Director: Leon Klimovsky
Code Red DVD

Code Red delivers more Spanish horror on Blu-ray, this time the uncut, “unclothed” version of THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY. Argentinean-born director Leon Klimovsky was no stranger to vampires, having done Paul Naschy's WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMAN (aka WEREWOLF SHADOW) (1970) and the totally offbeat SAGA OF THE DRACULAS (1972). VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY, Klimovsky's third vampiric effort, was followed by his last, the rarely seen STRANGE LOVE OF THE VAMPIRE (aka NIGHT OF THE WALKING DEAD) (1975). While THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY may not be the director’s best work, it's still a considerable slice of Spanish horror, and it manages to evoke a chill or two.

A bus carrying a group of new employees winds up in a mysterious, small village after their driver has a sudden heart attack. The passengers stay at an old inn where the food, drink and service all seem great until strange things begin to occur. When there's not enough meat to keep the guests' appetite satiated, various extremities are axed from locals by a massive woodsman (played by Fernando Bilbao, an immense actor who played the Frankenstein monster in several Jess Franco films). The cuisine turns out to be leg of man, and one hapless traveler (Dianik Zurakowska, FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR) finds a finger on her plate! A sexy Countess (Helga Line, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB) appears to be the village matriarch and she bribes the visitors with cash for their inconvenience as their bus is stranded. She seduces a young tutor, and then puts the bite on him as we discover the monster that she really is. In the meantime, most of the other guests pay with their lives, as they quickly become vampirized. Only two manage to escape (Zurakowska and American-born Spanish horror staple Jack Taylor) from the bloodthirsty, ghoul-infested community with their lives. They bring the police back to the scene, but all has mysteriously disappeared, all but the now totaled bus that they drove in with.

Klimovsky here gives us a minor endeavor, not quite as memorable as his previous vampire films were, and the film seems to border on black comedy throughout. Stagy shocks and silly antics replace the usual eroticism (when one character unknowingly eats human meat and says, "I've never tasted anything like it," another knowingly replies, "If it's one thing I'm sure of, it's that"), but it still manages to be fairly eerie. The opening shot was likely inspired by Hammer’s KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, while a number of sequences in the film were patterned after NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, still fresh in theater goers’ minds when this was made. There’s a disturbing scene involving two children hiding out from the living dead in a decrepit cemetery, and Helga Line does make a very seductive vampire woman.

Starting with Pagan's UK DVD release, all previous DVD releases of THE VAMPIRES NIGHT ORGY (including the bargain label U.S. editions) before Code Red’s have presented the film in an alternate "clothed" version as opposed to the more desirable version with the female flesh exposed (thankfully, Code Red’s transfer reflects this version). Several nude scenes were replaced on previous DVD releases, including Dianik Zurakowska's undressing for Jack Taylor — the film's hero, a peeping tom who spies through a tiny hole. In the “clothed” version, she appears in a see-through blue nightie, while here she’s on display fully nude. Another altered scene occurs when the Countess (Line, no stranger to nudity) seduces the pretty boy tutor. In this version, she is topless and there is some extended petting, while the “clothed” cut has her wearing a black nightgown. It's also worthy to note that this scene is accompanied by different music than what’s found in the clothed cut; a kitsch pop tune containing a female singer moaning and groaning on the soundtrack ("kiss me!"). This version also carries the American credits, as this is what played at American drive-ins in 1974 (and beyond) on a double-bill with Naschy's erotic-charged COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE.

Like Code Red’s previous DVD of the film (on a double bill with Klimovsky’s DR. JEKYLL VS. THE WEREWOLF), this Blu-ray transfer is culled from a 35mm Fujicolor American release print. The film is presented 1080p in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and as stated, represents the more desirable “unclothed” version. The transfer is sharp throughout, with the HD upgrading definitely adding more to the appearance in terms of detail and texture. Grain structure is solid, and the print source only has some minor scuffs and light, occasional emulsion lines on display every so often. Fujicolor prints tend to turn purplish over time, but the color looks pretty good overall, suffering more in some of the darker scenes. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track carries the expected pops and occasional scratches, but there’s nothing too severe to complain about here and dialog remains clear throughout. The original U.S. theatrical trailer is included. (George R. Reis)