The Vampire and the Ballerina – Italy, 1960 – reviews

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‘Blood-lusting fiend who preys on girls! Vampire-queen who feeds on lifeblood of men!’

The Vampire and the Ballerina – original title: L’amante del vampiro “The Vampire’s Lover” – is a 1960 Italian supernatural horror film directed by Renato Polselli (Mania; Black Magic Rites; Delirium) from a screenplay co-written with Ernesto Gastaldi and Giuseppe Pellegrini. Hélène Rémy, Tina Gloriani and Walter Brandi star.

A troupe of beautiful young dancers find themselves stranded in a sinister, spooky old castle, not knowing that it is home to a group of vampires…

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“Coupled with the smooth direction from Polselli is some really fantastic cinematography that uses lighting and shadow effectively to make this film really come alive, as well as some great locales including the waterfall and the spooky castle. Being an Italian horror film you can also expect a fair amount of eroticism and it is peppered throughout the movie like a trail of candy for you to follow.” The Telltale Mind

“A great deal of footage of people wandering through dark corridors pads out a badly acted and directed movie which verges on sexploitation.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“Don’t confuse this one with The Playgirls and the Vampire. That one is an Italian horror film from the early sixties about a troop of ballerinas being terrorized by a vampire in the form of Walter Brandi. This one, on the other hand, is – uh – an Italian horror film from the early sixties about a troop of ballerinas being terrorized by a vampire in the form of Walter Brandi.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“The Italian language being spoken over subtitles helps it keep that kind of shit arty, adding a neorealist edge to go along with a jazzy score. Theremin-goosed passages of the vamp moments contrast with the diverting muzak-style filler when the composer (or library cue DJ) can’t discern the emotional tenor of a particular scene. Ciao bene!” Erich Kuersten, Acidemic

“The transformed Herman’s prosthetics are rubbery and ineffective, but the sausage fingers and thickly swollen facial features do suggest that, in surrendering to vampire lust, he becomes a kind of grotesquely distended phallus. The film  has a few drawbacks, including the sexy dance troupe’s spontaneous, yet all too obviously rehearsed routines which have a kitsch value, but little else.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic

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“The movie does have plenty of classical style orchestral music endeavoring to make it scary, but in this scene Polselli opts for a more experimentally stylish approach. When they get to the castle it becomes quiet and seemingly more conventional, but the previous jazzy trip through the woods is just fantastic.” Giovanni Susina, At the Mansion of Madness

Hélène Rémy performs well as the resourceful Luisa, who is a bit more aggressive than the average genre heroine in search of protection from a level-headed male […] there is some curiously absorbing black-and-white photography by Angelo Balstrocchi.” Lawrence McCallum, Italian Horror Films of the 1960s

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“It almost seems here as if antiquity has something of value to impart to a modernity preoccupied with spinning folk wisdom into sleazy entertainment (symbolized by jazz dancing) and the rote formation of interpersonal relationships out of allegiance to conformity and the status quo rather than desire or need.” Arbogast on Film

“Overall, The Vampire and the Ballerina is a mixed bag – mostly because no one involved seemed to have a clear idea of what to do with a vampire film […] Polselli and Gastaldi liberally steal from Vampyr, most patently in the “premature burial scene”, which is a shot-by-shot rip-off of Dreyer’s film. However, although the black-and-white photography is suitably atmospheric, Polselli’s technique is crude… ” Roberto Curti, Italian Gothic Films, 1957 – 1969

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“It’s done in the style of a fairground show, with some well-judged horror effects and plot developments that are anything but dull.” La Stampa, 24 May 1960

Main cast:

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Filming locations:

Castello di Passerano (exteriors)
Palazzo Borhese, Artena (interiors)

Image thanks: The Telltale Mind


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