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Film / Fangs of the Living Dead

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Fangs of the Living Dead (also known as Malenka) is a 1969 Hispano-Italian horror film directed by Amando de Ossorio and starring Anita Ekberg.

Two weeks before her wedding, an Italian model learns that she has inherited a castle and a noble title in the quaint little principality of Waldruck. After arriving at the castle, she discovers that her uncle is a vampire, and he won't allow her to leave.

This film provides examples of:

  • Agent Scully: Piero remains a man of science in the face of magical weirdness. "Whatever it is, it can be explained logically!"
  • Alternate DVD Commentary: In 2013, Fangs of the Living Dead was the subject of a RiffTrax commentary featuring Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: In the last few seconds of the film, we see that Max has been transformed into a vampire. This is Played for Laughs.
  • Backing into Danger: Silvia does this, and promptly backs into the Count.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Max becomes sillier as the film goes on.
    Max: Garlic tickles my nose and makes me sneeze!
    Kevin Murphy: The most shameful Italian man ever.
  • Burn the Witch!: Malenka was burned at the stake by "the ignorant".
  • Cat Fight: Blinka versus Bertha — featuring scratching, flailing, and hair-pulling.
  • Chill of Undeath: When Silvia kisses her uncle, his cheek is cold. He explains, "It's a very cold night."
  • Death by Despair:
    Silvia: At least tell me how my mother died!
    The count: Of melancholy.
  • Dies Wide Open: Arriving to find Bertha dead, Piero closes her eyes.
  • Double Think: Dr. Horbiger seems not to believe in vampires or the supernatural, but later he expresses regret that Bertha's body was not disposed of "in the old way", and leads an expedition to drive a stake through her heart.
  • Dramatic Drop:
    • When the blonde barmaid hears that Silvia is the new countess, she drops a glass of beer. Actually, she waits a few seconds and then drops the glass.
    Kevin Murphy: The surprise took a while to get to her hand.
    • When Silvia sees the count whipping Blinka, she drops a candelabra over the balustrade.
  • Drinking on Duty:
    • One beer for Silvia, one for the barmaid.
    • Dr. Horbiger is an enthusiastic self-medicator.
  • Dutch Angle: Many odd camera angles are used in the scene of Malenka being burned at the stake.
  • Easy Evangelism: The sight of an empty coffin is enough to persuade Silvia of the existence of the undead.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Blinka.
  • Establishing Shot: We're treated to plenty of lingering, superfluous shots of the castle exterior.
    Kevin Murphy: They're establishing the HELL out of this castle! It's erasing any thought in my mind that there might not be a castle there!
  • Fake Nationality: Put an Italian girl in a dirndl and presto, you've got a Transylvanian barmaid. Also Swedish Anita Ekberg playing an Italian.
  • Fanservice: The girl fight in climax.
  • Fangs Are Evil: Subverted. Blinka is a vampire with fangs, but she is benevolent.
  • Fictional Country / Ruritania
    Bill Corbett: Welcome to Waldruck, a tiny country bordered by Freedonia, Guilder, and the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
  • Forced into Their Sunday Best:
    Vladis: The count has given orders that you should wear this dress tonight.
    Bill Corbett: Sure, it's perfectly healthy. Loving families do that. They force each other to wear dresses delivered by huge creepy henchmen.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Dr. Horbiger is drinking Heineken.
  • Generation Xerox: Silvia and her grandmother Malenka are both portrayed by Anita Ekberg, with different hairstyles.
  • Genre Blindness: Silvia shows no apprehension about Waldruck.
    Mike Nelson: Who ever thought that inheriting a spooky castle from a deceased relative could end poorly?
  • Giant Mook: Vladis the coachman.
  • Grave Robbing: Dr. Horbiger decides that Bertha's body must be "dealt with" in the old way.
  • Hemo Erotic: Sometimes played straight, sometimes Played for Laughs.
    Blinka: I need fresh warm human blood.
    Max: (eagerly) Will mine do?
  • Hollywood Torches: The castle crypt is permanently illuminated by dozens of blazing torches. Lightly lampshaded by Silvia.
    Silvia: Do you always keep these lit?
    The count: Yes. In memory and in respect.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Subverted. Dr. Horbiger uses a rosary as protection against Bertha's reanimated corpse, but it doesn't even slow her down.
  • Hong Kong Dub: Every character is dubbed over.
  • Hysterical Woman: When Silvia claims to have seen Bertha alive, her fiance assumes she's just fantasizing.
    Silvia: You don't believe me. You think I'm going mad.
    Piero: Silvia, you're just exhausted. You'd better get some rest. I'll give you something to make you sleep.
  • Instant Waking Skills: Silvia sits up bolt upright immediately on awakening.
  • Ironic Echo Cut:
    Piero: What does the local doctor think about all this?
    Freya: Dr. Horbiger... he never thinks anything.
    ''(Cut to Dr. Horbiger)
    Dr. Horbiger: No, I never think or say anything. What can I say?!
  • Italians Talk with Hands: Played straight with Max. He carries gesticulation to the point of vaudevillian pantomime.
  • Knight in Sour Armor:
    Dr. Horbiger: I've taken the Hippocratic Oath. I'll stay and do what I can. Which isn't very much.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Blinka.
  • Lovable Coward: Part of Max's character. He is shown jumping at noises, trembling at shadows, giggling nervously, and so on. However, he is oblivious to actual danger.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: The Background Music suddenly halts to punctuate the revelation of the family's Dark Secret.
  • Mysterious Mist: In the flashback, Malenka's study is accented with fog from dry ice.
  • Older Than They Look: The count is over 120 years old, but looks middle-aged.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The count was originally mortal, and was made undead by Malenka's "experiments in necro-biology".
  • The Peeping Tom: Vladis peeks through the keyhole as Silvia undresses, but he stops when another of the count's servants catches him in the act.
  • Plot Hole: If Silvia's mother died in 1944, why has it taken until 1969 for Silvia to come into her inheritance?
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Provided mainly by Max.
  • Pretend We're Dead: Silvia pretends to be a mindless vampire under the count's spell. When the count is distracted by the Cat Fight, Silvia breaks character and unchains Piero.
  • Rapid Aging: After being stabbed through the heart, the count ages a century in a few seconds. He eventually turns into a papier mache skeleton and bursts into flames.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The Count claims to Piero that the whole thing is a show put on to drive Sylvia mad and claim her inheritance when no-one believes her about them being vampires, which is why instead of turning Sylvia they tried to convince her she was born one. It's an easy con to pull when they are all actually vampires.
  • The '60s: It's hard to say whose wardrobe is more dated — the Waldruckers with their leather bodices and Tyrolean hats, or the Italians with their Nehru collars and flared trousers.
  • Same Language Dub: Anita Ekberg is one of the few actors in the film who seems to have spoken her lines in English, but she is dubbed as well.
  • Scare Chord: They occur incessantly on the most tenuous pretext. It is common for several to occur in quick succession, with none of them corresponding to anything happening on screen.
  • Science Is Useless:
    Freya: Neither you nor your scientific knowledge could do anything about this. It was beyond your power.
  • Shout-Out / Take That!: "I don't believe my eyes! Silvia... dressed like Lucrezia Borgia!"
  • Slow Doors: Doors in the castle open very slowly, to maximize the suspense.
  • Sounding It Out: Piero reads Silvia's letter aloud, although there is nobody else around.
  • Spooky Animal Sounds: To remind us we're in spookyland, we frequently hear wolves baying at the moon.
  • Spooky Painting: The portrait of Malenka is the first image of the film.
  • Table Space: Averted. The count has a long, narrow dinner table, but he and Silvia sit close together at one end.
  • Tap on the Head: Vladis gives one to Piero, then ties him up.
  • Third-Person Person: "Blinka will look after you. Blinka loves you."
  • Title of the Dead
  • Torches and Pitchforks: How Malenka met her end.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: It's sort of an open secret. They even published a book about it.
    Freya: You'd better read a certain book. It'll tell you about all the horrible things that happened here years ago.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: The plot is kicked off when Silvia discovers that she has inherited a noble title and a castle.
  • Unfazed Everyman:
    (Dr. Horbiger waves a rosary over Bertha's grave.)
    Piero: What are you doing with that?
    Dr. Horbiger: (dismissively) Aww, it's just a protection against the forces of evil.
    Kevin Murphy: How do you sound casual while saying that?
  • Vampires Are Rich: At least rich enough to afford a castle, creepy servants, and an endless supply of torches.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: When the count chains Piero up, he also removes his shirt. No explanation is given.
    The count: Believe me, I'm sorry to have to involve you in my plans, but you are quite obstinate.
    Bill Corbett: (as the count) So you see, I just had to strip your shirt off and chain you to something.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Blinka and Bertha stop their fight to stare when the Count is killed, and are never seen or mentioned again. It's also never really resolved if Bertha was a vampire or just a part of the inheritance scam they were pulling; even the characters thought everything they saw about her coming back from the dead could easily have been faked.
  • With Friends Like These...: It seems like Max accompanied Piero all the way to Waldruck just to discourage his efforts to reunite with Silvia.