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The Fearless Vampire Killers (Blu-ray Review)

Warner Archive Collection is a brand to follow when it comes to physical media releases. Rivaling that of reveals from Arrow Video, Criterion Collection and Vinegar Syndrome, we know when in the month that their upcoming titles will be announced but what they will be is an intriguing mystery. And given how large the catalog of Warner Bros (And New Line) is, it could be any number of things. Being that its October, horror is the overwhelming theme with the Blu-ray titles. One of those titles this month is the Roman Polanski comedy, The Fearless Vampire Killers or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck. Which…its just typically called The Fearless Vampire Killers which is a weird little horror comedy he did right after Cul-de-Sac and just before Rosemary’s Baby. You’ll be able to sink your teeth into this fresh new Blu-ray by ordering from the link at the bottom of the review as it is now available having been released on October 29th.

Film 

This sly and stylish Sixties send-up of Hammer-style horror turns genre conventions on their side while shooting straight for the jugular. Expelled from the ivory towers of the academy thanks to his unassailable belief in the ways and means of Nosferatu, the somewhat inept Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) picks up mousey assistant Alfred (Roman Polanski), and tries to go pro. On the hunt for Count von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne), the pair take up the defense of the semi-dressed damsel-in-distress Sarah (Sharon Tate). But in this turned around tale of stakes and slapstick, it just might be the vampires who are the most civilized.

Roman Polanski was making a name for himself with his evocative, experimental abstract horror thrillers in the latter half of the 1960s. The Fearless Vampire Killers sees him taking that genre and playing it for comedy. Around this time was the reign of the Hammer Horror, Amicus and AIP productions. The film clearly has its foot in the gothic stylings of those as the set dressing to go ahead and poke some fun around the bend.

The Fearless Vampire Killers is a pretty quirky little horror film, with a comedy tone all its own and one that you have to get into the same tune with in order to work. Plus, its a bit dated and region specific with its laughs as well. Overall, its more of a hit and miss affair and feels a little longer than it needed to be. Its also very much a majority shot in a studio film. It looks and plays very artificial at any given turn in the film.

One big mark of significance on this film is that it features Sharon Tate in one of her few roles as she was on the rise to becoming a superstar in Hollywood. Its a small but significant part in the film and you can really get a sense that she had the complete “it factor” package and could command a frame just by wandering in it. I’m not sure whether this film was where she and Polanski began seeing each other or if it happened before this and its why she’s here, but the movie is better for having her in it. And overall, its a decent little bit of something for people to wander back and discover.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Fearless Vampire Killers arrives on Blu-ray with an absolutely terrific transfer that showcases plenty of details in every frame with great attention tot he definition and sharpness of the image. There some really impressive clean shots occurring throughout the movie which shows how good the materials used were or that they just did a loving job in transferring it over to Blu-ray. There’s a lot of intentionally foggier and softer moments here and there but the well defined sharpness tends to get on through.

Depth: Good spacing and depth of field on display between backgrounds and foreground showing well in many of the rear projection shots in the film. Movements are smooth and cinematic with no motion distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and kept to the more natural side of things without taking away any detail. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty well saturated and the right textures tend to pop and be striking in the most natural way possible. Reds, blues and greens come through quite nicely and there are good shades and tints to the whites overall.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures are discernible from any reasonable distance/camera shot.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Fearless Vampire Killers features a pretty terrific mono track that is in good shape, with a clear, well balanced and mixed track. It has some nice layering and depth to it as you get a very clean experience when watching the film with some good atmosphere and effects while slightly lagging int he LFE department.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, in pretty good condition with no real strong analog presence in the vocal mixture.

Extras 

Vampires 101 (SD, 10:21) – A little off kilter promotional thing from the time the film was released featuring a vampire tips as well as some clips from the movie.

Alternate Main Title (HD, 4:01) 

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:14)

Summary 

The Fearless Vampire Killers is a quirky little romp that hits and misses but overall gives a unique vampire experiences. Warner Archive Collection provides a handful of nice extras to go along with a pretty terrific presentation with a nice, lovely looking transfer and rock solid audio to accompany it.

Paid Link.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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