1981 94 mins
Subtitles : English
“Herz’s demented shocker has been likened to VIDEODROME meets CRASH. A satire on consumerism, a potent piece of anti-automobile propaganda, and perhaps the purest horror exercise that Herz produced.” – Nick Pinkerton, METROGRAPH
Czech New Wave actor and director Jiri Menzel stars as Dr. Marek, an ordinary, somewhat nerdy ambulance driver who finds himself at the centre of a mystery involving a strange car that may or may not run on human blood as fuel. When Marek and his paramedic crew partner Mima (Dagmar Veskrnová) stumble across a racing-car driver with an injured foot while out on a call, they initially think little of the woman’s complaint — dismissing her injury as non-serious — until she turns up dead shortly after as a result of a serious crash that appears to have no obvious cause. While Marek wants to investigate the company that made the driver’s strange car — run by a suspicious wealthy woman, Madame Ferat — for shady goings on, Mima swaps sides, offering to drive one of Ferat’s prestige vehicles in a high-profile race under the mentorship of a corrupt retired racing driver.
While director Juraj Herz was just about the closest Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia got to a “horror director’ — with many of his films featuring aspects of gothic, eroticism, and dark fantasy — it took until 1982 for him to realize an actual horror film (in the Western sense of the word) with FERAT VAMPIRE
. Unlike his previous gothic, fantasy infused films, this one has a contemporary vibe, meshing elements of science fiction, with erotic notes, and visceral horror; including one seriously disturbing fantasy scene that wouldn’t look out of place in the work of David Cronenberg from the same era. Hertz’s film came out a year before the filmic adaptation of Stephen King’s CHRISTINE
(1983) and while it shares some traits in common — ambiguity, an emphasis on psychological horror — under Herz’s unique command the concept becomes a potent tool for dark social satire. Presented in a new 2K restoration by Národní filmový archiv, courtesy of Severin Films. – Kat Ellinger