FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD (1969) Reviews and overview

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Fangs of the Living Dead is a 1969 Spanish-Italian horror film written and directed by Amando de Ossorio (Demon Witch Child; The Loreley’s Grasp; the Blind Dead series).

The movie stars Anita Ekberg, Rossana Yanni and Julian Ugarte (All the Colours of the Dark; The Mark of the Wolfman). The film is also known as Malenka la vampireMalenka: la nipote del vampiroMalenka: la sobrina del vampiro and The Vampire Girl.

There are two alternative endings for the film, a rationale-type ending in which the vampire turns out to be a hoax, and a supernatural ending.

Some of the soundtrack score by Carlo Savina (Lisa and the Devil; The Legend of Blood Castle; Naked You Die) was later recycled in Night of the Damned (1971).

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Italian fashion model Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) is delighted to discover that she’s inherited not only the noble title of Countess, but she has also inherited a castle located in Germany. She excitedly calls her fiance Piero (Gianni Medici) to tell him that she’s going to travel to view the castle. Once there, Sylvia visits a local inn, where she announces her destination and relation to the castle’s inhabitants – which horrifies the townspeople.

Unswayed by the townspeople’s reactions, Sylvia arrives at the castle and meets her uncle, the Count Walbrooke (Julian Ugarte), and beds down for the night.

She is later awakened by the maidservant Blinka (Adriana Ambesi), who warns her that Walbrooke is a century-old vampire that means her harm. Blinka’s attempts to draw Sylvia out of bed and out of the castle are interrupted by Walbrooke, who takes her into another room and whips her. Sylvia pleads with him to stop, only for Walbrooke to reveal that Blinka herself is also a vampire…


Malenka does have a lovely Hammer-via-Paul Naschy atmosphere, and is on the whole at least aesthetically pleasing […] It must be said that most of the humour arising from the movie is unintentional, but it’s still a modest pleasure to watch Ossorio’s first attempt in the genre he’d later be loved for.” A Different Screen

“The color, production and ladies are nice on the eyes but this is an exercise in tedium. Anyway, fangs for the mammaries, Anita.” John Stanley, Creature Features

Fangs of the Living Dead marks an inauspicious genre debut for de Ossorio…” Lawrence McCallum, Italian Horror Films of the 1960s

” …Crudely strung together and seems unsure of how intentionally funny it’s meant to be. Indeed, at times it seems like little more than a hotly contested battle of heaving bosoms, Yanni bolstering already pneumatic mix of Ekberg, Ambesi and Lorys.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic

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“It’s not as sleazy as the wave of Spanish horror to come and there’s very little of the free-flowing sangria, if you know what I mean. Fangs… is filled instead with moments of clunky, inappropriate comedy, such as the meeting between an Italian swinger and Blinka the dungeon wench. “But I’m a vampire”, she says, to which he replies, “I love exotic women!” Schlock Treatment

Choice dialogue:

Max: “And you’re a case of a psychotic bore!”

Cast and characters:

Anita Ekberg as Malenka / Sylvia Morel
Gianni Medici [as John Hamilton] as Doctor Piero Luciani
Diana Lorys as Bertha Zemis
Adriana Ambesi as Blinka
Rosanna Yanni as Freya Zemis – Count Dracula’s Great Love; Mark of the Wolfman
César Benet as Max (as Guy Robers)
Carlos Casaravilla as Doctor Horbinger
Fernando Bilbao as Vladis the Coachman
Paul Müller as Doctor Albert
Adriana Santucci as The Count’s Maid
Aurelia Treviño as Village Woman
Juanita Ramírez as Brugard the Barmaid
Julián Ugarte as Uncle / Count Walbrooke – All the Colours of the Dark; Mark of the Wolfman
Keith Kendal as Man

Filming locations:

Castillo de Butrón, Gatika, Biscay, Spain (castle of the Walbrooks)
La Alberca, Salamanca, Castilla y León, Spain (mountain village)
San Martín de Valdeiglesias, Madrid, Spain (Some exteriors and partial shots of the castle walls)
Piazza Navona, Rome, Lazio, Italy (facade of the Elisabetta lab where Doctor Piero Luciani works)

Original title:

Malenka, la sobrina del vampire “Malenka, the Vampire’s Neice’

Production and release: 

Filmed in the summer of 1968. The movie had its world premiere on 23 July 1969 in Italy and was released in Spain in August of the same year.

Film Facts:

An alternate supernatural ending was added to the English-language version of the film, in which the uncle disintegrates into a skeleton at the end, apparently indicating that he really was a vampire and contradicting the rest of the film.

Boris Karloff was initially approached to star in the film, but he apparently turned down the role following contractual wrangles.

Some image credits: The Latarnia Forums

Soundtrack main theme:

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