The Films Of Roman Polanski: The Fearless Vampire Killers (#4)

I wouldn’t call The Fearless Vampire Killers a failure – it was more of a letdown. Until this point, Polanski’s had successfully improved upon each of his past films.  The Fearless Vampire Killers is Polanski’s first step back and also his first true comedy.  It has an adult fairy tale element to it, something that Polanski would visit again in 2005’s Oliver Twist.  Much like the rest of his early work, the characters are trapped, this time however it’s more zany than claustrophobic as the film contains a fair amount of slapstick and gag humor.

The films’ plot is a variation on the basic Dracula story: two men, a professor, and his assistant (Polanski), travel to a remote Transylvania village in hopes of finding proof of vampires. When the beautiful daughter of the innkeeper (Tate) is kidnapped by a vampire and taken his castle, the two mount a rescue mission and vampire hokey-ness ensues.

I won’t lie to you, aside from three main highlights, the film is remarkably average.  The first of these highlights is actually one of my favorite moments in any Polanski film.  It’s a remarkable shot  where at a large vampire ball, our heroes’ cover is blown (I don’t want to ruin it by describing exactly how it happens, but it is worth watching the movie just for this one moment of brilliance.) Another reason the film is worth watching is that Sharon Tate is stunningly beautiful and her character in the film is addicted to taking baths (I bet Polanski was smirking when he wrote that into the screen play.)  The last highlight of the film is watching Roman Polanski himself run from vampires in ridiculously sped up chase scenes.

I guess my bottom line is that the movie is fun.  It isn’t great and it doesn’t belong in or around the same room you keep your other early Polanski films in.  It was Polanski’s first widescreen film, his first color film, and his first film to be considered a failure.  Polanski could probably care less about the films’ critical reception though, as he was busy taking racy photos of Sharon Tate whom he would go on to marry.

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Categories: Roman Polanski

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