Sunday, March 31, 2024



The Warner Archive Collection has released John Ford's 3 GODFATHERS (1948) on Blu-ray, and the picture and sound quality is spectacular. What also makes this release notable is that the Archive has included on the disc a 1936 version of the story, titled THREE GODFATHERS. Both films are based on a novel by Peter B. Kyne, and the plot has been filmed or borrowed for several other adaptations over the years. (John Ford had even made a silent version with Harry Carey.) All the versions deal with three desperadoes on the run from the law in the Old West coming across an abandoned dying woman and her baby. 

The 1936 THREE GODFATHERS was produced by MGM and directed by Richard Boleslawski. It's a very different film from John Ford's 1948 version. The 1936 version is in black & white, and it lacks the sentimentality of the Ford film. The 1936 version has more of an edge to it. In Ford's film, the three fugitives/godfathers (John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, and Harry Carey Jr.) are lovable rogues rather than hardened criminals. In the 1936 version, the trio of bandits (Chester Morris, Lewis Stone, and Walter Brennan) are not particularly appealing, especially at first, and gang leader Bob (Morris) is most assuredly a man who is willing to break any law to get what he wants. 

The 1948 Ford version has the three bandits rob a bank and go on the run very soon after the story starts. The 1936 version spends more time at the beginning setting up the town of New Jerusalem and its eccentric citizens. It also establishes Bob as a dastardly fellow--when the bank robbery does happen in the '36 version, he shoots an unarmed man, a man who is engaged to a former flame of Bob's. 

In the 1936 version, after the trio ride off into the desert and come upon the dying woman and her baby, there's a debate between Bob and his two partners on what to do with the infant. Doc (Lewis Stone) and Gus (Walter Brennan) are all for taking care of the child and getting him to safety, while Bob, worried about the money from the bank robbery and the fact that their horses have ran away and their water is almost gone, thinks they should just leave it. In the Ford version there's no question as to what to do--the three bandits are bound and determined to save the baby. 

The ending of the 1936 version is darker as well--Bob finally redeems himself, but only after paying the ultimate price. In the Ford sound version, community and fellowship wins out over all. 

Walter Brennan, Lewis Stone, and Chester Morris 

Chester Morris is perfect casting as this version's Bob. In every movie I've seen Morris in, he has a surly, sarcastic attitude, and he certainly has that here. When the black-garbed Bob finally breaks down at the end, Morris makes it believable. Lewis Stone is a very unusual choice for the role of Doc--it takes a while to accept Andy Hardy's dad as a bandit in the Old West--but he manages to steal the film. Doc is a well-spoken man who carries books in his saddlebags. The movie never explains why an educated man like Doc is now robbing a bank in a remote Arizona town, but the sad look in Stone's eyes tells the viewer all they need to know about how far this man must have fallen in his life. Walter Brennan as Gus plays another of the actor's many old coot roles, but as usual he makes the ruffian entertaining to watch. 

Richard Boleslawski was no John Ford--there's no shame in that--but he uses the outdoor locations quite well, and he and the production team proficiently establish the plight that the three bandits and their charge are going through. There's a starkness and a realism to the portrayal of the West in this film that I think Ford himself would have appreciated. 

Both the 1936 and 1948 films on this Warners Blu-ray have been remastered, and the sound and picture quality is fantastic for both. Original trailers for both films have also been included on the disc. 

I prefer the 1948 3 GODFATHERS over the 1936 THREE GODFATHERS. 3 GODFATHERS is directed by John Ford after all, and the color photography by Winton Hoch is breathtaking. There's also the fact that it features John Wayne and several members of the John Ford stock company. 

I do have to say that I was impressed by the 1936 THREE GODFATHERS. It was better than I thought it would be, and it provides two surprising performances by Chester Morris and Lewis Stone. I'm glad that the Warner Archive included it along with the more famous 3 GODFATHERS on this standout Blu-ray release. 

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Book Review: THE CAVALRY TRILOGY--John Ford, John Wayne, And The Making Of Three Classic Westerns


Michael F. Blake's THE CAVALRY TRILOGY--John Ford, John Wayne, and the Making of Three Classic Westerns--deals with a trio of films made by John Ford in the years spanning from 1947 to 1950. The three films--FORT APACHE, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, and RIO GRANDE--all deal with United States Cavalry units based in the American Southwest during the post-Civil War era. Even though the films have many similarities to one another (such as the names of their characters), the movies are not "officially" connected to each other. Despite this, film buffs and historians have labeled the three productions "The Cavalry Trilogy". 

John Ford is my favorite film director, and I have a number of books about him. This is a more than worthy addition to the collection. Michael Blake provides a thorough examination of each aspect of the production of the three films, and he does it in a way that even non-film geeks can understand and appreciate. Blake has a concise, get to the point writing style, and due to his several years working in the entertainment industry as a makeup artist, he knows exactly what it takes to produce films on remote locations involving many performers and horses. 

Blake gives background on Argosy Productions, the company headed by John Ford and Merian C. Cooper that made the films of the Cavalry Trilogy. He also details the lives and careers of several of the members of the John Ford Stock Company, and how these individuals interacted with and felt about the idiosyncratic and sometimes difficult director. The critical and box-office reception of the films are discussed, along with the music and the songs included in each, a factor that many Ford scholars overlook. The book also has a brief photo gallery. 

What really stands out in this book is how Blake compares the original scripts of the films with what Ford actually shot. Time and time again Blake presents how Ford would take a sequence and strip it down to either a few lines of dialogue or a few shots, making it more meaningful and memorable. Ford certainly wasn't the easiest guy to get along with, but his cinematic genius is indisputable, as this book clearly shows. 

After reading this book I re-watched the entire Cavalry Trilogy, and because of Blake's work I was able to notice several items of interest I had no knowledge about before. That's about the best compliment one can give to a book written about a film or a series of films. I had already owned the three books about Lon Chaney that Blake had written, so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed by this volume. 

In the preface of this book Michael Blake states that the films in the Cavalry Trilogy have never been given the proper attention that they deserve. I agree with that assessment--the Cavalry Trilogy has often been regarded as nothing more than entertaining Westerns. The fact is that these are great films period, and we'll probably never see anything made like them again. THE CAVALRY TRILOGY is a proper tribute to them. 

Sunday, March 24, 2024



This is another Tubi discovery. THE MURDER CLINIC is a 1966 color Italian thriller, original title LA LAMA NEL CORPO. The version I watched on Tubi had German main titles and an English dub track. 

Set in England in 1870, the story deals with devious activities at a medical clinic run by a Dr. Robert Vance (William Berger). New nurse Mary (Barbara Wilson) discovers that a number of young women have been horribly murdered by a black-garbed hooded figure wielding a straight razor. Dr. Vance, however, is reluctant to call in the police, while everyone at the clinic, staff and patients alike, acts suspicious. After a number of strange incidents the truth is revealed. 

THE MURDER CLINIC is technically a Euro Gothic due to its 19th Century setting, but it also has plenty of giallo and even krimi elements. If you took a Gothic story, a giallo story, and a krimi story and put them into a blender, THE MURDER CLINIC is probably what you would get. The movie might have been better if it concentrated on just one genre. The movie has too much going on in it--there are so many subplots and red herrings that the viewer has to constantly remember what all the interrelationships are. Dr. Vance is conducting some sort of weird experiment, while a horribly disfigured woman is secretly confined upstairs. A severe-looking matron (played by Euro Gothic veteran Harriet Medin White) bosses everyone around in a creepy manner, while there's a male attendant who's fooling around with the female staff. And then there's a shady seductress (played by Francoise Prevost) who arrives at the clinic after an "accident", and who manages to frustrate or tease all the many characters. With all these story trimmings, the final revelations come off as a bit of a letdown. 

Various sources credit two men for the direction of THE MURDER CLINIC: Lionello De Felice and Elio Scardamaglia. There's also some debate on who actually directed most of the film, and why there were two directors. Whoever should get the most credit, the possibilities inherent in the story (co-written by the ubiquitous Ernesto Gastaldi) are not fully realized. The film is diverting enough, and there are some atmospheric moments, but a Mario Bava or even an Antonio Margheriti could have easily made much more out of the material. 

The movie does have plenty of beautiful women in it, and, as expected, they all get plenty of chances to cavort about in sleepwear. Francoise Prevost gets the showiest role and makes the most of it, while Barbara Wilson is perfect as the innocent young kindly nurse. (Considering this was a European production, I highly doubt that "Barbara Wilson" was this actress' real name.) Spaghetti Western veteran William Berger is a unusual choice for the role of Dr. Vance, and he seems a bit uncomfortable playing it. unless the actor was trying to show how all the man's many secrets were weighing him down. 

THE MURDER CLINIC is a decent enough Euro Gothic, but it kept reminding me of more famous and much better films. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024



While doing research for my last blog post on the silent historical epic THE DIVINE LADY, I discovered that there was a German silent film also about the affair between Lady Emma Hamilton and Admiral Horatio Nelson, and that the British naval hero was played by none other than Conrad Veidt. LADY HAMILTON (1921) was directed and co-written by Richard Oswald, one of the leading filmmakers in Germany at the time, and a man who had already worked with Veidt on a number of occasions. I found a version of the film on the Internet Archive, a version with Russian intertitles but with English subtitles available for use.

LADY HAMILTON features Austrian actress Liane Haid as Emma, and charts her rise from a humble background to the top of European society. She's discovered by artist George Romney as a young woman, and gains more and more attention while fending off plenty of suitors. Emma winds up married to the much older Sir William Hamilton, ambassador to Naples (Werner Krauss), and begins an affair with British naval officer Horatio Nelson (Veidt). 

LADY HAMILTON is more drawing room melodrama than historical epic. Horatio Nelson doesn't arrive until about halfway through the story, and his deeds are more talked about than shown. A fair amount of money was spent on this production, with location shooting in England and Italy, and impressive set and costume designs credited to Hans Dreier and Paul Leni. I wouldn't say, however, that there was anything innovative or notable about the film's style. 

Liane Haid was apparently quite a major star in Europe at the time, and she's attractive enough to play Lady Hamilton, but from my perspective she didn't strike me as a woman who would automatically cause every man she meets to go mad over her, which happens in the film. Nearly every man Lady Emma encounters tries to have their way with her, except the upstanding Nelson (maybe that's why she falls for him in this story). Haid doesn't really have all that much to do here except be decorative. 

As for Conrad Veidt, he brings his usual striking presence to the role of Nelson, although I have to say it's hard to believe he's supposed to be English. His Nelson is a brooding, almost spectral figure, especially after he's lost an arm and an eye in battle. 

Conrad Veidt as Horatio Nelson

Werner Krauss really hams it up as William Hamilton, making the man as eccentric as possible. It should be said, however, that nearly every character in this film, other than Emma and Nelson, acts in an eccentric manner. The King of Naples is a useless lout, and Emma's many suitors are either fops or near-degenerates. (Was this a German statement about English society or the upper class in general??) 

One thing I must point out about the version of LADY HAMILTON that I viewed was that I don't believe it was the original cut. On the page for the film on IMDB, under the list of characters, the English Prince George is listed, but he wasn't in the version I watched. The version on the Internet Archive also ends rather abruptly--Emma finds out from William Hamilton (as he's in the act of dying) that she will receive nothing from his estate, due to his anger at finding out about her affair with Nelson. The story then moves to the Battle of Trafalgar, where Nelson lays dying while mooning over a small portrait of Emma. The movie then stops. I assume there has to be more to the story, such as what happened to Emma after Nelson's death. 

But we'll never know, unless someone does a full restoration of LADY HAMILTON. Considering that the movie stars German Expressionist superstars Conrad Veidt and Werner Krauss, it might happen someday--or, for all we know, there's a better and longer print out there that just hasn't been discovered yet. Honestly the main reasons to see LADY HAMILTON are Veidt and Krauss' extreme performance. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2024



For the last few weeks Turner Classic Movies has been showing a marathon of Oscar-nominated features. Most of these are films that I have seen over and over again, but TCM did happen to sneak in an obscure title: the 1929 THE DIVINE LADY, about the famous love affair between Lady Emma Hamilton and British military icon Horatio Nelson. THE DIVINE LADY was made by First National, and while it has no dialogue, it does have a music track that also features songs and sound effects. 

The most famous film about Lady Hamilton and Admiral Nelson by far is Alexander Korda's THAT HAMILTON WOMAN, starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh as the notorious couple. THE DIVINE LADY has Corinne Griffith as Lady Hamilton and Victor Varconi as Nelson. Griffith was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, while Frank Lloyd won for Best Direction. Cinematographer John Seitz was also nominated. 

The storyline of THE DIVINE LADY is almost exactly the same as THAT HAMILTON WOMAN. The movie charts the rise of Emma Hart from maid to society darling, due to her beauty and her attachments to rich, powerful men. Emma marries the much older British Ambassador to Naples, Sir William Hamilton (H.B. Warner), and encounters Captain Horatio Nelson when he arrives on naval business. Later when Nelson's squadron is desperate to stop at Naples to replenish much needed supplies, Emma intervenes with the city-state's queen to help the British fleet. Emma and Nelson fall more and more in love, but both are married to others, and the now-Admiral's rise in fame and glory doesn't help matters. The Battle of Trafalgar brings the couple's relationship to a close. 

THE DIVINE LADY is now what would be called a Hollywood big-budget spectacular. Nothing was done on the cheap with this production. The costumes, sets, art direction, and photography are all excellent, and there's plenty of extras swarming about. The story is more about Lady Hamilton than Nelson, but there are a few impressive battles at sea, and the death of Nelson is adequately dramatized. 

This is a very well-made picture....but it's also rather stately and even stuffy at times. I felt it lacked a certain spark, that certain something to set it apart from other historical epics. Corinne Griffith is certainly attractive enough to be Emma Hamilton, but she's much kinder and gentler than the Emma of Vivien Leigh. Victor Varconi is generically handsome enough, but he doesn't have the commanding presence one would expect from one of the greatest naval heroes of all time. Griffith and Varconi lack the fire and passion displayed by Leigh and Olivier in THAT HAMILTON WOMAN. The Lady Hamilton and Nelson of THE DIVINE LADY are portrayed in a sentimental and sympathetic manner--they moon over each other like a couple of teenagers. (Notice also how the difference in the titles reflect the attitude of each movie: in one Emma is a divine lady, while in the other she's "that Hamilton woman".) The fact that Emma and Nelson's affair produced a child is not even mentioned in this film. 

There is a notable supporting cast here, with H.B. Warner, Ian Keith, and Montagu Love as Captain Hardy. Marie Dressler plays Emma's mother, but she doesn't have much screen time (in the latter part of the film her character disappears). Despite not having a lot of scenes Dressler still manages to steal the ones she is in. 

THE DIVINE LADY is an above-average epic for its time, but there's more romance in it than historical adventure. Corinne Griffith was quite popular in the 1920s, but she wasn't able to make a successful transition to sound, while Victor Varconi became a steadily-working character actor. 

Sunday, March 10, 2024



THE IMPATIENT MAIDEN, released in 1932 by Universal, is the next film James Whale directed after he made the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN. 

According to James Curtis' biography of Whale, Universal executive Carl Laemmle Jr. bought the rights to a salacious novel called THE IMPATIENT VIRGIN as an intended vehicle for Clara Bow. Laemmle hoped to make a lurid box-office hit with the material and the notorious actress. Numerous problems with the Hays office made Universal rename the property THE IMPATIENT MAIDEN and downplay the more extreme aspects of the story. James Whale wound up attached to the project, even though it appears he wasn't too enthusiastic about it. 

THE IMPATIENT MAIDEN deals with a young woman named Ruth Robbins (Mae Clarke), who works as a secretary to a successful divorce attorney. Due to the people she deals with coming into her boss' office every day, and the low-rent neighborhood she lives in, Ruth is cynical and suspicious about getting married. Ruth falls in love with a young doctor named Myron Brown (Lew Ayres). Myron doesn't want to get married because he's just starting out his medical career and he doesn't have a lot of money. Their refusal to totally commit to one another causes Ruth and Myron to draw apart. Ruth's boss (John Halliday) tries to set her up as his mistress, but she still loves Myron. The doctor becomes angry over Ruth's situation with her employer, but a medical emergency brings the couple together for good. 

THE IMPATIENT MAIDEN might have been better if it had been made according to its original intentions. It's not an example of Pre-Code naughtiness--the characters of Ruth and Myron are too decent for that. The script lays on its bad attitude over marriage with a trowel--nearly everyone Ruth and Myron deal with has a bad relationship. There's also a lot of weird humor in the story that one assumes was put in by Whale. Ruth has a ditzy friend and roommate named Betty (Una Merkle), while Myron has his own ditzy friend in the form of Clarence (Andy Devine), a male nurse. (Of course Betty and Clarence get together, and they have a smoother relationship than Ruth and Myron do.) At one point Clarence puts Betty into a new type of straitjacket he has invented, and she gets stuck and put into a psychopathic ward. While that's going on, Myron gives Ruth a fluoroscopy--a bizarre way for the two main male characters to romance the two female leads. 

Lew Ayres and Mae Clarke in THE IMPATIENT MAIDEN

James Curtis states that James Whale wasn't all that interested in THE IMPATIENT MAIDEN. One can understand why, especially after what Whale went through on the production of FRANKENSTEIN. Whale and cinematographer Arthur Edeson do try to give some life to the material visually with an opening sequence set at Los Angeles' Angel's Flight mini-railway, and a camera that occasionally sweeps thru rooms. The climatic operating sequence is filmed in almost a documentary-like matter (Whale had an actual doctor on set to guide the actors). There's no Frankenstein-like stylistics to this sequence, or dramatic editing or music, but because of this, the ending isn't as gripping as it should be. 

Mae Clarke is very good as Ruth. She's not a conniving golddigger, she's just a woman unsure of marriage and true love. Lew Ayres seems unsure of himself as Myron--the actor stated in interviews that he felt James Whale didn't like him, and wasn't interested in giving him any direction. Una Merkle and Andy Devine get the showiest roles (one can debate on whether that was a good or bad thing). Hattie McDaniel has a cameo as a woman Myron is treating--she and her husband beat each other up. (It's another example of the story's--or Whale's--attitude toward marriage.) 

I watched THE IMPATIENT MAIDEN on YouTube, and the print was in bad shape (the audio quality was mediocre as well). Kino Lorber has recently released early James Whale Universal pictures such as THE KISS BEFORE THE MIRROR and BY CANDLELIGHT on home video, so perhaps THE IMPATIENT MAIDEN will soon get a restoration as well. It's not prime James Whale, but any film by the director is worth watching, and it marks the very last time Whale and Mae Clarke worked together. 

Saturday, March 9, 2024



TEPEPA is a 1969 Euro Western, directed by Giulio Petroni (DEATH RIDES A HORSE) and co-written by Franco Solinas (THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS). 

The movie is set during the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s. A dynamic rebel leader named Jose Maria Moran, also known as Tepepa (Tomas Milian) is sentenced to be executed under the supervision of a military colonel named Cascorro (Orson Welles). Tepepa is saved and spirited away by an English doctor named Henry Price (John Steiner). The reason the doctor saved Tepepa is that he wants to kill the rebel himself. As the story progresses, a series of flashbacks reveals how Tepepa became a vaunted figure in the revolution, and why the doctor wants to kill him. 

TEPEPA is a cut above the average spaghetti western. It's over two hours long, and it has an epic scope and feel to it (mainly due to director Petroni's excellent eye for widescreen compositions). While it does feature some fine action sequences, TEPEPA is more about plot and characterization. It also has another fine score from the Maestro, Ennio Morricone. 

While watching TEPEPA those familiar with the Euro Western genre will be reminded of such other films set during the Mexican Revolution as A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL and THE MERCENARY (two other scripts that Franco Solinas also worked on). TEPEPA also anticipates Sergio Leone's A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE in a number of ways. TEPEPA examines the whole point of revolutions, and what those who are involved actually get out of them (Tepepa was sentenced to die by the very government he fought to establish). 

The movie also examines the influence a charismatic revolutionary leader can have. Tepepa is certainly committed to the cause of his people, the poor rural folk of Mexico, but he's no saint, and when it is revealed why Dr. Price wants to kill him, the viewer has to re-examine their thoughts about the title character. TEPEPA asks what's more important--a revolution that supposedly will help many or the lives of individuals--and it doesn't offer up any easy answers. 

Tomas Milian played many similar roles to Tepepa in his long Euro Western career, but he had the screen presence to make these characters engaging and interesting. Milian as an actor also had an element of danger about him--you never could predict what he was going to do, and that certainly applies to Tepepa, who can be charming, philosophical, or crude at the snap of a finger. 

One would expect that a Mexican military strongman played by Orson Welles would have all sorts of flamboyant braggadocio, but Welles underplays the role (either that or he wasn't very happy with being involved in this sort of production). I have to say that Welles looks more Chinese than Mexican here. John Steiner also underplays the role of Dr. Price--instead of seething for vengeance against Tepepa, he calmly allows events to take their course. Usually the main gringo in a Mexican Revolution story made in Europe is either a bounty hunter or a mercenary who is a weapons expert, but Dr. Price is nothing of the sort--he has no interest in politics or money, his matter with Tepepa is personal. 

TEPEPA was much better than I thought it would be. I assumed it was just going to be Tomas Milian driving bad guy Orson Welles crazy all over Mexico, but it's much more than that. TEPEPA, as far as I know, doesn't have an official North American home video release, but it assuredly deserves one. (It is available uncut on the Plex streaming channel.) TEPEPA doesn't have the wild excesses of other spaghetti westerns (well, there is that sequence with the exploding goats....) so that might be one reason it doesn't have a bigger reputation. It is a film that fans of the genre should seek out. 

Sunday, March 3, 2024

DUNE (Part Two)


The second part of Denis Villeneuve's mammoth screen adaptation of Frank Herbert's famous novel is a true serious science-fiction/fantasy epic, and a welcome respite from the many Marvel clones clogging up today's theaters. 

DUNE Part Two deals with Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) becoming a leader of the Fremen race on the planet of Arrakis, and using these people as warriors against those who destroyed his family and his legacy. Part Two also introduces characters such as the Emperor of the Universe (Christopher Walken), his daughter Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh), Lady Fenring (Lea Seydoux), and the psychopathic Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler). 

The main advantage that Villeneuve has is the time (and the budget) to closely adapt Herbert's sprawling saga. In the 1984 DUNE, it seemingly takes Paul a few minutes to unite the Fremen under his banner. Here Paul's journey is much more complicated, with even his lover Chani (Zendaya) worried about what he will do with the power that he covets. 

DUNE Part Two isn't a tidy tale about good and evil. As I've stated before, Paul Atreides is more Anakin Skywalker than Luke. Part Two deals with such elements as religious fundamentalism, military insurgency, and the danger of giving oneself completely over to charismatic leaders. 

In DUNE Part One I felt that Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho made the biggest impression. In Part Two, it's Javier Bardem as Fremen chieftain Stilgar, but the cast is excellent overall. I had some worries about whether the baby-faced Timothee Chalamet could properly portray the "chosen one" version of Paul, but he did much better than I expected. (It needs to be pointed out that the character arc of Paul would be a major challenge to any actor.) 

The major reason that this new DUNE saga is effective is the rich visual qualities it possesses. As in Part One, Villeneuve, cinematographer Greig Fraser, and the entire production team create a fully-fledged  universe that is believable, impressive, and intriguing. There are plenty of breathtaking shot compositions here, but they are smoothly integrated into the story being told--they're not just an example of the filmmakers showing off. 

DUNE Part Two might be even better than Part One. Together the films form a 5+ hour spectacular that presents how classic science-fiction should be adapted for the big screen. Denis Villeneuve hasn't just done a great service for Frank Herbert's novel, he's done a great service for 21st Century genre cinema. 

Saturday, March 2, 2024

THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE On Blu-ray From Vinegar Syndrome


Vinegar Syndrome has released another title from the classic era of Italian Gothic horror. THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE (original title L'ULTIMA PREDA DEL VAMPIRO) makes its Blu-ray debut. 

This movie forms an unofficial trilogy with fellow early 1960s Italian flicks THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA and THE VAMPIRE OF THE OPERA. All three films are in black & white and set in contemporary times, and all three feature a bevy of curvy dancing girls under threat by the undead. In THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE, it's five dancing girls (along with their manager and accompanist) who are stranded at a creepy castle inhabited by one Count Kernassy (Walter Brandi). The Count happens to have a lookalike centuries-old vampire ancestor (also played by Brandi), and one of the girls happens to be a dead ringer for the undead's lost love. 

I wrote a blog post on THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE a while ago, and I noted that it wasn't as good as the two other films linked to it. What hurts it the most is that none of the actors are particularly charismatic or interesting (Brandi is underwhelming in both his roles). It does have some notable elements, such as the fact that one of the dancing girls who has been turned into a vampire cavorts about in the nude.

Vinegar Syndrome states that THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE has been scanned & restored in 4K from its 35mm fine grain master. The movie looks better than the many versions one finds on the internet and YouTube, but the image appears soft at times and the visual quality is rather flat. I think this is more due to the source material--THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE isn't as cinematic as most Italian Gothics made during this period. The film is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio.This Blu-ray features Italian and English audio tracks, along with newly translated English subtitles. The disc is region-free. 

The main extra is a 26 minute featurette with Mark Thompson-Ashworth, who mentions the unofficial "Dancing Girls and Vampires" trilogy, along with going into some background about the cast & crew. including writer-director Piero Regnoli. Unfortunately there is no audio commentary.  

The disc also has three alternate title sequences for the film, an original trailer, and a still gallery. If you order the movie direct from Vinegar Syndrome, you get a wraparound sleeve with vintage ad artwork for the film, and the disc case sleeve is reversible as well (see above). The artwork is more energetic than just about anything in the movie!

THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE isn't one of the best Italian Gothics, but it's perfect late-night viewing for old monster movie buffs. It's nice that Vinegar Syndrome has given it an official release.