The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck (shortened to The Fearless Vampire Killers; originally titled Dance of the Vampires) is a 1967 British/American comedy horror film directed by Roman Polanski, written by Gérard Brach and Polanski, produced by Gene Gutowski and co-starring Polanski with future wife Sharon Tate. It also stars Jack MacGowran, Alfie Bass and Ferdy Mayne.
The Fearless Vampire Killers was Polanski’s first feature to be photographed in color and using a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film’s striking visual style, with its snow-covered, fairy-tale landscapes, recalls the work of Russian fantasy filmmakers Aleksandr Ptushko and Alexander Rowe. Similarly, the richly textured, moonlit-winter-blue color schemes of the village and the snowy valleys evoke the magical, kaleidoscopic paintings of the great Russian-Jewish artist Marc Chagall, after whom the innkeeper in the film is named.
A noted professor and his dim-witted apprentice (Polanski) fall prey to their inquiring vampires, while on the trail of the ominous damsel in distress…
“The film seems to consist mostly of clonks over the head, stumblings, inane gibberings, kicks in the ass, or in having the erstwhile vampire hunters stake barrels of wine or tripping over coffin lids by accident. The middle of the film is taken up by at least a half-hour of running around the castle that seems to go on forever. It leaves one with sympathies with the distributor’s decision to cut the film.” Richard Scheib, Moria
“Beyond its luminous cinematography and richly bilious production design, there is little of merit in The Fearless Vampire Killers. It is a tedious exercise in self-indulgence, whose few curious strands of Eastern European humour appear to depend for their effect on time and money being spent in disproportionate degree to the quality of the resultant joke.” Denis Meikkle, Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out
“Though only around one hundred minutes in length, the film is an unfortunately bloated-feeling slog, alternating between that dreamy, intoxicating atmosphere and tedious bumbling by its ineffective vampire hunters. Tate and the aesthetic are what will stick in the mind, but the framework around them is not so suited to revisiting.” Josh Slater Williams, Sound on Sight
“Many critics call The Fearless Vampire Killers Polanski’s odd film out, an aberration in his catalog of titles. Nonsense. The cruel ‘the vampires win’ climax adheres strictly to the axiom: no matter how bad you think things might turn out, in a Polanski film, they’ll end up worse.” The Black Box Club
Main cast and characters:
- Jack MacGowran as Professor Abronsius
- Roman Polanski as Alfred, Abronsius’s assistant
- Sharon Tate as Sarah Shagal
- Ferdy Mayne as Count von Krolock
- Ian Quarrier as Herbert von Krolock
- Alfie Bass as Yoine Shagal, the innkeeper
- Terry Downes as Koukol, Krolock’s servant
- Jessie Robins as Rebecca Shagal
- Fiona Lewis as Magda, Shagal’s maid
Fischburg Castle-Castel Gardena, Santa Cristina Valgardena, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy (Castle Krolock)
It has been produced as a musical titled Dance of the Vampires.