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.