Color, 1967, 75m. / Directed by Emilio Vieyra / Starring Ricardo Baulex, Susana Beltram / Mondo Macabro (US R0 NTSC, UK R0 PAL)


Argentina's maddest horror director, Emilio Vieyra, assaulted audiences with some of the strangest gothic visions seen on drive-in and grindhouse screens, most notably the now-legendary The Curious Dr. Humpp and the somewhat more traditional The Deadly Organ (a.k.a. Feast of Flesh). Though never caught in the clutches of American dubbers, his colorful Blood of the Virgins (Sangre de vírgenes) completes this mad trilogy with a free-association story filled with partying teens, morally conflicted bloodsuckers, and tons of bare skin.

Our tale begins in some unspecified era where people wear period clothes while wandering around modern architecture. Blonde, beautiful Ofelia (Beltram) is engaged to be married but spends her days having trysts in the woods with moody Gustavo (Baulex), who refuses to meet her parents. Unfortunately Ofelia doesn't suspect that her secret love is a vampire (understandable, really, since he's the rare bloodsucker who can apparently go out in daylight), and on her wedding night Gustavo makes mincemeat of the groom and turns the bride into a reluctant member of the undead. Cue the delicious bizarre animated credits, which lead to the story proper. A group of "teenagers" with a fondness for topless go-go dancing and boating stop for the night at a supposedly haunted house where Ofelia and Gustavo make short work of the interlopers, who are too busy fooling around to notice. Our hero, Raul, deduces that something's afoot and decides to put a stop to the bloody antics, leading to a poetic, red-soaked finale.

Though not particularly groundbreaking, Blood of the Virgins is tons of fun as an oddball entry in the sexy vampire sweepstakes led by the likes of Hammer and Jean Rollin. The plot is actually a bit more twisty and imaginative than the usual old dark house routine, though even with such a short running time the film is guilty of some outrageous but not entirely unwelcome padding (the early party scenes, for example). Some of Vieyra's cost-cutting measures actually provide some interesting results, such as the use of seagulls (complete with psychedelic red tints) instead of bats to represent the presence of vampires. Oddly enough, Jess Franco would appropriate the same basic device in Female Vampire and Vampire Blues, among others, giving this film an odd claim to sleaze history.

Mondo Macabro's beautifully presented DVD contains a sharp, smoothly textured transfer from a negative that probably hasn't been pillaged too much over the past few decades. Colors look accurate throughout, and only some very minor damage is evident. The full frame video transfer seems to contain all of the filmed image, though when zoomed in to 1.78:1 on a widescreen TV the compositions don't look too compromised. The Spanish langauge track with optional English subtitles sounds fine, though contrary to the UK version's packaging, it's plain vanilla mono, not stereo.

The chief extra is a retooled episode of the Mondo Macabro series devoted to Argentenian exploitation, with lots of Vieyra interview footage and film clips as well as looks at Armando Bo and the incredibly Isabel Sarli (Fuego). Also included is Pete Tombs' thorough text history and filmography of Vieyra, explaining why he eventually moved away from horror and into more traditional sexy filmmaking, as well as a welcome clutch of Vieyra trailers. Essential viewing if you like your vampire movies with a little bit of spice.


B&W, 1971, 87m. / Directed by Emilio Vieyra / Starring Aldo Barbero, Ricardo Bauleo / Image (US R0 NTSC)

If it weren't for the avalanche of bare flesh on display, The Curious Dr. Humpp would occupy a fond place in viewers' hearts as the epitome of great "bad" movies, which of course means it's not really bad at all. Fast paced and thoroughly delirious, this film became one of the banner titles in Something Weird's "Sexy Shockers from the Vault" series courtesy of Frank Henenlotter, and with very good reason. Every scene brings a new delight, be it a loopy line of dialogue, an outrageous act of monster depravity, or an undraped Argentinian lass strutting her wares before the camera. Originally titled La venganza del sexo, this film was retooled significantly for its US release thanks to inserts (shot in the US by distributor Jerry Intrator) of orgies and other dalliances for added salacious content. The film was already saucy enough, but the new footage really sends it over the top. The various scenes revolve around a mad scientist named Dr. Humpp (Aldo Barbero), whose genius and joie de vivre are fueled by a potion derived from human orgasms. When his supply of horny couples runs dry and his sardonic talking brain in a tank can no longer offer advice, the doc resorts to his unforgettable blank-faced monster (a la Dr. Orlof) to abduct virile subjects for his ungodly experiments. One of these unwilling subjects is George (Ricardo Bauleo), a reporter trying to uncover the method behind the doctor's madness. In between non-consensual humping sessions, George devises a plot to hurl the madman's plans back in his face.

Sort of the Argentinian equivalent to Jose Mojica Marins (aka "Coffin Joe"), director Emilio Vieyra carved a niche as the director of outlandish horror-oriented nudies like this and The Deadly Organ, whose trailer and promo spots are also included on this DVD. Thanks to Something Weird, at least his one unqualified masterpiece of the perverse can be enjoyed by an astonished public, and the man certainly knows how to turn out a gorgeous black and white film regardless of subject matter. The DVD transfer looks sharp as a tack, even better than the SW tape lifted from the negative(!) of the spicy US cut, and it's doubtful the English dubbing removes many of the nuances from the original language track. Besides, the sheer volume of quotable lines makes it ideal for sampling on your computer or answering machine. You also get the film's US trailer and the marvelous original Argentinian credits, complete with animated titles in the vein of The Fearless Vampire Killers. Three oddball shorts are also tossed into the brew, including one explicit little number called "The Girl and the Skeleton" that would make Bob Guccione very, very happy. The other shorts are "My Teenage Fallout Queen," sort of a proto-video by George McKelvey that must be witnessed to be believed, and "Rasputin and the Princess," another one of those trademark monster nudie snippets from the pre-hardcore days. Finally there's the trademark gallery of exploitation art with yet another new assortment of radio spots guaranteed to have you longing for the good ol' drive-in days.


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