Hammer loved their vampires. If they weren’t making film after film about the prince of darkness they were making ‘spin-offs’ in the hope of capturing the same magical popularity of Dracula. The Kiss of the Vampire is one such film that bears many of the hallmarks of the Hammer’s Count series but tries something a little different.
Just a little though, vampire movies didn’t have much in the way of imagination after a while.
Originally going to be the third film in the Dracula series, it saw Hammer utilise elements of another non-Christopher Lee vamp movie, Brides of Dracula. It expands on the idea of vampirism being a social disease afflicting those who choose a decadent lifestyle.
The Kiss of the Vampire (also known as Kiss of Evil) was directed by Don Sharp and stars Edward de Souza & Jennifer Daniel.
They are a honeymooning couple spending some in time Bavaria. A local member of the upper-class society called Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman) takes a shine to Jennifer Daniel’s Marianne. He’s so taken in by her that he has her kidnapped by his followers revealing them to be a vampire cult. Ravna wants to make her part of the cult so has those around her husband, Gerald (de Souza) try to convince him that she never actually existed!
As absurd as that might appear they actually do a great job of almost convincing him. That is until Gerald meets Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans) who also lost a loved one to the cult. Together the pair make a plan to rescue Marianne and destroy the vampires once and for all.
A forgettable vampire horror, The Kiss of the Vampire is inoffensive & sees Hammer playing it very safe. Characters are bland & forgettable, none more so then the head vampire himself. It’s not that Noel Willman does a poor job, it’s just that he lacks charisma or comes across as an oppressive figure. The rest of the cast don’t exactly fare much better with only Clifford Evans really throwing his all into it. Probably seeing as he’s this movies Van Helsing.
Plot-wise, The Kiss of the Vampire is slow in parts and rushed in others. The pacing is all over the place and it feels very incomplete.
This is made all the worse if you see the butchered American released version, Kiss of Evil. So much of the original film was trimmed off for its initial television screening that more footage had to be shot to fill the missing time!
At least the UK version hung onto the blood & more gruesome moments. Stuff that is very tame by today’s standard but packed a punch once.
Unless you’re trying to see every Hammer Horror ever or every vampire film there is little reason to bother with The Kiss of the Vampire. It’s ineffective, barely leaving a mark let alone breaking the skin.
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The Kiss of the Vampire
The Final Score - 5/10