THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967)
Article #596 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 11-1-2002
Posting date: 3-27-2003
A professor and his assistant encounter vampires in the snowbound wilds of Transylvania.
Roman Polanski is one of those great directors who has spent a lot of his energy on cinema of the fantastic, and I can’t help but be vastly amused that he decided to take on the rather dubious genre of the horror comedy here. He doesn’t even blanche at using slapstick humor throughout, though it’s certainly done with a lot more grace than you would expect from the Three Stooges, for example. It’s not my favorite horror comedy of all time (I can think of a few others that give me a lot more laughs), but it is genuinely amusing, clever, and strikingly beautiful to look at. I find it fascinating in particular that he chose to set the movie during the winter months; the vast fields of snow that serve as a backdrop to the action give the movie a unique ambience that is quite unlike any other vampire movie I know of. He has a lot of fun with certain vampire cliches; not only does this movie have one of the first openly gay vampires, but it also has one of the first Jewish comic relief vampires that I’ve noticed in a movie (and guess what defense against vampires is of little use against them?). I also can’t help but notice how mirrors, usually used to spot the vampires, end up playing a crucial role in helping the vampires to spot the humans at one crucial juncture of the story.