Fangs of the Living Dead is a 1968 [released 1969] Spanish-Italian horror film written and directed by Amando de Ossorio (Demon Witch Child; The Loreley’s Grasp; the Blind Dead series). It stars Anita Ekberg, Rossana Yanni and Julian Ugarte. The film is also known as Malenka la vampire, Malenka: la nipote del vampiro, Malenka: la sobrina del vampiro and The Vampire Girl.
There are two alternative endings for the film, a rationale-type ending in which the vampire turns out to be a hoax, and a supernatural ending.
The musical score by Carlo Savina was later recycled for Night of the Damned (1971).
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Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) is delighted to discover that she’s inherited not only the noble title of Countess, but she has also inherited a castle located in the country. She excitedly calls her fiance Piero (Gianni Medici) to tell him that she’s going to travel to view the castle. Once there, Sylvia visits a local inn, where she announces her destination and relation to the castle’s inhabitants – which horrifies the townspeople.
Unswayed by the townspeople’s reactions, Sylvia arrives at the castle and meets her uncle, the Count Walbrooke (Julian Ugarte), and beds down for the night.
She is later awakened by the maidservant Blinka (Adriana Ambesi), who warns her that Walbrooke is a century-old vampire that means her harm. Blinka’s attempts to draw Sylvia out of bed and out of the castle are interrupted by Walbrooke, who takes her into another room and whips her. Sylvia pleads with him to stop, only for Walbrooke to reveal that Blinka herself is also a vampire…
“Malenka does have a lovely Hammer-via-Paul Naschy atmosphere, and is on the whole at least aesthetically pleasing […] It must be said that most of the humour arising from the movie is unintentional, but it’s still a modest pleasure to watch Ossorio’s first attempt in the genre he’d later be loved for.” A Different Screen
“The color, production and ladies are nice on the eyes but this is an exercise in tedium. Anyway, fangs for the mammaries, Anita.” John Stanley, Creature Features
“Fangs of the Living Dead marks an inauspicious genre debut for de Ossorio…” Lawrence McCallum, Italian Horror Films of the 1960s
” …Crudely strung together and seems unsure of how intentionally funny it’s meant to be. Indeed, at times it seems like little more than a hotly contested battle of heaving bosoms, Yanni bolstering already pneumatic mix of Ekberg, Ambesi and Lorys.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic
“It’s not as sleazy as the wave of Spanish horror to come and there’s very little of the free-flowing sangria, if you know what I mean. Fangs… is filled instead with moments of clunky, inappropriate comedy, such as the meeting between an Italian swinger and Blinka the dungeon wench. “But I’m a vampire”, she says, to which he replies, “I love exotic women!” Schlock Treatment
Max: “And you’re a case of a psychotic bore!”
Cast and characters:
- Anita Ekberg as Malenka / Sylvia Morel
- Gianni Medici [as John Hamilton] as Dr. Piero Luciani
- Diana Lorys as Bertha Zemis
- Adriana Ambesi as Blinka
- Rosanna Yanni as Freya Zemis – Count Dracula’s Great Love; Mark of the Wolfman
- César Benet as Max (as Guy Robers)
- Carlos Casaravilla as Dr. Horbinger
- Fernando Bilbao as Vladis the Coachman
- Paul Müller as Dr. Albert
- Adriana Santucci as The Count’s Maid
- Aurelia Treviño as Village Woman
- Juanita Ramírez as Brugard the Barmaid
- Julián Ugarte as Uncle / Count Walbrooke – All the Colours of the Dark; Mark of the Wolfman
- Keith Kendal as Man
Butrón castle, Gatika, Biscay, Spain
La Alberca, Salamanca, Castilla y León, Spain
San Martín de Valdeiglesias, Madrid, Spain
Rome, Lazio, Italy
The movie had its world premiere on 23 July 1969 in Italy and was released in Spain in August of the same year.
An alternate supernatural ending was added to the English-language version of the film, in which the uncle disintegrates into a skeleton at the end, apparently indicating that he really was a vampire and contradicting the rest of the film.
Boris Karloff was initially approached to star in the film, but he turned down the role following contractual wrangles.
Image credits: The Latarnia Forums