Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vampire Ecstasy (1974): or, Don't Knock the Krock

Imagine a standard Old Dark House/Inheritance Reading set-up, in a decrepit mansion that may be haunted by a spirit hell-bent on familial revenge. Imagine that the list of inheritors is composed of a short oversexed blonde in thrall to the spirit's lust-inducing powers on one hand, and a Hawt School Marm with her zoot suit-wearing lipstick-lesbian lover on the other. Now imagine a brother-and-sister ghostbusting team just happens to arrive hours before the will is read, and that the spirit's sexy powers awaken the woman's incestuous lust in hopes of preventing her from revealing the truth. Imagine the housekeeping staff is made up entirely of a lesbian witch coven, all stern unsmiling servants by day and Laugh-In Go-Go Dancers of Satan by night. Finally, imagine the evil spirit in question is not just a spirit, but a Lesbian Vampire Queen whom the head housekeeper wants to resurrect so she can get some 500-year-old lovin'.

Now--imagine that such a movie ACTUALLY EXISTS, was directed by the man responsible for Deep Throat 2 and Inside Little Oral Annie, and boasts an all-German cast who deliver their English lines entirely through phonetics!

I swear--sometimes a guy just hits the Trash Movie JACKPOT.

Vampire Ecstasy (aka The Devil's Plaything) hits the ground running and never slows down. We open with with a naked woman chained to a stake under the main titles--always a good start--and then quickly switch to a witchy ceremony with the aforementioned coven, all in diaphanous gowns and metal circlet headresses. As pseudo-Arabic music plays in the background, the witches drop their diaphanes to reveal Leia Slave-Girl Bikinis and Goldie Hawn-body paint, circa 1969. It's all so beautiful, the lesbo-fondling just before the director's credit really isn't necessary--but I'm still glad it's there.

Get used to this kind of thing.

Before you have time to puzzle over just what THAT was all about, we're whisked away to the local train station, where diminutive but STACKED Eurohottie Helga (Swedish porn starlet Marie Forså) is just disembarking. Passenger fashions and other clues let us know we're in the present day, which makes Helga's lack of suspicion at the Renaissance Faire coach and driver sent to pick her up all the more endearing.

Turns out Helga is one of the last two living descendants of the owners of the castle on the moors, and has come to hear the reading of her late aunt's will. As the coach bears her further and further from civilization--or at least the train station--she seems to go back in time as well; once she arrives at the castle and is met by three weird sisters in black sack dresses and schoolmarm buns, she might as well be in medieval Bohemia.

Not long after that the OTHER cousin arrives at the castle (on foot, strangely): dark-haired and shy-looking Monika (the aptly named Ulrike Butz) accompanied by her lesbian lover, who we know is a lesbian because of her 1940s Gangster-style pin-stripe suit and fedora. The two are welcomed--though such is hardly the right word--by head housekeeper Wanda Krock (the amazing Nadia Henkowa), one of the sternest, most menacing Teutonic housekeepers it's ever been my pleasure to meet. Refusing to let the hot girlfriends sleep in the same room, Frau Krock isolates them and instructs them to wait until their late aunt's will can reveal who will be the mistress of the manor.

"Billie Jean is not my lover--oh, wait, yes she is."

Just when you think the gang's all here, a preternatural rainstorm washes out the road to the castle, leaving brother-and-sister team Julia (Anke Syring) and Peter (Nico Wolf) stranded and in need of shelter. As luck would have it, Julia is studying the local folklore and superstitions of the area for a book she's writing, and just HAPPENS to know that the original owner of the castle, Baroness Dania, was a vampire and a witch burned at the stake many centuries ago. Oh, and also that Dania cursed the descendants of her killers from her pyre (like you do), promising to be resurrected through their bloodline to wreak her evil vengeance on their souls.

Now, having deftly maneuvered all his pieces into place, Director Joe Sarno decides to celebrate a job well-done in the traditional way: with a NAKED SATANIC GO-GO DANCE OUTTA NOWHERE!

I just have to stop here for a moment and sing the geeky praises of Nadia Henkowa as the inestimable Frau Krock. I've seen a lot of Sexy Germanic Ice Queens in my time, but Frau Krock is really in a class by herself for sternness, authoritarian snappishness, and general icy menace. Simply put, Frau Krock is AWESOME. She's a woman who would just as soon snap your neck as say hello, and you can sense it in every twitch of her well-developed sneering muscles.

Frau Krock suggests you speak to the hand.

Not only that, but when it comes to the Devil's Go-Go Party, she's got a bod that won't quit and she's not at all afraid to use it. In the celebratory coven dance Frau Krock takes a leading role, as groovy and watery in the joints as any Laugh-In dancer ever was--except she does it with the same stern, icy poker face, as if this were not a dance of joy, but merely a necessary task to be accomplished with maximum mirthless efficiency. The juxtaposition of that face and that pumping paint-covered naked bod is startling, and affecting in a deep emotional way IYKWIMAITYD.

It doesn't take long for the coven's black magic to have its effect on the overnight guests--and since this coven specializes in black magic of the SEXY variety, it yields supernaturally Sexy Results. Helga and Peter are both plagued with ultra-realistic fuck-dreams, leading Helga to to sleepwalk, both in her diaphanous nightgown and out of it. (Zang.) Meanwhile Peter merely gasps and writhes on his bed while Julia watches over him, obviously more affected by the sight than mere sisterly affection will allow. Overcome with the sexy, Julia starts feeling herself up and playing pet-the-kitty while watching her brother's happy dream. Whether this is the coven's spell at work or Julia's own filthiness at play is left for the audience to judge. Still, worried that something wicked just might make her come, Julia adorns herself and her brother with crosses made of garlic, just to be safe.

Suffering from an uncontrollable case of all-consuming horniness, Helga goes to Frau Krock and begs her to "make the throbbing stop!" This is all part of Krock's eeevil plan, of course, as she explains to the panting Eurobabe:
"Some spells make you seethe with unfulfilled desires--make your juices flow, hot and burning...your fingers want in, the flames of Hell set your nipples afire and open your womb to the will of her priestesses!"
I wonder if they offer correspondence courses?

Open up and say "Ahhhhhhhh!"

At any rate, Krock promises Helga she'll take the Sexy away if the girl will rob Peter of his garlic cross, since Pete has taken a fancy to Helga, and furthermore he and Julia are descendants of the knight who turned the Baroness over to the Inquisition all those years ago; hence Krock wants Peter to mate with the Baroness's true descendant Monika in order to complete her promised resurrection and revenge. Of course the monkey wrench in all this is Julia, who plays the incestuous, brother-humping Van Helsing to Frau Krock's awesome Germanic Renfield. Are you with me so far?

From here on out it's just one sexy horror after another. Pushed on by forces in her crotch she can no longer control, Helga seduces Monika's lesbian lover in a hay loft before delivering her to the coven in the basement, where the girl is hypnotized and made to squat over a gigantic conical candle while another coven member has sex with a hogtied muscleman on the altar. All this under Frau Krock's stern, emotionless eye, naturally. Later Helga succeeds in taking Peter's garlic away, Monika is possessed by the spirit of Baroness Dania and has a long sex scene with Peter while Helga humps a waist-high candle in the background, and Frau Krock offers Julia all the Luscious Pete that she can eat if she'll join the coven and stop being such a square already.

Oh, and some of the candles in the coven room are shaped like penises--though not the ones being used as happy-funtime-playtoys, oddly.

"Please just try to relax."

Vampire Ecstasy is 100% out-of-control sexy vampire goodness from start to finish, with enough devil-worship, deviance, and go-go dancing to fill three such films. The principals are all attractive and frequently naked--Forså in particular does well as the out-of-control innocent Helga--and the bit players in the coven are at least as sexy as any of the stars. And as if the crazy plotting were not enough, the thick German or Scandinavian accents from everyone involved adds another level of madcap unreality--seriously, I'd be shocked if anybody onscreen actually understood a syllable of English; more than once I had to turn the subtitles on just to translate what's meant to be my mother tongue.

Sarno's background in porn is more than apparent here, and while even the uncut version Vampire Ecstasy (accept no subtitutes!) is definitely softcore, it's the kind of softcore that stops *just* short of the line. Lesbianism, incest, bondage, blood--there's something here for just about every pervy taste this side of Slave of the Cannibal God. (And in the name of God and the ASPCA, please stay on *this* side of Slave of the Cannibal God!) However, Sarno's artistic aspirations are in evidence as well, as the director gets many truly beautiful shots and shows off an occasional flair for interesting composition, particularly in the vampire seduction and garlic-cross standoff scenes.

But the real revelation here is Frau Krock, one of my new favorite villainesses of all time. Nadia Henkowa just OWNS the movie; the screen is barely big enough to contain her. Her evil exchanges with her victims and her devilish tempting of Julia are standouts, as are her amazing dance numbers. Stern-beyond-sternness, dominating, and strangely sexy, Henkowa adds a full half-thumb through sheer force of personality.

I *would* make a wish, but it already came true.

As if a flick this entertaining NEEDED the bonus. For audacity, frenetic pacing, blood-sex-magic and wall-to-wall MADNESS, Vampire Ecstasy easily grabs the coveted 3+ thumb rating. Stuff your boxers with garlic and see this one NOW.



Tenebrous Kate said...

Oh my god the ZOOT SUIT!!!! If I'm really good during this lifetime, I get to spend eternity with her and Rosalba Neri in her fez-and-suit-getup from "Castle of Fu Manchu." I better start behaving myself now so I can ensure my afterlife is filled with vampire ecstasy. Your kickass review makes this movie sound AMAZING, Vicar! My mind reels in the best possible manner.

Samuel Wilson said...

I remember seeing stills from this item in books on erotic and/or horror cinema, under yet another title if I recall right, and jumping for it when it came out on VHS. Inevitably it didn't live up to my fantastic expectations, but it's quite a piece of work just the same. Sarno must have quite a rep now, given how Retro-Seduction promotes him as the king of ambitious softcore, but he does his bit to earn it. Anyone who reads blogs like ours should find something to enjoy in this film.

The Duke of DVD said...

*wipes a tear from his eye* You had me at "lesbian witch coven", dearest Vicar. I cannot overstate how much I need to watch this movie. Congrats on a beautiful review. As always, you somehow make movies about lesbian vampires and/or witches sound interesting, which is a tough thing to do naturally.

I want this movie in me.

Pierre Fournier said...

OMG, here's a coincidence of epic proportions: Vampire Ecstasy is playing on cable RIGHT THIS MOMENT, on the Drive-In Classics movie network, in Canada.


The Duke of DVD said...

Thanks to the Vicar, I was able to watch this movie last night. It was everything I had hoped for, and more. I was very impressed by the amount of tit-rubbing that went on. I mean, everyone loves a good breast massage, but this movie takes the art to new heights.

Most impressive. I give it my full endorsement.

Michael said...

Thanks for the tip, dear V. I hail here from your response to my comment on "Nude for Satan", where you referred me to this apparent gem. A quick check on the IMDb yields 76 Plot Keywords, including "Breast Suckling, Masturbation with Candle, Lesbian Orgy, Explicit Nudity, Incestuous Desire, Sexual Perversion..." Do I need to go on? I mean I'm barely halfway down the list. And seriously, can anyone make a meaningful film that's not about lesbian vampires? I haven't seen it yet, but I'm already considering myself deeply indebted.

Aliasha said...

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