The Horrible Sexy Vampire (El Vampiro De La Autopista)
Director/Screenplay – Jose Luis Madrid, Photography – Francisco J. Madurga, Music – Ariel Atreaga. Production Company – Cinefilms/Fida Cinematografica
Waldemar Wohlfahrt (Count Adolf Oblensky), Barta Barri (Inspector), Susan Carvassal (Susan)
There have been a spate of murders in the small town of Brennitz near Stuttgart. The coroner voices a theory to the police detective that these murders occur on a 28-year cycle and are being caused by a vampire. The two go to the nearby von Winnegar castle to investigate ” only to be killed. Shortly after, Count Oblensky arrives from London, claiming that he is the latest heir of the von Winnegar name. The inheritance stipulates that only he or his wife can enter the castle and that he must never go down to the dungeons. As he settles into the castle, The Count becomes certain of the existence of vampires but the locals dismiss this as alcoholism or mental illness on his part.
Hammer Films cast an enormous shadow over the horror film of the 1960s and 70s. Almost every European country leapt into the fray and created copycat Frankenstein, Dracula and vampire films (usually with far more sexual content that their more staid British counterparts). Amid these, Spain’s The Horrible Sexy Vampire is one largely forgotten entry.
The main problem the film has is its story structure. The title announces that it is a vampire film but the film seems to want to make a big mystery out of it ” first having a detective and a coroner speculate about a vampire being the cause of the killings around the town only for the two of them to disappear after going to the castle; followed by the descendent (played by the improbably named Waldemar Wohlfahrt) moving into the castle and puzzling over the stipulations that require he not bring any visitors into the place or go down into the cellar. Nearly three-quarters of the film is taken up by characters standing around wondering about what is going on when the audience knows from the moment they entered the theatre or the title comes up on screen. Even when the film lets the vampire show up, he is barely even there for a handful of scenes.
Elsewhere, the film is hamstrung by a series of directorial choices that seem baffling. The most ridiculous of these is the decision to have the vampire attack scenes played out by an invisible vampire, something that is as ridiculous as it sounds. Every female characters that turns up throughout is required to take her clothes off either in her introductory scene or a couple of scenes later. Not to mention when the characters start referring to the vampire, it with unintentionally risible effect comes out sounding like they are talking about someone called ‘Baron Vinegar’.
The film gets full marks for its sensationalistic English-language title. It is one that is quite belied by the dreary and unsexy vampire that we do get on display ” at most, we get a handful of unclothed scenes before the girls are attacked. If nothing else, this is at least a step up from the Spanish-language title, which translates as The Vampire on the Freeway/or Highway. The film was peculiarly shot not in Spain but in and around Stuttgart, West Germany and, it would appear, in the middle of winter.
The Horrible Sexy Vampire was made by Jose Luis Madrid who had made a handful of Spanish Western and crime films. Madrid had previously ventured into the horror film with From the Other Side (1965) and subsequently made Jack the Ripper of London/7 Murders for Scotland Yard (1972) and The Crimes of Petiot (1973).