The Fearless Vampire Killers, Or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck (1967)

91 mins | Comedy, Horror | 13 November 1967

Director:

Roman Polanski

Producer:

Gene Gutowski

Cinematographer:

Douglas Slocombe

Production Designer:

Wilfred Shingleton

Production Companies:

Cadre Films , Filmways, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film was initially titled The Dance of the Vampires, as noted in an 8 Dec 1965 Var news item, which stated that it would be the first of four pictures to be directed by Roman Polanski for executive producer Martin Ransohoff’s Filmways, Inc. Set to co-produce was Cadre Films, Polanski’s company with producer Gene Gutowski. Principal photography was scheduled to begin in Feb 1966 in Great Britain and Austria. The 3 Jan 1966 DV speculated that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. was likely to distribute, and announced the casting of Jack MacGowran. Actress Jill St. John was under consideration for a role, at that time.
       The production budget was cited as under $1 million in a 21 Jan 1966 DV brief, which stated that Martin Ransohoff might finance the picture alone. A 16 Nov 1967 LAT item later claimed the original budget was around $600,000. On 16 Feb 1966, LAT confirmed that MGM would release the picture, now titled The Vampire Killers. Production was scheduled to begin in the South Tyrol province of northern Italy. There, three weeks of location filming commenced either 23 or 24 Feb 1966, according to conflicting reports in the 22 Feb 1966 and 25 Feb 1966 issues of DV. An article in the 28 Aug 1966 LAT noted that “early spring-like weather destroyed the deep snow” in the mountains near Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, where filming was taking place, prompting a move to the Langkofel range of the Italian Dolomites. By mid-Apr 1966, production had moved to MGM Studios at Elstree in Borehamwood, England, the 17 Apr 1966 ... More Less

The film was initially titled The Dance of the Vampires, as noted in an 8 Dec 1965 Var news item, which stated that it would be the first of four pictures to be directed by Roman Polanski for executive producer Martin Ransohoff’s Filmways, Inc. Set to co-produce was Cadre Films, Polanski’s company with producer Gene Gutowski. Principal photography was scheduled to begin in Feb 1966 in Great Britain and Austria. The 3 Jan 1966 DV speculated that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. was likely to distribute, and announced the casting of Jack MacGowran. Actress Jill St. John was under consideration for a role, at that time.
       The production budget was cited as under $1 million in a 21 Jan 1966 DV brief, which stated that Martin Ransohoff might finance the picture alone. A 16 Nov 1967 LAT item later claimed the original budget was around $600,000. On 16 Feb 1966, LAT confirmed that MGM would release the picture, now titled The Vampire Killers. Production was scheduled to begin in the South Tyrol province of northern Italy. There, three weeks of location filming commenced either 23 or 24 Feb 1966, according to conflicting reports in the 22 Feb 1966 and 25 Feb 1966 issues of DV. An article in the 28 Aug 1966 LAT noted that “early spring-like weather destroyed the deep snow” in the mountains near Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, where filming was taking place, prompting a move to the Langkofel range of the Italian Dolomites. By mid-Apr 1966, production had moved to MGM Studios at Elstree in Borehamwood, England, the 17 Apr 1966 LAT reported. An article in the 5 Jul 1967 Var indicated that some filming also took place in West Berlin, West Germany. The original twelve-week schedule extended to twenty-one weeks, more than doubling the budget, as noted in a 15 Nov 1967 Var item, which cited a final cost of nearly $2 million.
       Filmways executive Michael Mindlin, Jr. directed a ten-minute short film about the production. A news brief in the 27 Jul 1966 Var deemed the promotional picture Mindlin, Jr.’s directorial debut. British actor Max Wall appeared in the film as a vampire expert.
       The 15 Mar 1967 Var noted a title change to Your Teeth in My Neck. By early Jul 1967, the title had again been changed to The Fearless Vampire Killers. The subtitle Or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck was added later.
       Polanski was invited to screen the picture at the Berlin Film Festival, but he did not accept as a result of a dispute with Ransohoff. The 5 Jul 1967 Var explained that, according to Polanski’s deal, Filmways had the right to alter the U.S. release version without his approval. Thus, Ransohoff had overseen the cutting of twenty minutes of footage, plus the re-dubbing of voices, including the replacement of Polanski’s voice, which was considered unintelligible due to his heavy accent, with another actor’s. Although Polanski’s version was set to be shown outside the U.S., Filmways attempted to coerce Polanski to show the U.S. version at the Berlin Film Festival, instead. The disagreement led to the film not being shown at all. The situation escalated, and on 14 Nov 1967, NYT reported that Polanski had requested that his name be removed from screen credits and advertising for the U.S. version. Speaking for Polanski, Gene Gutowski stated that the film had “been so radically changed by reasons of recutting, redubbing, revoicing, altered dialogue, altered sound track and altered sound effects that it no longer represents the motion picture created, written and directed by Roman Polanski.” Ransohoff defended the alterations, as stated in the 15 Nov 1967 Var, and claimed that Polanski had directed all actors to speak in “heavy accents” to match his own, causing some viewers great difficulty in understanding any of their lines. The 16 Nov 1967 LAT reported that Gutowski had joined Polanski in asking for his name to be removed from credits.
       The film’s 13 Nov 1967 opening in New York City was met with negative reviews. Bosley Crowther’s critique in the 14 Nov 1967 NYT described the picture as “dismal and dead as a blood-drained corpse,” and stated, “Perhaps [Polanski’s] film has been mutilated, but I cannot imagine what might have been so rich about the excised material that would cause it to make the film better than it is.” A 7 Feb 1968 Var item provided more details about the cuts that had been made, stating that “a singing motif” involving the count’s homosexual vampire-son had been eliminated, as well as some sound effects, “such as an accelerating series of waterdrops in a bathroom sink to create tension.” Var also relayed Polanski’s complaint that the color processing on the U.S. version was far inferior to the overseas version processed in London, England, which the director had deemed “just delightful.” When Polanski’s original cut premiered in Paris, France, in early Feb 1968, the director attended the event with Sharon Tate, whom he had recently married, as noted in the 14 Feb 1968 Var.
       According to a 30 Mar 1966 Var brief, Krov Menuhin was set to make his feature film acting debut in the picture as “a skiing vampire.” Akim Tamiroff, who was initially cast in the role of “Shagal, an innkeeper,” fell ill during shooting and was replaced by Alfie Bass, the 22 Apr 1966 DV reported. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Feb 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1966
p. 6.
Daily Variety
22 Apr 1966
p. 13.
Daily Variety
23 May 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 Feb 1968
p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
27 Dec 1965
Section D, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
16 Feb 1966
Section D, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
11 Mar 1966
Section C, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1966
Section B, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
28 Aug 1966
Section B, p. 9, 35.
Los Angeles Times
16 Nov 1967
Section D, p. 20.
New York Times
26 Nov 1966
p. 40.
New York Times
14 Nov 1967
p. 52.
New York Times
3 Dec 1967
p. 1, 19.
Variety
8 Dec 1965
p. 21.
Variety
15 Dec 1965
p. 26.
Variety
23 Feb 1966
p. 33.
Variety
30 Mar 1966
p. 18.
Variety
27 Jul 1966
p. 21.
Variety
15 Mar 1967
p. 4.
Variety
26 Apr 1967
p. 101.
Variety
5 Jul 1967
p. 7.
Variety
30 Aug 1967
p. 5.
Variety
15 Nov 1967
p. 6.
Variety
15 Nov 1967
p. 7.
Variety
7 Feb 1968
p. 18.
Variety
14 Feb 1968
p. 23.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Martin Ransohoff-Roman Polanski Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story-scr
Trans of orig french scr
Trans of orig french scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Title des
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Your Teeth in My Neck
The Dance of the Vampires
The Vampire Killers
The Fearless Vampire Killers
Release Date:
13 November 1967
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 13 November 1967
Production Date:
began 23 or 24 February 1966
Copyright Claimant:
Cadre Films
Copyright Date:
31 December 1966
Copyright Number:
LP35102
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
91
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Armed only with a case of crucifix stakes and a mallet, Professor Abronsius and his assistant, Alfred, arrive at a Transylvanian inn in the dead of winter to find and destroy the dreaded vampires who stalk the area. The villagers are reluctant to help, but the huge bunches of garlic hanging from every beam confirm the professor's suspicions that the town sports a resident vampire. Sarah, the innkeeper's daughter, is victimized by a vampire and abducted, but her parents refuse to help the professor track down the chief vampire. The couple pay for their uncooperativeness: the innkeeper, Yoine Shagal, is found one morning frozen stiff, with the telltale red fang marks over his arms and legs. Rebecca, Shagal's wife, cannot bring herself to save his soul by driving a stake through Shagal's heart. He is left to haunt the inn in lecherous pursuit of their maid. Alfred and Abronsius follow the crazed Shagal one night and arrive at the castle of Count von Krolock, who heads a tribe of vampires, including his homosexual son, Herbert. They find Sarah, but their efforts to save her are foiled by their own incompetence and Alfred's difficulty in discouraging the predatory and lecherous Herbert. The night of the vampires' ball arrives, but before Sarah can be presented, Abronsius and Alfred spirit her away and miraculously escape across the snowy mountains in a sleigh. As they seemingly drive to safety, however, Sarah shows her fangs and bites the enamored Alfred. The professor merrily propels the sleigh onward, unaware he is spreading the very evil he hoped to ... +


Armed only with a case of crucifix stakes and a mallet, Professor Abronsius and his assistant, Alfred, arrive at a Transylvanian inn in the dead of winter to find and destroy the dreaded vampires who stalk the area. The villagers are reluctant to help, but the huge bunches of garlic hanging from every beam confirm the professor's suspicions that the town sports a resident vampire. Sarah, the innkeeper's daughter, is victimized by a vampire and abducted, but her parents refuse to help the professor track down the chief vampire. The couple pay for their uncooperativeness: the innkeeper, Yoine Shagal, is found one morning frozen stiff, with the telltale red fang marks over his arms and legs. Rebecca, Shagal's wife, cannot bring herself to save his soul by driving a stake through Shagal's heart. He is left to haunt the inn in lecherous pursuit of their maid. Alfred and Abronsius follow the crazed Shagal one night and arrive at the castle of Count von Krolock, who heads a tribe of vampires, including his homosexual son, Herbert. They find Sarah, but their efforts to save her are foiled by their own incompetence and Alfred's difficulty in discouraging the predatory and lecherous Herbert. The night of the vampires' ball arrives, but before Sarah can be presented, Abronsius and Alfred spirit her away and miraculously escape across the snowy mountains in a sleigh. As they seemingly drive to safety, however, Sarah shows her fangs and bites the enamored Alfred. The professor merrily propels the sleigh onward, unaware he is spreading the very evil he hoped to destroy. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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