"What the hell was the name of that vampire movie where Steed out of the Avengers was killed by polystyrene boulders?" That was a question I constantly bugged my mates with, yet it seems this old, forgotten duffer was released under a multitude of different titles, none of which seemed to do it much good. So little enamored with the project was director Robert Hartford-Davies, he ended up disassociating himself with it completely. Never mind, this British effort from the little-known Lucinda Films (?) features some stellar native horror alumni (Cushing! Woodward! MacNee! Mower!). Alas and alack, the discerning viewer is entitled to feel a wee bit diddled; Cushing's 'starring' role takes up about five minutes of screen time and Woodward's cameo could easily be missed altogether if you nipped out to make a cup of tea. Neither of the star's roles either sadly matter a tinker's cuss to the storyline; which involves an Oxford student (Mower) mysteriously disappearing on a working holiday in Greece and the inevitable rescue expedition that ensues. It starts badly, with a tepid, needless voice-over and a minging credit sequence (yellow letters on grey background, eww) and a bit of a wait 'til we get to the 'action'. Unfortunately, the half-arsed vampire fisticuffs are scrappily edited (presumably with the prop weapons from the fights), and mistakenly leave in a scene where a guy is tonked on the head by a boulder to no evident effect. Poor old Patrick MacNee takes the film into the upper echelons of comedy as he gives chase to the villainess - his face a rugged mass of determination - while riding a donkey.
If the wobbly sets and barely co-ordinated action are a given, then so is the hokey dialogue, which aims at titillation in an era of relaxing censorship regarding erotica.
"Are you trying to tell me that a girl sucking blood from a man's neck... could induce orgasm?!" our incredibly worried looking 'hero' quizzes Woodward. Woodward himself (professionally straight-faced as ever) has some choice gems too, despite his tiny part: "Sado-Masochism, my dear man, is no joke..." before procrastinating on the fact that some men can only make love whilst in a coffin. Such sex-based tittle-tattle eventually leads to the seduction of Mower on his travels by the vampiric villainess Chriseis (Imogen Hassall- exotic and sexy, but woefully undercharacterised) and a tedious orgy scene that was tacked on for the French market. The distracting 'psychedelic' lighting and camera flourishes in these scenes is a wasted attempt at hipness - especially in view of the fact that it was shelved for years and was already badly dated by the time of its release.
The unfortunate pang you get from all these blood-soaked S & M shenanigans is the impression that there is a really rather interesting vampire movie in here somewhere; perhaps in other hands and with a better use of its acting talent it could have been something special.
By the way, MacNee's character in this guff is called 'Derek Longbow'. Yes!