Saturday, May 23, 2015
Horror films were banned by Italian Fascists for decades, but when Riccardo Freda pledged to produce a chiller in only 12 days that would squeak by the censors, the first Italian horror film of the sound era was born. A reporter (Dario Michaelis) investigating the serial murders of young Parisian girls (attributed to a killer known as “The Vampire”) becomes involved with an old duchess and her beautiful niece (Gianna Maria Canale). He eventually unearths a fiendish plot involving virgin blood and some truly demented assistants. Shot in black-and-white CinemaScope by Mario Bava, who took over direction when Freda stormed off the set, the film (released under numerous titles, including Lust of the Vampire) anticipates volumes of Euro Horror—with a rapid aging sequence that predates David Bowie’s in The Hunger by a quarter-century.