The Vampire Lovers has aged less well than many of Hammer's classics, coming as it did at the beginning of the downward spiral for the studio. Most keenly felt is the loss of production genius Bernard Robinson, who could whip up a convincing steamer port, Tibetan village or vampire castle on tiny soundstages seemingly overnight. With Robinson gone the film has a shoddier look, with recycled sets, painfully painted backdrops and 'period' locations with modern 60s metal fences.
One of the problems with latter-day Hammer films is they feel like the product of an earlier decade. Over forty years later it's all moot of course, but again this hastened the company's downfall. The Vampire Lovers certainly feels like a film that came out in nineteen sixty ten.
Anyway, on the other hand it has gorgeous vamp Ingrid Pitt seducing gorgeous vamp victim Madeleine Smith, reliable old hands Peter Cushing, Douglas Wilmer and George Cole, and an enjoyable amount of nudity and old-school gore.
Jim Drew watched
Viewing slightly dulled by having to pause to watch Carlton of Bel Air dancing on the telly. How can you compete with that? (You can't)
Nevertheless this is a fun wacky (racers) yarn that is part soap opera part action thriller. Because it's from India, we get some cool musical numbers too. It might also be the twistiest thing I'll see all year. Though I plan on watching the sequel tomorrow.
The story concerns two brothers, a love triangle and all the carnage that occurs because of it. The female characters are poorly drawn but the pace is pretty unrelenting.
The cast are solid, if unspectacular. The only performer I would single out for ridicule is Ryan Gosling, who sounded like he was going in to audition for the Three Stooges movie and walked into the wrong office on the day.
The actors are all talented stars, they were just never given anything to get their teeth into, as the films is pitched at a level that felt a little too detached from reality. Not that strict realism is called for; Gangster Squad aspires to be The Untouchables, not The Godfather, but even De Palma's minor classic had characters and not archetypes. When Elliott Ness' men died, you felt the toll of their mission, and Gangster Squad just never reaches that level.
Russell Hainline watched
If all of the nighttime action had been set during the day, I'd be prepared to toss the word "classic" out into the world. Instead, it's merely the best of the franchise, jam packed with action, one-liners, quick pacing, macho posturing, and barely intelligible muttering about family. Awesome.