The Vampire Happening (German: Gebissen wird nur nachts “Bitten at Night”) is a 1971 West German sex comedy and horror film directed by Freddie Francis (The Deadly Bees, Torture Garden, Tales from the Crypt). It stars Pia Degermark and Ferdy Mayne as Count Dracula
In the early 1970s, Italian producer Pier A. Caminnecci was looking for a film for his wife Pia Degermark whose previous film Elvira Madigan (1967) was a critical and financial success. Caminnecci set up an international production for her in West Germany helmed by British director Freddie Francis and written by German screenwriters August Rieger and Karl-Heinz Hummel. Clearly influenced by Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, the script also features a sub-plot based on Theophile Gautier‘s short story “La Morte Amoureuse“.
An American actress inherits a castle in Transylvania. What she does not know is that her ancestor, the Baroness Catali, was in actuality a vampire countess, and emerges from her tomb to ravage the nearby village and Catholic seminary…
“The film is not without merit. It was directed by that well-known veteran Hammer/Amicus director, Freddie Francis, who is also one of the most respected cinematographers of all time. Francis excepted this assignment due to a Hollywood production that went the way of the wind, giving us his most unusual effort (though not his worst film as a director). Most of the toilet humor gets lost in the atrocious dubbing, but Francis is able to mount a handsome production, aided by lavish sets and locations.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In
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In his book Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, author Bruce G. Hallenbeck referred to the film as “sort of a rip-off of Polanski‘s The Fearless Vampire Killers” that “doesn’t come within light years of Polanski’s vision.”