of different regions and countries. After grabbing some mainstream films that were to be viewed in my leisure, my friend grabbed a film off the self with limited box art called Vampyros Lesbos. With a strong viewer restriction on the front and the description of “An erotic horror tale about a vixen vampiress seducing and killing women to appease her insatiable thirst for female blood,” I figured I was going to have a lot of fun watching this piece of ancient cinema. Well, when I finally sat down to view the movie, all I saw was a horrendously boring take on Bram Stoker’s amazing tale of never-ending love. Hey, I can’t always have a beautiful picture.

The movie was released in 1971 and is spoken completely in German (with English subtitles) but filmed in Turkey. If you didn’t know, Turkey and Germany have had a very strong relationship since the end of World War II for reasons that I will spare you at this time. The purpose of this film (at least what I thought) was to bring the rise of Lesbian eroticism to the forefront and prove that women don’t really need men. I am all for this but the movie poorly executes these ideas. The story itself is parallel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the book and the movie as well), where a rich Countess (as opposed to Count) is looking for property and hires a real estate agent to fix her up. After the real estate agent is bitten by the Countess in a boring display of lust, she too becomes infected but is able to cure herself (by the way, the movie ignores all reason and rules surrounding vampire lore because vampirism cannot be cured) and finds the strength to resist the Countess’s magic in order to destroy the vampire. Also, there is a scene in which the Countess and the Agent play on the beach together…IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY! Ok, ok, I am not stuck up about playing by the rules but it seems a little silly that they ignored some pretty big ones. I understand that this movie is just trying to be sexy with a vampire story thrown in.

The problem with the movie is that is so goddamn dull, it reminds me of those Italian horror films where there are areas of excitement are followed by twenty minutes of boring and nonsensical dialogue. Now take out the exciting and extremely gory parts of the typical Italian horror film and you end up with Vampyros Lesbos. There is no real gore to speak of and when there is, it looks like paint was just thrown on a person’s head or neck. The sexuality that seemed to be the big selling point of the movie is painful to watch: it is just two women who playfully kiss each other like they were drunk and/or completely nervous. It doesn’t do anything for the Lesbian community either; it just proved that women are unable to handle their situations without the help of a man. That always gets me agitated. If you want to empower women please do so but don’t make them seem helpless and overtly emotional. The music drove me nuts as well, it is this psychedelic seventies guitar/sitar soundtrack that is just plain noise over the course of the film. It does not lend any help to the events or emotional areas of the film.

What I really did like about the movie was the fact that they played pretty close to the story of Dracula and put their own twist on it. It is a shame that they could not execute it better. I would love someone to do something like this nowadays with over-the-top gore and sexuality. For the time, this may have been what they wanted but for reasons I do not know, they had to cut a lot of the good stuff out (or maybe they were just bad writers/filmmakers). The movie just failed at trying to do anything controversial or mind blowing. If you wanted to see something similar to Vampyros Lesbos but done well, turn to the Italian horror genre (though that is not to my liking, out of preference). This movie may be liked by many or none of you but I found it so very uninteresting and I implore you to waste your time doing something else.

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My name is Jesse Lee Alan Bartel and I love being a critic on things you don't care about. I love films, horror, writing, and violent video games. Hope to hear from you and happy stabbings. I am also a regular contributor to The Liberal Dead.

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