Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Undead

I don't want my reivew of The Fearless Vampire Killers to hinge on director/co-star Roman Polanski's recent legal notoriety. And I wanted to avoid discussion of female lead Sharon Tate's sad end. But it's pretty hard to avoid - Mrs. Spenser had to leave less than halfway through. "It's just too sad, knowing how they all wind up," she said.

That bothered me too, but what really bothered me was - it isn't very funny.

Scholarly old Jack MacGowran and his feckless young assistant Roman Polanski are searching for vampires in Transylvania. They come across an inn where the peasants seem to quick to deny the existence of vampires, and too fond of garlic. The innkeeper is Alfie Bass and his beautiful daughter is Sharon Tate. When she is swept away by the local Count Krolock, our heroes rush to save her.

This is all accompanied by sexual innuendo, badinage, wordplay and slapstick, none of it as good as the lowest Mel Brooks. The best Mel Brooks is a high hurdle, but face it, there's isn't much he would turn his nose up at. This wouldn't make the cut. Except -

I mentioned Alfie Bass. You may not recognize the name, but in the 60s and 70s, he was the go-to guy when you needed a cockney Jew. We know him mainly as M. Goldberg from the BBC series Are You Being Served. He's just plain funny, and he gets the best line in the movie. After he's been turned vampire, someone tries to use a crucifix against him. "Oy, have you got the wrong vampire!"

1 comment:

smithfu2000@yahoo.com said...

Tom,

I saw "The Fearless Vampire Killers" on the big screen in 1968 at the Jose Theater in San Jose. It was part of a triple-feature show that also included "The Kiss of the Vampire" and "King Kong Escapes." Needless to say, the Polanski film was head-and-shoulders above the other movies. Plus, the visuals were breathtaking when viewed on the widescreen ... especially the ballroom scene.

As you might imagine, much of the film's qualities were lost on the kids that attended the triple-bill.