In an abandoned manor, two female vampires pick up those who are unfortunate enough to wander down the road near their lair. Fran and Miriam are interested in more than just feasting and use their victims to satisfy their lust and sadomasochistic tendencies as well.
For all the immediate knee-jerk reactions that remakes bring these days, it’s surprising that Victor Matellano’s remake of the 1974 film, “Vampyres”, has managed to fly under the radar. Maybe because even for a cult movie, José Larraz’s film wasn’t quite sexy enough to compete with the erotic-horror films coming out of France at the time. Yet, at the same time, it was a bit too sexy for Spanish/British title that was more akin to favor the more gothic-based horror films from Hammer.
And by no means is “Vampyres” obscure or underrated. It eventually found its audience but, in my opinion, it still exists as this awkward middle-child when it comes to ‘70s horror movies.
Regardless, it is interesting to see that someone was willing to remake a film like “Vampyres” but of course the question becomes: do you simply modernize the story or try to make the remake its own thing? Oddly, Victor Matellano attempts to do both. The general storyline is the same with the premise being about two female vampires driven by blood and lust. There are a few small changes here and there — young couple camping have been replaced by three friends and a subplot about a tavern owner (played by Caroline Munro) was added.
Trying to do both is undoubtedly a difficult task but there’s something in that approach that makes it feel like there’s sincerity in the project — that there’s a desire to pay tribute and not merely remake a film. However, the problem that remakes (or soft-reboots) have is that they tasked with teh responsibility to elevate the original material. The thought process behind this kind of work ought to be: this is good but with the available resources we have now we can improve upon the original. Magellan’s film does not do that.
This modern take on “Vampyres” is passible which is about the biggest compliment I can give it. It’s not unwatchable or overtly terrible, but it is forgettable. Which is probably the worst thing you can say about any more or any piece of media for that matter. For me, my issues with the original film is that the storylines of Fran and Miriam do not intertwine with John and Harriett’s at all and there’s no thrust in the movie. There’s a similar problem with Matellano’s film as well. He does attempt to work them into one another a bit more and actually have the characters’ presence affect the others, but it’s never effective enough to give reason or motivation. Once again it comes across as though you’re following to separate stories that are forced together near the end because that’s what needs to happen.
There’s a similar problem with the subplot with the tavern owner (Caroline Munro) and a mysterious scythe wielding character (Antonio Mayans). These two characters — especially Munro’s — are used as a form of misdirection in attempt to get the viewer to believe that there’s more going on. Yet, they have no real barring on the characters or story. They're just there. If you were to remove these two parts, you’d still have the same movie. The ambition to do more with the story is noticeable, and respectable, but nothing was utilized efficiently to give the movie drive. The audience simply watches things that happen.
It’s frustrating to see that issue with this version is because it’s repeating the same problem(s) of the original film and, in general, there’s simply no life in this movie. The reason Matellano’s version of “Vampyres” is able to get by is because all of the pieces are there in order for the movie to work. The problem is that these pieces don’t come together in order to create the big picture. Then again, it’s a movie about blood and sex, which is what it’s most successful at delivering. So I’m sure “Vampyres” is going to be good enough for its core audience.