The Kiss of the Vampire (Kiss) is a Hammer horror film made in 1963, directed by Don Sharp. Kiss is one of several Hammer vampire movies that are not about Dracula. This film follows a newly wedded couple named Gerald (Edward de Souza) and Marianne (Jennifer Daniel) Harcourt.
The couple is traveling through Bavaria on their honeymoon. When their car breaks down, they must take refuge in a local hotel that resides under the shadow of a dark castle. The caretakers behave strangely. Eventually, the Harcourt’s are invited to visit the castle.
At the castle they meet Dr. Ravna. Dr. Ravna charms Marianne and she becomes enthralled by the Dr. and his son. The Harcourts are then slowly drawn into a depraved cult of vampires lead by Dr. Ravna.
A Familiar Vampire Tale
For fans of vampire movies, there is nothing here that has not been thoroughly explored in the vast array of films that came before it. It follows a similar plot where the vampire is smitten by a beautiful woman, so he puts her under his spell. Her man must fight to get her back from the clutches of evil. In almost all aspects, this movie is indiscernible from a Dracula movie.
Even though this is a tired formula, this film executes against the formula very well. Those familiar with Hammer horror will recognize a certain visual atmosphere that is vibrant and pleasing to the eye. The film retains the Hammer horror patina that makes the characters pop against the background. Many of the scenes are shot with the entire room in frame and much of the film is dialog driven.
While the acting is not Oscar quality, the characters are believable. Marianne Harcourt has a certain innocence about her. Jennifer Daniel is as stunning as any other Hammer scream queen. Dr. Ravna and his son exude a feeling of elegance cut with darkness. Dr. Ravna may not eclipse Christopher Lee’s best performances as Dracula, but he is certainly a worthy of the role. Noel Willman, the actor that plays Dr. Ravna, was also performed in the Hammer classic The Reptile (1966).
Kiss of the Vampire – Interesting Ingredients
There are a few interesting aspects to Kiss of the Vampire. First, Dr. Ravna is the leader of secret vampire society. The members of the cult rely on the Dr. for feeding and protection. Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans) provides a similar character to Van Helsing, but he is far less refined. The man is a drunk that is willing to anything, including black magic if that is what it takes to defeat Ravna. Finally, there are the trademark Lady Vampires that often grace Hammer films. They are as beautiful as they are deadly.
At the time of its release, Hammer films were trending towards the more violent and graphic. With the exception of a particularly brutal opening scene, Sharp refrains from pouring buckets of blood for the duration of the film. For the most part, the narrative is tight enough that the gore is not missed.
Kiss of the Vampire – Meets Expectations
As far as Hammer horror films are concerned, this is as boilerplate as they come. The film avoids taking risks. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Don Sharp follows a closely configured formula for success, and it delivers on that recipe. Kiss of the Vampire neither dazzles nor does it disappoint. It represents just another classic example of the the studio’s proven knack for entertaining horror films. It is a solid 90 minute Hammer classic.
The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) - Ravenous Hammer Vampires - Malevolent Dark
Director: Don Sharp
Date Created: 1963-01-01 00:00