Argentina’s first vampire film attempts to cash in on the popularity of sexploitation trash, with ridiculous close ups of breast biting, topless go-go dancing, and suspender clad thighs in what proves to be a laughable but ultimately disappointing entry in the vampire genre.
The film starts interestingly enough with a pre-credits sequence in which Gustavo (Ricardo Baueleo) asks his blonde, buxom lover, Ofelia (Susana Beltran), to choose between him and her cousin Eduardo the man to whom she is set to wed. Ofelia offers Gustavo an ultimatum she will stay with him on the condition that he meets her aristocratic parents, Gustavo refuses and so Ofelia chooses to marry her fiancée, prompting Gustavo to vow “They’ll never keep you from me!”. On the night of the wedding a fanged Gustavo enters the bridal suite and plunges a dagger through Eduardo’s neck, before advancing upon a terrified Ofelia and biting her breast. Following her burial, Gustavo resurrects his vampire bride, and the two walk off together as the titles roll.
The film switches to a swinging 60s club where women remove their bras and cavort to the delight of their garishly dressed boyfriends. One guy wearing huge plastic joke-shop glasses (played by the film’s producer Orestes Trucco) ogles the jiggling jugs of one reveller before making a lunge for them with his slobbering lips. With voyeuristic camera-work, more suited to a 60s grind-house showpiece, we follow the party as they make way to a ski resort, break down and are forced to spend the night in an empty chateau, it transpires that this deserted building was once the home of Ofelia and her vampire lover, and that night the vampires return to prey on the young hippies.
Vieyra’s fondness for detective style exploitation thrillers; DETRAS DE LA MONTIRA / “Behind the Lie” (1962), PLACER SANGRIENTO / “Deadly Organ”, and LA VENGANZA DEL SEXO / “The Curious Dr Hump” (1966), is evident in the second half of this crazed film, as one of the party attempts to discover why his girlfriend has fallen ill and how she came to obtain two strange holes in her neck. Lucky for him it’s the neck, as our vampire friend delights in sucking upon a pair of different mounds when encountering most of his female victims. Interspersed with psychedelic flashbacks of un-erotic snogging, tinted red seagulls (presumably meant to stand in for bats), and breaking traditional vampire lore by having its monsters wander about in sunlight (enabling the production to save on expensive night-time camera-set-ups), BLOOD OF THE VIRGINS reminds one of a sub-standard Jean Rollin feature, void of the arty visuals and inventive scripts that make the Frenchman’s work enjoyable.
Some reviewers have incorrectly pointed out that despite its shortcomings, BLOOD OF THE VIRGINS was the first film to feature vampires and nudity, but in fact the USA got there as early as 1962 with Robert L. Frosts’s HOUSE ON BARE MOUNTAIN – a nudie/horror flick due a DVD release from Something Weird soon. Nevertheless, fans of ‘mondo’ horror with a penchant for busty females will delight in the nude scenes featuring Susana Beltran, and camera zoom shots that focus on the ample charms of a cast that includes Vieyra regular Gloria Prat. This Mondo Macabro release is a nice bright coloured print that does justice to several gory highlights (the film’s fusion of sex and blood resulted in its home countries banning for seven films) and is supplemented with an informative documentary on Argentian exploitation films that includes a great interview with screen goddess Isabele Sarli (Miss Argentina 1955) and abundant nude clips from her movies that include THUNDER AMONG THE LEAVES (1956), FUEGO (1968) and FIBRE (1972).
Carl T. Ford
Directed by Emilio Vieyra
Spanish language with optional English Subtitles
Argentina / 1967 / 75 minutes.
SPECIAL DVD FEATURES
A Mondo Macabro DVD release
All region. PAL. Dolby Digital Stereo.
BLOOD OF THE VIRGINS (aka Sangre de Virgenes)