Kiss of the Vampire (1963)

Hammer Film’s Kiss of the Vampire is a classic of the genre. Released in the early 60’s during the tons of vampire films in the wake of Hammer’s hugely successful 1958 version of Dracula starring Christopher Lee, gives it the characteristically Hammer atmosphere between the more popular Universal horror of the 30’s and 40’s and the more intimate, in your face brand of the 70’s and beyond.

Kiss of the Vampire begins strongly. The first thing we see is a funeral procession. Both the direction and cinematography in the opening are absolutely stunning. Sharp manages to show an activity that we’ve seen in at least 200 other horror flicks from a completely fresh angle. He also takes his time, giving the funeral more emotional weight, even at such an early point in the film; we don’t even know who any of the characters are yet. Alan Hume’s camera work conveys a very deep three-dimensional setting, and manages to be beautiful, cold and bleak at the same time. Our first glimpse of Professor Zimmer, elevated and at a distance from the funeral party, is haunting, and equally effective is the shock of his next action, which results in an amazingly red pool of blood. Which is how I would kill vampires if I was a vampire hunter. Crush them in the coffin while other are watching.

As a Hammer film, Kiss of the Vampire contains almost no gore (except for that pool of blood that I mentioned from the first scene). It also characteristically moves much slower, than most younger genre fans will be accustomed to. These aren’t flaws, of course, but just warnings to those of you whose horror experience to this point consists mainly of Scream, Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre that you need to adjust your settings, and maybe lay off the sugar  and the mountain dew a bit, before you sit down to watch the classic films of this and earlier eras.

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One Response to “Kiss of the Vampire (1963)”

  1. damienrath Says:

    Very first beginnings of Hammer film
    Eerie atmosphere, this is what Hammer has never failed in

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