Color, 2015, 79m.
Directed by Victor Matellano
Starring Caroline Munro, Verónica P. Bacorn, Marta Flich, Anthony Rotsa, Almudena Léon, Victor Vidal
Artsploitation Films (DVD) (US R0 NTSC), Wicked-Vision (Blu-ray & DVD) (Germany RB/R2 HD/PAL) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)
The appeal of the shockingly violent and carnal Vampyres by José Ramón Larraz has shown no signs of waning since its release in 1974, so it wasn't surprising that someone would tackle a remake at some point down the road. That day finally came with this 2015 Spanish production by Victor Matellano (Wax), which gives top billing to beloved '70s sci-fi and horror icon Caroline Munro in a new supporting role added to the original story. Otherwise it's familiar territory here as we have two sexy creatures of the night prowling the countryside for fresh blood, all tied to a spooky house with a dark secret.
As with the original, this one starts off with a bang as we have our two main predators, Miriam (Léon) and Fran (Flich), locked in a naked sapphic embrace and cutting blood from their fingers as a dying body twitches under the carpet on the floor. The primary source of food for the bloodsuckers is the nearby road where unfortunate motorcyclists and the occasional car driver will slide into a ditch, leaving them vulnerable to a neck slash in the woods or a trip to the ladies' mansion for an evening of bloody fun and games. A sullen guy named John (Rotsa) comes to the area and stays a hotel run by Munro (no character name), who warns him about going out at night and chats about all the recent disappearances. Soon he's fallen into the clutches of the vampires, who also start toying with a trio of campers including a shutterbug, Harriet (Bacorn), who starts to piece together the horrific threat around them.
It's clear that Matellano's heart is in the right place as he goes for a mixture of the poetic and the graphic, never skimping on the nudity or bloodshed. However, the sleepy tone, silicone physiques, and flat digital lensing put this many notches below the original, with the grayish look and low-key performances keeping it at a low boil when it should be exploding into ferocity. The film also makes some substantial changes to the ending, which was mildly muddled in the original but becomes a truly baffling mess here. Fortunately the gore effects are more than up to snuff, largely thanks to British effects artist Colin Arthur (who worked on the original film and collaborated with Munro earlier on The Golden Voyage of Sinbad). All told it's competent and definitely a curiosity if you're a fan of the original, but keep your expectations very, very modest.
Blu-ray and DVD options of this film have been released as a mediabook in Germany, but in the U.S. it's been given a DVD-only option by Artsploitation. Image quality is fine as you'd expect for a film this recent, though in SD it looks even duller and more drab than the underwhelming videography already appears. Audio options for the original English mono are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0, both sounding fine with occasional surround activity. English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are also provided. Extras include a 12-minute making-of featurette (narrated by Jack Taylor!), the trailer, a 3-minute interview with Munro on the set in Madrid, and bonus trailers for Observance, The Fostering, Der Bunker, and The Perfect Husband.