Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers (or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck (1967) is a movie I’ve loved since I first saw the heavily bastardized and severely cut TV print on the CBS Late Show in a college dorm back in 1972. It was years before I was able to see Polanski’s original version (the one being shown), but it only increased my fondness for this unusual film, which, depending on the day of the week, is often my favorite Polanski. This is a rare movie in that it works both as a horror spoof (ultimately, a pretty black one) and as a horror movie in its own right. Owing much to both Eastern European art (especially Marc Chagall) and folklore—along with something of the Hammer horror movies—it’s one of the most fairy tale-like films ever made. The plot is a simple enough set-up that has crackpot vampire hunter Prof. Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) and his assistant, Alfred (an unbilled Polanski) traveling “deep into the heart of Transylvania” to help stamp out vampires. What Polanski and co-writer Gerard Brach (not to mention composer Krzysztof Komeda and cinematographer Douglas Slocombe) do with that is something else again—a funny, spooky, visually and aurally stunning horror comedy unlike anything else.
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