Instantly boring, this British production (originally titled Incense for the Damned) about a guy who goes to Greece because he’s impotent and ends up getting turned into a vampire by a sexy woman also manages to be insanely stupid. While I’m sure this movie had great appeal for all those British dudes without any motion in their ocean, for us American guys with plenty of rise in our Levis, the whole thing seemed a bit silly!
Let me get this straight: the ladies in your country were so homely that you had to go to an entirely different country in hopes of finding one that might trip your trigger? As dopey as that sounds, if this sort of thing was going to be a possibility in one country, Britain would be it. When most of your gals look like Prince Charles, it might very well end up being all Greek to you after all!
This was one of those movies that wasted no time at all in turning off the audience. When it started and I heard clipped narration from one of the characters explaining who this impotent vampire was and then have him periodically describe what’s going on in an effort to keep the story moving along, I thought I had blundered into a bizarre episode of Dragnet!
The only positive thing you can say about the movie was that at least it showed some Greek locations, but I don’t remember going to the movie store looking for a DVD full of Greek sightseeing footage.
And if you’re going to be shooting outdoors at night, you need to make sure that I can see what’s going on. There were a couple of times, including a climax atop a university building where I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on because someone couldn’t be bothered to turn on a light or two.
Richard Fountain travels to Greece to do some studying, but word has gotten back to his prospective father-in-law (Peter Cushing as the provost of the university) that he’s gotten himself into some sort of trouble. The narrator, another friend, and Richard’s girlfriend Penelope go to Greece to rescue him.
Once there, it appears as if Ricky has gone and gotten himself mixed up in some kind of crazy cult. We’re treated to one of those dumb 1970s drug scenes where the camera goes crazy, you get funny colored filters, close ups on people’s eyes and wonky music.
During all of this, a local girl gets stabbed and left for her mom to find. Mom then sics some of the local toughs on Rick’s recently arrived friends. This results in one of the movie’s big action scenes where one guy spends about five minutes fighting off four big Greeks with a variety of kicks, punches, and judo tosses. It’s a welcome dose of life to an otherwise sleepy film, but it has nothing to do with the story. Plus one for mindless violence though!
Other than that big fight, the three characters chasing after Ricky (Tony, Penelope, and Bob) are for the most part a bunch of bickering whiners. Bob and Penelope start arguing on the plane ride over to Greece about Ricky and Tony has to tell them to shut up or he’d take them back home! I half expected to hear him threaten to turn the plane around and fly it back to London!
Then you’ve got Bob feeling the need to announce that even though he really likes Ricky, he’s not a homosexual or anything. Wait? You mean two guys can be friends without being gay? Maybe he just thought he needed to say that since he was in Greece or something.
There’s also the tiresome back and forth between Tony and Bob where Bob keeps putting forth these wacky theories about Ricky’s impotence and ancient Minoan rites and putting stakes through vampires while Tony brushes it all off as superstitious nonsense even as he’s chucking spilled salt over his shoulder!
After a rather ridiculous encounter with the female vampire who holds sway over Ricky (it involved her starting an avalanche on The Avengers’ Patrick Macnee after a breathtaking chase up a mountain while riding mules), everyone finally gets back to London where Ricky can resume the life that Peter Cushing has planned out for him.
Penelope comes off as a bit of a dunderhead, having daddy announce her and Ricky’s engagement in spite of his impotence and his attempt to cure it at the hands of some hot Greek vampire as well as Ricky’s obvious cold shoulder to her.
All of this doesn’t stop Cushing from letting Ricky give a big speech at the college that sees Ricky go off on a tangent about how the academic community were a bunch of leeches who just try to brainwash you. (This is the sort of movie where guys with bad haircuts complain about “the establishment” if that helps you get the flavor of things.)
The movie tries to make a connection between Ricky’s overbearing girlfriend’s dad and his impotence (i.e. Ricky’s been symbolically castrated by this guy’s interference) and how he had to go off to try and reclaim his manhood.
How that all fit in to getting hooked up with a Greek vampire cult remains as mysterious as The Equalizer Edward Woodward’s appearance here as a museum curator who delights in listing the various strange sexual habits people in engage in. At least someone was having fun.
By the time Peter Cushing is bawling his red-rimmed eyes out at the end of the film, you get the idea that he’s just seen a rough cut of it.
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