I Vampiri (1956)

A police detective attempts to solve a series of murders that are plaguing Paris, which he comes to find out are being committed by a mad doctor who has been bleeding young women in order to restore the youth and beauty of his aging wife. I VAMPIRI is a strong step forward in the emerging Italian Horror cinema, boldly reshaping the Gothic Horror film with influences from the German Expressionists and Italian crime dramas. Italian master Mario Bava served as the cinematographer and assistant director under Riccardo Freda in one of his first genre efforts before taking over the directing duties to finish the film. The stunning visuals are largely the result of Bava's superior eye, as he introduced impossible camera movements, atmospheric shots from subjective high and low angles, clever shadow play, and seamless lapse dissolve into the picture. The large, ornate castle interiors are contrasted against dark crypts, foggy graveyards, and the modern Parisian backdrop, settings that would usher in Bava's Gothic masterpiece THE MASK OF SATAN in the years to follow. I VAMPIRI is competently acted, but the film does appear to have two distinct personalities: the modern crime drama that would become the Giallo in Italy, and a Gothic retelling of the Elizabeth Bathory tale. Although it mostly proves to be a case of style over substance, it is an enjoyable vampire effort and an important historical milestone in Italian Horror.

Rating: 8/10.

2 comments:

  1. I hear Bava ended up finishing this film himself, he half directed it which is probably why it has such a strong visual thing going for it. I havent seen it yet, but Im salivating over it.

    I guess he was getting ready to make the big leap to directing a full length picture himself...which he did with Mask of Satan, which as you already know I consider a full on Italian Gothic masterpiece!

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  2. I never did finish watching this one.

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