The Horror Comedy Co-Starring A Manson Family Victim

By Brian Myers | Updated

Actress and model Sharon Tate was just getting her career off to a start in 1969 when her life was tragically cut short by members of Charles Manson’s cult family. Two years before, the honey-blonde Tate had received critical acclaim for her portrayal as Jennifer North in the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls and was seeing her star quickly rise. Tate also made a name for herself that year, co-starring in the horror-comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers, playing opposite actor/director, Roman Polanski.

Roman Polanski And Sharon Tate Together On Screen

In a remote Transylvanian village, vampire hunters Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) and Alfred (Roman Polanski) find themselves among superstitious townsfolk who are living in fear of a local vampire. The Fearless Vampire Killers finds these two well-meaning (but inept) professionals witness the innkeeper’s daughter Sarah (Sharon Tate) being taken away one night by the infamous Count von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne).

The Film That Van Helsing Ripped Off

Though Sarah’s father tries to rescue her, he is found the next day drained of blood. In an attempt to free Sarah and hopefully dispatch the evil von Krolock, Professor Abronsius and Alfred set out to invade the vampire’s castle. The Fearless Vampire Killers sees both men welcomed into Krolock’s castle, soon becoming prisoners.

It’s revealed that every year, Krolock hosts a vampire ball attended by dozens of bloodsuckers. The highlight of the ball is when the host gives captives to his guests so that they may be drained of their blood. Not to be deterred, Professor Abronsius and Alfred break out of their locked chambers and find themselves in the middle of the vampire ball, where they have to masquerade as vampires.

A Hidden Gem From The Disgraced Director

The Fearless Vampire Killers showed director Polanski in one of his finest endeavors. Along with co-starring duties, the Polish filmmaker also wrote the film’s script, a credit he shares with Gerard Brach. Polanski’s portrayal of the dimwitted Alfred brings about much of the film’s comic relief, showing that he is just as capable in front of the camera as he is behind it.

Sharon Tate Makes The Most Of Every Moment

Jack MacGowran plays the role of Professor Abronsius in an equally comic fashion, though his egghead persona generates laughs in a different vein than Alfred. Sharon Tate plays the quintessential damsel in distress, presenting herself as a more than capable love interest for Alfred and stealing almost every scene she’s in during the entire run of The Fearless Vampire Killers.

A Masterful Blend Of Comedy And Horror

The film performs well as both a comedy and a vampire feature. Polanski’s direction combines well with the actors’ comedic timing and gives audiences good laughs throughout. But The Fearless Vampire Killers can also give its share of shivers. The climactic scene at the vampire ball, where the heroes are made for humans as they dance in front of the mirror, certainly balances the rest of the film’s humor.

Only Available To Stream Through Video On Demand


The Fearless Vampire Killers also makes terrific use of sets, both constructed and natural. The village elicits a sense of quaintness, though with layers that are foreboding. Polanski gives viewers the feeling that they are viewing a real place through a portal in time, adding to the authenticity.

While The Fearless Vampire Killers is not available to stream for free, the classic vampire comedy is available On Demand through Vudu, Google Play, Prime, and AppleTV.