2018 Countdown to Halloween – Day 28: The Vampire and the Ballerina (1960)
Cast: Helen Remy as Luisa
Tina Gloriani as Francesca
Walter Brandi as Herman
Isarco Ravaioli as Luca
Gino Turini as Giorgio
Maria Luisa Rolando as Countess Alda
Pier Ugo Gragnani as Professor
Written by Ernesto Gastaldi, Giuseppe Pellegrini & Renato Polselli
Directed by Renato Polselli
Plot: When Luisa, Francesca and Luca find an abandoned castle in the forest, they encounter the beautiful Countess Alda. She reaches out to Luca and is in need of help. Who is the mysterious Herman and what is his connection to a hideous vampire preying on the women of the nearby village every full moon? And what hold does he have over the lovely Countess?
Richard’s Review: This was an interesting mix of gothic horror with then contemporary music and sexy women. The young women, who are supposed to be ballerinas, are really more dancers as their performances are clearly a blend of ballet, dance and erotic movements. Gothic settings, such as the abandoned castle and hidden prison cells are seen through both traditional music as well as a jazzy soundtrack that seems vert out-of-place at times. However, it clearly established at the time that the film was something new and different.
The story of the Countess and her servant Herman is a bid odd as it presents a new version of the vampire lore. Why Herman, which is a very odd name for the time period, changes from a hideous creature to a handsome young man is never fully explained. It’s also puzzling that he would turn the young Brigida at the beginning of the film only to kill her shortly thereafter. And why was she buried alive on the day after she was initially bitten? Her family acted like she was dead but they had to see that her eyes were open.
The script made some odd choices like this that are never really fleshed out while a lot of time is spent watching the girls dance around seductively. It made sense at the time it was made since they wanted to mix horror and sex but it stands out now as deterring from the main plot. All that said, I did enjoy The Vampire and the Ballerina for the most part. I can overlook some of the weaker elements, such as the ending scene on top of the castle. The deaths are well done but the abrupt nature is a little nonsensical. This definitely is something different for a late night creature feature viewing.
Karla’s Thoughts: It always gets me how people enter these houses uninvited and just start snooping around. It never ends well but, then again, we wouldn’t have much of a movie if they didn’t. The title of this one is wrong as the girls are more dancers than ballerinas. I know, a minor point but one that stood out to me. All of these characters made choices and none of them were very likeable. This different take on the vampire legend was a little weird and the ending seemed rushed. I didn’t hate this one but I found it to be lacking something. Not sure I’d watch it again.
- The original ending of the film was much more graphic, focusing on more prolonged close-ups of the melting vampire faces.
- This film is considered the first to mix a horror and vampire film with modern-day sex, becoming an influence on future European horror films, especially those from Hammer.
Availability: The Vampire and the Ballerina is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.