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The Playgirls And The Vampire (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • The Playgirls And The Vampire (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: March 26th, 2024.
    Director: Piero Regnoli
    Cast: Walter Brandi, Lyla Rocco, Maria Giovannini, Alfredo Rizzo, Marisa Quattrini, Leonardo Botta
    Year: 1960
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Playgirls And The Vampire – Movie Review:

    Piero Regnoli’s 1960 goofy gothic horror, The Playgirls And The Vampire, revolves around a quintet of beautiful showgirls - Vera (Lyla Rocco), Katia (Maria Giovannini), Ilona (Marisa Quattrini), Magda (Corinne Fontaine) and Erika (Erika Dicenta) - that travels with their manager, Luca (Aldredo Rizzi), as they travel in a tour bus through Europe on their way to a gig. Unfortunately, and completely predictably, their bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere during a nasty thunderstorm, the only nearby shelter a creaky old castle.

    As they make their way to the massive stone abode, they meet its owner, Count Gabor Kernassy (Walter Brandi), who there with his maid, Miss Balasz (Tilde Damiani), and a groundskeeper named Zoltan (Antonio Nicos). The Count allows them to talk shelter and offers them his bizarre hospitality. As the girls, accompanied by Luca on the piano, practice their wonky burlesque-esque dance routines, the Count can’t help but notice, especially shapely Vera, who may in fact be the reincarnation of his dearly departed wife, Margherita Kernassy – she sure looks like the woman in the painting!

    Regnoli’s sole horror movie directorial offering (he was much more prolific as a writer, having penned Demonia and Voices From Beyond for Lucio Fulci and, of course, Andrea Bianchi’s infamous Burial Ground to name only a few of this over one hundred writing credits) shares a whole lot of similarities with The Vampire And The Ballerina made the same year, but it’s an entertaining, if somewhat silly, slice of vintage gothic horror and mild sexploitation thrills.

    Beautifully shot by ace cinematographer Aldo Greci (who co-wrote the script with Regnoli), it’s a very good looking film that offers up some pretty atmospheric visuals all set to a pretty solid score from composer Aldo Piga. The pacing is pretty good and the movie has an interesting, almost tragic, element of romanticism to it that makes it more compelling than you might expect it to be, given that it isn’t especially original and feels fairly predictable by modern standards. Still, those production values are really nice and the creepy castle setting definitely works in the movie’s favor.

    As to the cast, Walter Brandi isn’t particularly threatening or menacing as the vampire and, as such, the movie falls fairly flat in the scares department, even if some moderate tension is created in the film’s final reel. Aldredo Rizzi is amusing enough as the troupe’s manager, he’s pretty enthusiastic here, and the five ladies, Lyla Rocco in particular has got plenty of old school sex appeal working in her favor. There’s nothing especially explicit here, but the mild titillation that The Playgirls And The Vampire provides was no doubt pretty strong stuff for its era.

    Overall, this doesn’t stand as tall as some of the better Italian gothic films made in the sixties but despite its flaws, it does prove to be a pretty entertaining watch and one that fans of vintage Eurocult pictures should definitely appreciate.

    The Playgirls And The Vampire – Blu-ray Review:

    The Playgirls And The Vampire hits Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen taken “newly restored in 4K from its 35mm fine grain master” on a 50GB region free disc and the black and white transfer looks excellent. Detail is very strong and there isn’t much in the way of print damage here to complain about outside of the occasional small white specks and some small scratches now and again. Contrast looks really good, we get nice clean whites and solid blacks all complemented by a good looking greyscale and the disc is well-authored, showing no problems with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression problems. Note that there are a few shots that have focus issues – this is not an issue with the disc, the movie has always looked like this and that problem is baked into the elements.

    Audio options are provided in Italian and in an English dub, both in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono format, with optional subtitles in English only. The Italian track sounds a bit better than the English one but both of them sound fine, exhibiting proper balance and clean dynamics. Note that there are a few spots in the English track where it kicks over to the Italian audio with English subs as these scenes were likely never dubbed for the English version in the first place.

    The main extra on the disc is a twenty-six minute featurette titled ‘Striptease Gothic’ that is a talk with Mark Thompson Ashworth that, after summarizing the plot, explores the fact that the movie doesn't really offer a lot of scares but does deliver in the 'short nighties' department, other 'girly vampire movies' made around the same time nad how they compare, the popularity of Hammer's Dracula and how it influenced many of these films, the history of The Playgirls And The Vampire's history and distribution, thoughts on the film's "slapdash photography," the use of low angels to show off the female stars' figures, details on the cast and crew, how the film makes for perfect rainy night viewing and lots more.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc is an original theatrical trailer, the alternate ‘The Playgirls And The Vampire’ opening title sequence, the alternate ‘Curse Of The Vampire’ opening title sequence, an alternate ‘Des filles pour un vampir’ French title sequence and a still gallery. Menus and chapter selection options are also provided.

    This release comes packaged with some very nice reversible cover sleeve art and, if purchased from the Vinegar Syndrome website, an optional limited edition spot varnish slipcover limited to 5,000 pieces designed by Alessa Kreger.

    The Playgirls And The Vampire - The Final Word:

    The Playgirls And The Vampire isn’t on the same level as some of the more established and recognized classics of the Italian gothic horror boom of the sixties, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a really entertaining slice of vintage Eurohorror with some really nice cinematography and a few memorable set pieces. Vinegar Syndrome has done their typically excellent job bringing the movie to Blu-ray with a beautiful presentation. Recommended.



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