Within the walls of a remote castle writhe a coven of black magic worshipping vampiresses. Naked, save for the odd squiggle of body paint, they go-go the night away to the virtually non-stop, throbbing of mysterious bongo drums.
Invited into this cabal, are the lost heirs to a fortune, confused, intrigued and female. They arrive to an out of time, 18th century world, overseen by the stern faced housekeeper, Wanda Krock. However when a pair of siblings arrive, seeking shelter from a thunderous storm, Fräulein Krock’s true intentions appear to be threatened.
Our German housekeeper, and the flock she commands, well the entire cast to be honest, aren’t masters of very much. While there are occasional moments where you think “that girl really believes she is go-going to Satan” on the whole, the performances are less than inspiring. None of which are helped by what appears to be something less than a complete understanding of the English language.
This is because, the cast is primarily made up of Scandinavian and German porn stars. And hold on, the director is one Joseph Sarno, who is responsible for such gems as Inside Little Oral Annie, Tigresses and Other Man-eaters and my personal favourite, Screw the Right Thing.
Yes, friends, we have entered into the world of the low brow…
Now, I make a habit of knowing as little as possible about a film before I see it, I rarely read synopsises, often going by recommendation, whether I like the cover, or just title alone. I like to think this allows me to view a film on whatever merits it has, or may not have. Just ride with it and take what it gives you.
So you can imagine my surprise as I watched Fräulein Krock raise what looked like a small stone pillar above her head as an offering, before handing it to one of her naked familiars to squat upon.
This was the point where Vampire Ecstasy grabbed my attention, which to be fair was a mere 3 minutes in.
From here it doesn’t really let up, cutting away sometimes at the very last possible moment leading me to believe that in all likelihood, there is a hardcore version of this insane little sleaze pit of a film.
At about 20 minutes in, so convinced was I that this was a UK cut, I stopped it, and did a bit of research. Landing upon a series of images of women sucking off rather realistic looking, multi-racial phallic candles, I decided that there was no way in hell that this shot was in the film currently swinging it’s titties across my screen.
Lo and behold – PENIS CANDLES.
While it’s not often I encounter a prolific director I am completely unfamiliar with, I’ll admit a lack of knowledge in the area of sexploitation and softcore. I know my porno chic/golden age stuff well enough, but never really bothered much with sexploitation and Euro Sleaze. Turns out that Sarno was quite a busy man from the mid 60s to his retirement in the 90s, pumping out over 100 films, both in the US and in Europe, helping to make names for several women in the industry, and even working with droopy faced Christina Lindberg (the world’s fascination with her will always escape me. She was good in Thriller, and that was it. Honestly. I have a taxidermied badger that is more erotic than she is.) Sarno was a bit of a pioneer in the world of softcore sleaze, before settling into the more hardcore, straight to video realms of the ridiculously titled “behind the curtain” fodder. He’s been likened to Russ Meyer and Radley Metzger, celebrated with several retrospectives on recent years and noted for bringing an element of class and style to the genre, helping it to break the shackles of pure sleaze.
While I am throwing around words like “sleaze,” “low brow” and “porn” don’t think that any of that means bad.
Sarno‘s film is anything but “Good Bad.”
Yes, it’s rough around the edges, but there’s flashes of Bava, the nudity is titillating, perhaps over the top, but by no means offensive or strictly there for a 15 year old to get his kicks. Though he absolutely would.
Vampire Ecstasy, is a particular film; strangely enjoyable, and far more watchable than it deserves.
Judging by the clips used in the interview extra, a fair bit of work has been put into this transfer and it shows. It’s grainy and scratchy, but only as it should be. The mud has been cleared, the colours are bright and while it’s not a top of the line Arrow release, who to be quite frank, spoil us rotten, it’s well worth your hard earned cash.
Vampire Ecstasy is available now from Medium Rare