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Blu-Ray : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: March 26th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1960

The Playgirls and the Vampire

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Matthew Hartman

Aficionados of bloodsuckers and Italian Gothic Horror can now celebrate Piero Regnoli’s incredibly entertaining The Playgirls and the Vampire on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome. When a troupe of showgirls and their manager are stranded at a mysterious castle, they uncover an incredible horror that threatens all of their lives. The film looks and sounds great offering both Italian and English audio with a fine selection of bonus features. For a good creepy flick on a dark stormy night - Recommended

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Region Free Blu-ray
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/MPEG-4 AVC
Length:
81
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.66:1
Audio Formats:
DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono: Italian Mono with English subtitles + English dub
Subtitles/Captions:
Newly translated English subtitles
Release Date:
March 26th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

It’s a horror plot setup almost as old as time: a group of young folks find themselves stranded at a remote location. Where they thought they’d found safety, they discover a horror nothing in life has prepared them for. If you’re thinking you’ve seen that movie, chances are you have a few times with a variety of creatures. It’s been a staple for so long it’s fed the plots for countless horror films with only subtle variations. Sometimes it’s a castle, sometimes it’s a farm, sometimes it’s an island in the Pacific and the monster is a weird mutant man-spider. While the plot setup for The Playgirls and the Vampire is familiar, director Piero Regnoli’s sole foray into horror as a director is an entertaining gothic creeper. 

Five young and beautiful exotic dancers, their daffy manager Lucas (Alfredo Rizzo), and their piano player are traveling to their next gig. But big storms have it in for women in such situations. When such a storm causes their minibus to get stuck miles from any town or hotel, the group takes refuge at the castle of Count Gabor Kernassy (Walter Brandi). The group initially basks in their good fortunes to find shelter, but soon Vera (Lyla Rocco) discovers a terrible horror - a vampire resides in the bowels of the castle, and he is very hungry!

I hadn’t seen The Playgirls and the Vampire in most of twenty years. At one time, long ago, I blind bought the Image Entertainment DVD during one of my many large purchase excursions at Media Play (may they RIP). After digging through my big title purchases I fired this film up and it became an instant favorite. It’s that perfect mix of horror, humor, and sexuality that doesn’t dip too far one way or the other. The film is creepy without only focusing on horror and gore. The film has a sense of humor without being too slapstick or daffy letting small laughs have their moment without upending the film's tone. The Playgirls and the Vampire is erotic without being full erotica, teasing sexuality without becoming gratuitous. 

Fritz Bottger’s Horrors of Spider Island is the immediate comparison The Playgirls and the Vampire springs to mind. Both films were released in 1960 and feature a troupe of wayward exotic dancers who become stranded at a remote location and are stalked by a horrific creature. While I do love Horrors of Spider Island, it is a damned goofy movie. The “Spider” isn’t scary and rather silly-looking, while the focus is mostly aimed at the assets of the female cast instead of creating a genuinely suspenseful horror flick. It made for one hell of a classic MST3K episode. On the other hand, The Playgirls and the Vampire is a more true-to-form horror film with an erotic edge. While it lacks the great Alexander D’Arcy in a monster mask with furry-clawed hands, this film’s titular vampire is a classic creature of the night and is actually scary by comparison.

It’d been so many years since I sat down with The Playgirls and the Vampire and the recent wave of inclement weather proved the perfect time to revisit it. With dark gray skies and sheets of rain, it was the right environment to return to the crypts. When it’s funny, it’s genuinely comical. When it’s scary and atmospheric and suspenseful. Piero Regnoli executed a crafty horror film with some striking imagery paced to gradually increase the mystery and suspense with plenty of creeks and bumps in the darkness. A damn fun flick from beginning to end and a real treat to see it on Blu-ray looking this great!



Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Playgirls and the Vampire
 haunts home video on Blu-ray with a single-disc release thanks to Vinegar Syndrome. Pressed on a Region Free BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard clear case with slipcover. The case insert art is reversible depicting the original theatrical poster art. The disc loads to an animated main menu with standard navigation options.

Video Review

Ranking:

Sourced from a new 4K restoration of the fine grain master, The Playgirls and the Vampire is treated to a bloody terrific 1080p 1.661 transfer. My old DVD was sadly stolen when I was in college so I don’t have that for an immediate comparison, but to say this disc is an improvement is an understatement. I was immediately struck by the clarity of this transfer Facial features, makeup work, the intricate set design work, and the vampire’s crypt all look fantastic with a fine layer of naturally cinematic grain swirling and whirling about. The black and white grayscale is excellent with some nice deep inky blacks and wonderfully creepy shadows. There is still some wear and tear evident, slight speckling, a few small scratches here and there, but nothing horrible or distracting. If anything for a feature like this the slight damage actually lends a little presentation flavor. A true treat to see looking this good.

Audio Review

Ranking:

On the audio from Vinegar Syndrome has done right by fans offering up two audio options. You can enjoy the film with its original Italian language (with new English subtitles) presented in DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono or the English dub in DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono. While the Italian is the best way to see the film, I have to say the English dub is pretty solid. Some obvious translation discrepancies aside, the English track sounds very good and syncs well with the acting with robust sound effects and scoring. The Italian track is equally impressive and the new English subs read a little more accurately to the spoken language. So it all comes down to the flavor of the experience. Both tracks sound clean without any egregious hiss, cracks, or other age-related issues.

Special Features

Ranking:

Vinegar Syndrome donates a pint or two of rich bonus features blood for this Blu-ray edition. The meatiest segment is a conversation piece with Mark Thompson Ashworth discussing the film. The piece plays a little like an abbreviated audio commentary discussing the film but also the glut of vampire films in the wake of Hammer’s first Dracula entry. At about twenty-six minutes it’s the lengthiest bit. After that, we have alternate opening title sequences for the different releases and a still gallery with a theatrical trailer of the film. Not the biggest bunch of extras ever but well worth checking out. 

  • Striptease Gothic - A Conversation with Mark Thompson Ashworth (HD 25:56)
  • Original Trailer (SD 1:42)
  • Alternate The Playgirls and the Vampire Opening Title Sequence (HD 3:19)
  • Alternate Curse of the Vampire Opening Title (HD 1:44)
  • Alternate De Filles Pour Un Vampire French Title Sequence (SD 3:41)
  • Still Gallery

The Playgirls and the Vampire probably isn’t the best gothic horror vampire flick out there, but it’s a fun and creepy entry. The film’s simple and to-the-point plot with Piero Regnoli’s skilled execution delivers some solid frights, a few laughs, and some cheeky exploits. A very fun film for a dark and stormy night, Vinegar Syndrome delivers an excellent Blu-ray release. I hadn’t seen the film in years but this new transfer looks terrific and both the English dubbed and original Italian audio with new English subtitles are great options for fans to choose from. Bonus features are a little slim, but well worth digging into. Recommended 

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