Kiss of the Vampire (1963) has plenty of allegory, yay me
Trudging on without Christopher Lee, Hammer Studios made Kiss of the Vampire as an allegory for the poor and destitute, and I didn’t even know this movie existed until a few days ago. Holy cow, where have I been? It’s got allegory and subtext up the ying-yang and I didn’t know anything about it until now. Lucky for me, I was able to catch it on television and judge the symbolism for myself.
It’s kind of funny how the vampire has changed from a symbol for the oppressive, hedonistic aristocracy to one of teen angst. The vampire is the perfect allegory for the rich snob, and they seem like have a different culture in this movie. Moving the vampire into the teen realm rakes in more money, which is what it’s all about, I guess.
The movie is a bit more dark than at first glance. The main characters Marianne and Gerald catch the landlord’s wife crying over a picture, so my first assumption was that a vampire was involved somehow. Not only is the landlord’s kid a vampire, but a few others are vampires too, in a loose cult to decadence. Seducing married men, indulging in drinking all day, and partying at night is typical for these vampire snobs.
After kidnapping Marianne, the vampires use an unusual strategy to trick Gerald. They band together and deny Marianne ever existed in the first place, which drives Gerald crazy. Apparently, these vampires are a smart bunch. They have a cult. They run around in robes. They drink all day and party all night. Can’t be all bad, right? A Van Helsing stand-in helps Gerald out and uncovers the cult’s evil nature. Uh oh, that can’t be good.
The vampires get pissed off and decide to have a blood sacrifice. To Satan. The vampires in this movie can’t decide who they really are. First they’re all rich snobs, then they’re crazy cultists, then they worship Satan. What’s next?
The allegory works in this movie to paint a picture of the social oppression of the poor and sick. There’s a subplot about losing family, and I guess tying the loss to vampires implies that money is the root of all evil, since the vampires represent rich snobs. The commentary goes on and on, and this movie pretty much implies they will believe in anything.
This is one of the better Hammer horror movies, which isn’t saying much, I know. It is choppy and slow in places, and filled with ridiculous stuff. Not only does it have allegory, but it is way in your face about it. The vampires dance around in their evil robes, until the Bats from Hell ™ swoop in to kill them. There’s always something more evil in the world, I guess.
This movie is more watchable than most Hammer horror fare, but I would have preferred mine with a side of Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing. Or both. Instead, I get fake teeth and allegory. Can’t have everything, I guess.