“The coldness of the grave is in my blood”
During the late 60’s and early 70’s it seemed that every film that came out had living dead affixed to the title. As films were brought over and retitled, distributors felt it was a sure fire way to get buts in the seats. Night of the Living Dead had just been a huge hit. This made the pre internet days of tracking down sources extremely slow and near impossible. 1969’s Malenka is such a film.
Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) calls her finance, Dr. Piero Luciani (Gianni Medici)to inform him that she has inherited a Castle and Title. She is now a Countess. WOW talk about winning the family death lotto! So she travels to the country and stops in at the local Inn for a beer. While there she meets a couple of barmaids, Bertha (Diana Lorys) and Freya (Rosanna Yanni) who flirt with her a little before she ruins the party. How does she do that? Well by saying that she’s staying at the local castle, she’s family! Wow you can almost hear the record skip as everyone stops what they are doing with mouths a gasp.
After dropping that bomb she makes her way to the castle to meet her Uncle, the Count Walbrooke (Julian Ugarte). Later she is awakened by a busty brunette creeping into her room named Blinka (Adriana Ambesi), who tells her that her Uncle is 100 years old and means her harm. Sylvia is not amused (I wonder why), but Blinka persists none the less and entrances her. Just as she is ready to make her move (yes every woman was bi in the 70’s), she is caught and dragged out by the Count. Following him, Sylvia soon comes to a room where The Count is whipping Blinka. Sylvia urges him to stop but he shows her what Blinka really is…a vampire!
In the morning, Sylvia, having had quite a first night, is ready to leave. The Count tells the story of Malenka, her aunt who was burned at the stake for being a witch. Now that’s an interesting family. She also happens to bear a striking resemblance to Malenka as is told that because of her ties to the family, she must remained cursed and unmarried. Since she is virginal and naïve, she buys into this and breaks off her engagement.
Peiro is taking this laying down. He travels to the same Inn where our friendly neighborhood barmaid Freya fills him in on the entire goings on, it appears that her sister, Bertha has been killed but she still fears the worst. Meanwhile, Sylvia is trapped in the castle as the Count tries attempts to force her to perform a ritual that will make her immortal. While running from the Count, she is approached by Bertha, now a vampire! Poor Sylvia should have stayed home.
After a brief reunion, Sylvia finds herself back at the castle as Peiro and his band of Doctors turned vampire hunters set out to destroy the vampiric madness and save her once and for all.
Fangs of the Living Dead aka Malenka was made by Spanish director Amando de Ossorio, famous for the Blind Dead films. Though some people feel that this is a lesser film, I feel it is an atmospheric romp allowing itself to have fun with the genre without being comical. Let’s look at the people who gave us this Flesh and Fangs parade.
Anita Ekberg, famous for her role in La Dolce Vita, where she also plays a woman named Sylvia, captures the screen. There is just something saucy about her. Diana Lorys as Bertha is fun and sexy, and gives Blinka a run for her money. I enjoyed her in the Awful Dr. Orloff and I’m glad she was here. Also on hand is Rosanna Yanni who plays Freya is the spitting image of Adult film star Janine, was also one of the film’s producers and presents a strong presence. And she would, be having worked time and again with Jess Franco. Other cast members like Adriana Ambesi (Blinka) are interesting and definitely gets our affection. This is another case of the women stealing the show and she definitely does her part.
Gianni Medici is kind of wasted, never really doing anything too heroic. He’s likeable enough though. And he was brave enough to do that strange bondage seen. César Benet as Max provides the comic relief and secondary love interests for all the buxom women running around this cursed village.
I really liked this film. It’s not perfect but it’s a good time with decent sets and a plot that keeps moving. Part Horror Hotel and part Carmilla, its influences are apparent. Those of you looking for nudity will be disappointed; there isn’t a bare boob in the house. Not a complaint, just an observation. All in all it’s a nice slice of gothic cheesecake. Enjoy.