While the title of the film is simply The Vampire and The Ballerina, there is less emphasis on "vampire" and more on "ballerina." Specifically, a heavy emphasis on Polselli's part on emphasizing his young actresses with a fondness for longing camera looks into their eyes, medium shots above their cleavage, and obsessive captures of these ladies' legs. The teasing in this film is enough to send most of the young gents into a tingling frenzy, rushing home after the cinema without consulting any magazines that evening. Polselli takes the time to break his narrative in the film, like in an El Santo film with a wrestling match, to treat the viewer to two dancing sequences. The first is a fun upbeat song and dance, with the ladies in their leotards, with Polselli's camera near the floor. The second dance is both campy and sexy: the choreographer gets the idea of integrating vampire lore into the productions. He begins to play a tune and the ladies begin interpretive dance: sexy, sensuous moves with lots of shots of long legs, cigarette smoke, and quite a bit of gyrating. A vampire is included in the narrative, as I was apt to forget from time to time, and Polselli adds some interesting touches. For example, after the young maiden is bitten from the initial scene, she later dies and is buried. The vampire arrives at the cemetery and digs up her corpse. She rises as one of the undead, only to be staked by the vampire who made her and driving her back into the grave. This vampire is an egotistical one: the Countess (what a shock) is also a vampire who is tortured by this grim soul. She's not allowed to leave the castle and feeds only when the vampire allows her. He threatens the Countess by using the weaknesses they both share against her, like banishing her to sunlight if she disobeys.
The vampire portion of the narrative is traditional, cheesy, and fun, yet the true charm of The Vampire and the Ballerina is its leisurely pace and scenes with Gloriani's Francesca and Remy's Luisa. Two fantastic performances, as the two characters go from close friends to near adversaries. Young and handsome Luca and the Countess have a terrific scene together, as the Countess attempts to seduce Luca in order for him to free her from the castle. The meandering pacing of the film is fun, because the performances are so good. When the narrative is close to ending, it's awkwardly wrapped up. I didn't find this aspect disconcerting. Of all the participants in this production, the most notable is co-writer and assistant director, Ernesto Gastaldi, with one of his earliest credits. Gastaldi is a legendary Italian screenwriter who wrote some of my all-time favorite genre films, such as Sergio Martino's Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972), Torso (1973), and Umberto Lenzi's Almost Human (1974). He has numerous credits, and his screenplays are often smartly-written and creative.
Practically forgotten or overshadowed by other genre films of the period, The Vampire and The Ballerina is true campy fun and is waiting to be uncovered by the curious.