Vampyres is a remake of the 1974 cult classic of the same name (well that was called Vampyres: Daughters of Dracula). I didn't know until after I had watched this, but not only have I watched the original, I also own the darn thing on DVD! It sadly appears I have literally no memories of the original and so this review is basing the new film on it's own merits.
Two lesbian vampires (vampyres?) live in a dilapidated stately home out in the English countryside where they feed off passersby by luring them back to their house. One such man finds himself a prisoner of one of the vampires after either drugged or hypnotised by her. Meanwhile a group of friends have gone camping in the area for a photography project that one of them; Harriet (Veronica Polo) wants to do, but their close proximity to the vampires lair leads to untold horror.
I don't know what the fascination with lesbian vampires is, not to my tastes for sure. I had concerns that due to this being described as full of wild eroticism it would just be an excuse for various cheesy sex scenes, while this is indeed true in part I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of genuine horror here, something that only increased as Vampyres went on. Of the sex scenes there is some partial nudity but they usually devolve into a (sometimes literal) blood bath and I was pleased to see the special effects for the blood letting was quite entertaining. The two vampires have an insatiable thirst for blood meaning with the exception of the man they have captured their victims are usually drained as fast as a Capri-sun. Blood flows freely and their is dashings of the red claret as victims are ripped open and some even get hung upside down and their throat slit for the previously mentioned blood bath. Plenty of throats getting cut open, each one has fun practical effects.
It works as a horror as the vampires actually have powers to them. While they don't have the fangs you would expect they are afraid of sunlight (through dress up in black hooded robes to walk around in it), have no reflection in mirrors, can turn into smoke and have super strength. I wasn't sure if they had powers of hypnotism or if it was the wine they kept feeding their 'guests' that kept them placid. They also display a lack of humanity, later on in the film especially as they torture a girl they have locked up in a cage by threatening to slice off her tongue, laughing away as they do so which certainly adds a sense of unease.
Aside from the needless lesbian angle the other most jarring thing about Vampyres is that it is meant to be set in England yet is blatantly in Spain it was filmed. One early scene in which a man seems surprised that the vampire he has (unknowingly) picked up is not English baffled me as to my mind of course they were not, nor was he, they were not even in that country! Despite mostly being Spanish actors the characters all speak in English, the vampires have Transylvanian accents, yet the majority of the rest of the cast also sound like they have accents not of this country. It is hard to tell what they are like as actors but a few to my ears did sound a bit dodgy to say the least. The original was much the same and being a remake I guess you have to give it a pass, but I don't know why the location wasn't just changed to Spain as it was a bit immersion breaking.
Of special note is the cinematography that is quite excellent. The quality of the film as a whole is very crisp, special effects as I mentioned are decent, and the variety of camera angles and editing is impressive. Even in the scenes I did not like as much I could not fault the camera work or the beautiful look of Vampyres as a whole. The plot was quite basic but with a large amount of victims, and the eventual blending together of the two disparate plots going on this was not really an issue. For someone who was expecting just an excuse for loads of trashy erotic scenes I was happy to find more of what in parts felt like tropes of the slasher genre.
This was a much more enjoyable film than I had expected, if you are after lots of blood in a vampire film then this has all that for you. I do wish the vampires had fangs as for me that is an essential part but overall this is quite a pretty looking film that in terms of film quality at least is a nice alternative to the 46 year old (wow that seems longer ago than it should be!) cult classic. Vampyres is out in America on October 18th on DVD and VOD thanks to Artsploitation Films. Check out the trailer below, though be aware there is some nudity in it...