Well, what would Halloween be without a little vampire action. They’re creepy, they’re sexy, they’re sparkly…ok, forget the sparkly part. Whether it’s Bela Lugosi or Tom Cruise, people just love those blood suckers. Our vampire today isn’t exactly A-list, however. Today we head to the Philipines for 1964’s The Blood Drinkers.
The fun begins when a vampire called Marco (Ronald Remy) comes to town with his bizarre collection of deformed dwarfs and vampire babes. Marco has an interesting look to him. He’s Kojak bald and has a thing for capes and Bono style sunglasses. He actually looks a bit like Tom Hardy when he played the Picard clone in Star Trek: Nemesis. Marco’s chief concern is his dying lover Katrina (Amalia Fuentes). She is in desperate need of a new heart. As it turns out, Katrina has a sister in the village, Charito (also played by Fuentes), who would make the perfect donor.
Katrina’s natural mother is one of Marco’s servants, but she gave her up when she was an infant. She sets out to bring Katrina under Marco’s control, which includes eliminating the couple that raised her. Gradually, Charito starts to fall under the influence of Marco. Meanwhile, a priest and a group of locals begin to track down the vampires to stop their evil once and for all.
The Blood Drinkers is an odd film that floats back and forth between being quite campy at times, and quite effective at others. On the one hand you have some really cheesy elements. There’s a extremely fake looking bat that keeps showing up, complete with wires attached. Marco’s dwarf henchman has ridiculous snaggletooth makeup and keeps making silly “ooh ooh” noises that sound like a baboon mixed with Gunther Toody from Car 54 Where are You? On the other hand, Marco is a legitimately creepy vampire. Many scenes are effectively eerie and there is a fair degree of creative photography on display.
One of the strangest aspects of the film is it’s color scheme. Many sequences of the film are tinted so that the entire image has a red tint. At times the tint is blue. It all depends on what the vampires are doing and their influence over the other characters in the scene. There are times when this works quite well adding an extra degree of tension to some scenes. At others times, the effect becomes somewhat annoying. I found myself occasionally wondering if the colors were intentional or if something had gone wrong when the film was developed. The use of the color tinting is interesting, but perhaps a bit overused for my taste. Had it been used in moderation I think it would’ve been much more effective.
In the end, The Blood Drinkers both intrigued me and annoyed me. There is a lot of potential here that is only partially realized. Still, I’ll take a bald red and blue-tinted vampire over one who sparkles any day.