According to several sources León Klimovsky was born in Buenos-Aires, Argentina on October 16, 1906, and directed his first feature, SE LLAMBABA CARLOS GARDEL in 1949. Having dabbled with the comedy, thriller, western, and war genres, Klimovsky made the first of a dozen horror films in 1971, LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS a film that introduced Paul Naschy (Jacinto Molina) to the role of the werewolf, Waldemar Daninsky. Klimovsky followed up with its sequel DR JEKYLL Y EL HOMBRE LOBO, (1972), and two further horrors that same year; LA REBELION DE LAS MUERTAS and, what is arguably the first post-modernist vampire film, LA SAGA DE LOS DRACULA.
Staying with the subject of vampires, Klimovsky directed THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY (aka LA ORGÍA NOCTURNA DE LOS VAMPIROS) in 1973. The film begins with a coach carrying domestic servants to their new employment positions at a countryside estate in Bojoni. When the driver suffers a heart attack, the travellers find themselves forced to take refuge in a hotel in the secluded village of Tolnia nearby. The party meet up with a tourist, Louis (Jack Taylor), who is happy to have some company as the village appears to be deserted, but the following morning, both the hotel and village appear to be thriving with villagers. The guests settle down for a feast in the hotel and when there isn’t enough food to go round, a huntsman called Gigante (Fernando Bilbao) is sent out for the main course, which turns out to be the severed leg of a villager.
It transpires that the village is presided over by a vampire Countess (Helga Liné) whose feral-like form is unveiled when she attempts to seduce a young man called Caesar (David Aller). From here on in, the travellers find themselves picked off one by one in a series of atmospheric attacks that take place at night.
With its remote setting, and village presided over by an aristocratic authoritarian Major (Jose Guardiola) the plot can be seen as an inferior hybrid of Hardy’s THE WICKER MAN (1974) and the “Midnight Mess” segment from Roy Ward Baker’s THE VAULT OF HORROR (1973). Yet, whilst not quite up to the gory standards of Klimovsky’s LA REBELION DE LAS MUERTAS (1972), UNA LIBÉLULA PARA CADA MUERTO, (1974), and VIOLACION FATAL (1978), THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY does come into its own with several suspenseful scenes that involve the travellers being stalked in the darkened streets of Tolnia. There is also an eerie cemetery sequence in which a small girl (Sarita Gil), who, having escaped from the ghouls, subsequently finds herself entombed, that would have made Jean Rollin proud. The film also benefits from the moody cinematography of Antonio Lopez Ballesteros (GLI OCCHI FREDDI DELLA PAURA aka COLD EYES OF FEAR).
As he had done with his two previous vampire flicks, Klimovsky once more injects a dose of black humour into proceedings: Hero, Louis is a peeping Tom. The aforementioned seduction scene between the Countess and her young suitor is accompanied by a pop song containing the sounds of a couple humping and moaning, and the editing process involves rapid cutting from scenes of severed limbs to shots of prepared meat. The dialogue is, likewise, comical; when one of the diners has unwittingly eaten the remains of a human he remarks “I’ve never tasted anything like it,” to which another replies “If it’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that!”. Another hilarious moment involves the early sequence where the coach driver suffers a heart attack; despite the fact that the bus careers badly across the road the travellers seem quite oblivious to the fact with one guy still absorbed in his newspaper.
With its alluring cast that includes Euro beauties Dianik Zurakowska and Helga , and with a title promising nocturnal naughtiness, horror buffs could be forgiven for believing that this “unrated” feature from Eclectic would be frock-full of lusty shenanigans with abundant nudity to boot. Alas this release is from the alternative “soft” version, shot to appease the Spain’s repressive government under Francisco Franco, replacing several nude scenes featuring Zurakowska and Liné with shots of them wearing clothing. The original bedroom sequence where a topless Dianik Zurakowska brushes her hair whilst being spied on from behind a hole in the wall by Jack Taylor is substituted by one in which she wears a flimsy nightdress. Likewise, Liné’s nude encounter with David Aller is replaced with footage of her wearing black lingerie. Surprisingly a later shot of Zurakowska, that appears just after César falls prey to Tolnia’s flesh-eating ghouls, features her topless whilst the more explicit version has her clothed.
Of further disappointment is the fact that that this transfer is taken from a print with a shortened running time of approximately 80 minutes, (a previous print available on NTSC VHS from Sinister Cinema clocked in at 81m, 27s, whilst rumours list the original version’s running time on the Spanish Divisa video release as 109 minutes).
Like their previous releases, Eclectic’s no thrills DVD has no extras but it does, reportedly, represent a vast improvement on image quality over the previous “hard” versions on videotape, and the recent US DVD release from Alpha Video. UK buyers would probably prefer to stick with the Region 2 Pagan release that features the same print as this one, but for US readers with Region 1 machines the Eclectic DVD is the one to go for.
Carl T. Ford
Directed by León Klimovsky
Spain / 1973 / 80 minutes.
All region. Dolby Mono
THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY