Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

May 28, 2021

The Playgirls and the Vampire (1963) Movie Review

Well, I guess it’s only proper that I get back to finding total crap to review for you all. But I’m not sure if I found it. I’m very conflicted about this next movie.

The Playgirls and the Vampire is a smashing film about five showgirls, their manager, and piano player who get stranded on the backroads during a storm on their way to the next gig. They can’t turn around and go back to their old hotel – not paying your bill can get you in suds with the owners, right? So it’s only logical to ignore the sound advice of a local and take the road that leads to the foreboding castle off in the hills, having to drive over a rickety-ass bridge to get there, too. The people in the castle will just have to let them stay the night, if not longer.

I guess uninvited guests make the rules for individual homeowners…

They arrive at a locked gate but one of the girls, Vera, instinctively knows to try a little side gate that opens for them. Hmm. That’s curious. Oh well. Good for us, right ladies? They force their way into the castle (not literally, but they don’t allow the groundskeeper to turn them away and the housekeeper begrudgingly lets them inside).

The Count Gabor Kernassy wants to kick them out but once he sees Vera, he immediately changes his mind and gives them shelter for the night. BUT DON’T WANDER THE HALLS OR SNOOP INTO ANYTHING, MMMKAY?

You can probably guess how that’s gonna go.

After the Count creepily spies on Vera through her bedroom window, they have a nice heart to heart chat. He’s drawn to her, and she to him, and he must know more about here. BUT MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE FIRST THING IN THE AM ‘CAUSE YOU IN DANGER.

The best laid plans to do just that aside, one of the girls is found dead the following morning. She must have gone wandering (like she was warned NOT to do), lost her footing, and fallen to her death. While the gardener and housekeeper have a weird argument about burying her ASAP, the Count informs them they can’t leave or call the authorities about the accident because the bridge washed out in the rising river waters.

Now that they’re stuck at the castle, much to their manager’s frugal delight, might as well rehearse for the next show. Vera is too upset and takes a rest instead. And by rest, I mean she wanders around the castle where she eventually discovers a portrait of a Kernassy ancestor. And she looks nearly identical to Vera!

She and the Count have another heart to heart – about the Kernassy family curse, how it ruined that ancestor, Margherita, blahdeeblah. And despite his fear for her safety, the Count and Vera make out. She’s now refreshed for some dance rehearsal. 


Don't move. There's a spider on the ceiling...

That night, Vera hears another creeper around her window and when she investigates, she comes across the burial site of the former showgirl. And guess what? It’s empty! WTF? The Count stares at her and when she calls out to him, he Homer Simpson’s his way into some bushes and disappears. The next morning she seeks out the Count to demand an explanation and discovers his secret laboratory. While he’s gob smacked that she actually saw him last night, he explains that during the day things are cool. But at night, she must lock herself in her room and never come out, even if he calls to her from the other side. She can’t trust anything or anyone at night!

You’re all asking ‘why’ right now, aren’t you? Don’t worry. We’re getting to the exposition dump now.

Apparently, this Kernassy curse is born of blood – it drives the family line into darkness, into vampirism. Vera’s friend was murdered, so he dug up her body. He’s been conducting experiments to rid his family of this awful affliction so no one else will get hurt. BUT DON’T TELL ANYONE, MMMKAY? It’s our little secret.

Finally, the river waters subside and another bridge is available so the ladies and gentlemen can get the hell out of dodge in the morning. Which is good because the murdered showgirl showed up in the manager’s room last night and freaked him the fuck out. While everyone thinks he had a nightmare, Vera experiences a little freaky-deaky evening herself.

Someone who looks exactly like the Count attacks her – as a vampire! But she finds herself in bed, the housekeeper explaining she was feverish all night. It was all just a nightmare. After you rest, you can leave. Once packed, Vera runs into the count and, naturally, the nightmare resurfaces and she runs away from him.

Only to run into him again on the other side of the castle. But this count is pale, and has fangs, and IS A VAMPIRE! Ooooh, that’s not the count. It’s his ancestor who is a vampire. He’s the one who attacked and killed the other showgirl because he thought she was Vera (she was wearing Vera’s coat at the time). Seems Vera looks like his long-dead wife, so he plans to make HER a vampire and be with him forever.

Make sense?

The Count just can’t kill the guy. That’s why he’s been working on finding a cure for the Kernassy Kurse ™. Unfortunately, the other guy wants none of that and they fight to the death. The Count defeats his ancestor, surprisingly, and now there’s nothing keeping him tied to the crumbly old castle. He can tie up a few loose ends and meet up with Vera where they can be together.

*aaand scene*


Mourning underwear is just that - UNDERwear, you trollop.

While I can’t say this is a good film, I can’t definitively say it’s bad, either. It had a bit of both worlds going on so it came out somewhere in the *shrug* category.

I have to admit, the opening shot of the film is gorgeous. It’s simple – a slow pan from a small high window, where light is streaming through, down through an underground crypt and settling on a tomb. Suddenly, the lid slides back a bit, then a bit more, until a hand slowly reaches out and feels its way over the stone. If the film were in color, that opening sequence would have been more lackluster. I can’t explain why, but that’s just what I think.

The music is fantastic, but it strangely doesn’t fit the movie. Where you’d think there should be more subtle tones, it blares out. Where it should be sweeping and dramatic, the music seems more fitting for a Keystone Cops chase scene. It’s very odd.

There is enough character development for the viewer to become somewhat invested in what they do, or what happens to them. But mostly I didn’t really care, because the majority of the characters are supposed to be shallow or buffoonish. We understand the showgirl victim is vain and rather superficial, but then we don’t care that she’s murdered. The manager is a cheap-ass bumbling idiot, so when he’s in danger, we just yawn and wait for the conflict to end.

Does that make sense?

It was also pretty obvious that the reason the characters are showgirls is for, at some point, the women to dance around and strip – which is exactly what happens a little before the halfway point. I’m not sure where they got the girl to do the solo strip but she had to have been blackmailing someone in the production. It was the most lackadaisical, boring, non-sexy strip tease I’ve ever seen. Not that I have a ton of experience in that department, but I appreciate the female figure and am not offended by nudity or titillation. I just felt a bit awkward, and mostly bored, during this scene.

I did appreciate the chemistry between the Count and Vera, as conflicted as it was (the Count kept warning Vera away because his family sucks but they just can’t stop making out). Walter Brandi was the superior actor to Lyla Rocco. I’m sure the English dubbing didn’t help her, but she kept looking off screen as she spoke, like she was reading cue cards or something.

Quite a bit of predictability with the characters and the story – EXCEPT for the twist at the end, with the vampire reveal. I honestly didn’t see that coming and it was quite refreshing to be surprised. Again, Walter Brandi played both parts well so you could feel the two different characters, not just one guy switching suits. Unfortunately, when the vampire is killed, the ‘special effects’ used for his decay and destruction are just awful. Very cartoonish, and the transitions were choppy.

So overall, the film has ups and downs, good and bad. It’s not great, but I ended up enjoying it more than I thought. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-see film, but if you like vampires, Italians, and black and white movies from the 60s, why not check it out?


2.5 hatchets (out of 5)






Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed:

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.

No comments:

Post a Comment