THE VAMPIRE HAPPENING (1971) Reviews and overview

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‘A satyrical horror comedy of a beautiful woman with bizarre tastes’

The Vampire Happening is a 1971 West German comedy horror film directed by Freddie Francis (The Deadly Bees, Torture GardenTales from the Crypt). The original title is Gebissen wird nur nachts “Bitten Only At Night”

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The film stars Pia Degermark and Ferdy Mayne (The Vampire Lovers; The Horror Star; Howling II) as Count Dracula.


In 1970, Italian producer Pier A. Caminnecci was looking for a film for his wife Pia Degermark, whose previous film Elvira Madigan (1967) was a critical and financial success. Caminnecci set up an international production for her written by German screenwriters August Rieger and Karl-Heinz Hummel.

Clearly influenced by Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killerswhich also starred Ferdy Mayne as Count von Krolock, the script also features a sub-plot based on Theophile Gautier’s short story “La Morte Amoureuse”.

The lounge soundtrack was provided by Jerry van Rooyen.



An American actress inherits a castle in Transylvania. What she does not know is that her ancestor, the Baroness Catali, was in actuality a vampire countess, and emerges from her tomb to ravage the nearby village and Catholic seminary…


“Francis accepted this assignment due to a Hollywood production that went the way of the wind, giving us his most unusual effort (though not his worst film as a director). Most of the toilet humor gets lost in the atrocious dubbing, but Francis is able to mount a handsome production, aided by lavish sets and locations.” DVD Drive-In


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” …this delivers some unsubtle laughs, a significant number of breasts, and a severely anti-clerical stance. The last of these, when combined with the hallucinatory sex imagery, left me wondering if Francis (now best known as an Oscar-winning cinematographer) had been possessed by the spirit of Ken Russell during shooting.” Trash City

“The tone is that of a German sex comedy, with a gay air steward being symbolically hanged, a bare-arsed vampire monk struggling to get at various bare-breasted over-age schoolgirls, and a family retainer saying: “I’m getting completely mixed-up” prior to breaking the fourth wall with “I’ll bet you are, too.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic

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“This movie does have a certain amount of surreal imagery to give it flavor, and those who like lots of sex and nudity with their vampire flicks will find it more than satisfying. Me, I found it really hard to get past the fact that I found it thoroughly unfunny; with the exception of one line from Dracula (played by Ferdy Mayne) which references a well-known horror actor, I didn’t laugh once.” Fantastic Movie Musings & Ramblings




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In his book Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, author Bruce G. Hallenbeck referred to the film as “sort of a rip-off of Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers” that “doesn’t come within light-years of Polanski’s vision.”


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