The Vampire Happening

The Vampire Happening (1970)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Pia Degermark, Ferdie Mayne
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

I’ve written before about the great job that Anchor Bay does restoring older, obscure films. Recently, Anchor Bay has continued this trend, and it seems that they are trying to fill the needs of film fans, no matter how marketable a film may be. Anchor Bay has just released the obscure horror-sex-comedy ’The Vampire Happening’ on DVD, and movies probably don’t come more obscure or eclectic than this 70’s oddity.
’The Vampire Happening’ stars Pia Degermark as Betty Williams, an American actress. She has just arrived in Transylvania to view the ancestral castle which she has inherited. Upon arriving at the castle, she learns that she bares an uncanny resemblance to one of her relatives (of whom there’s a topless painting), who was a murderer. While exploring the crypt (and hallucinating), she finds the coffin of this ancient murderess and opens it to find that she is still alive, and in fact, a vampire! The vampire escapes from her coffin and bites a local monk. The monk becomes a vampire and bites some women in the village, so a vampire plague is started. Meanwhile, Betty is unaware of any of this due to her sexual marathon with a local stud. The last act of the film deals with a vampire party complete with a mod 70’s band and Count Dracula (Ferdie Mayne), who arrives in a helicopter!
To be quite honest, ’The Vampire Happening’ is a very strange film. It was directed by Hammer vet and noted cinematographer Freddie Francis, and it’s obvious that he has attempted to give the film a Hammer feel. Unfortunately, the film hasn’t aged very well and feels very dated. It plays like a Hammer vampire film meets ’Laugh In’ meets ’The Monkees’ meets, in the words of Troy McClure of ’The Simpsons’, the finest R-rated movies that Europe has to offer. The film offers almost non-stop topless women and dozens of vampire jokes and sight gags. But, the film is never really funny, titiliating, or scary. The film is from Germany and was obviously dubbed, so maybe something was lost in the translation. And why would Dracula come in a helicopter?!
Despite the film’s dated feel, the Anchor Bay DVD of ’The Vampire Happening’ doesn’t look old at all. The film has been given an anamorphic transfer which is letterboxed at 1.85:1. The image is very crisp and shows only some slight grain and defects from the source material. Being from 1970, there are a lot of garrish colors at the vampire party and the DVD does an excellent job of presenting these hues in a vibrant fashion, with no saturation. The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital Mono, which isn’t surprising for a foreign film from this period. The only extra on the DVD is the trailer for the film, which is chocked full of nudity and promises that the film is ’coming soon to this theater.’ Now why do I think that ’The Vampire Happening’ didn’t hit the local multiplex?