Right from the opening credits, this film perfectly captures the atmosphere of a snow- covered Transylvania, plagued by the sinister menace of an evil that the locals would rather keep under wraps. When the hapless Alfred (Roman Polanski) and his master Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) arrive at an inn for the night, they stumble upon a community reluctant to discuss their embarrassing secret. The obvious clues, however, give the game away as to who, or more accurately, what, might be at large. "What is all the garlic doing here?" asks a suspicious Professor Abronsius, followed by the next obvious (to a vampire hunter) question; "Is there a castle in the district?" The exaggeratedly Jewish local innkeeper Shagal (played brilliantly by Alfie Bass) does his best to feign ignorance, as nearly all of the villagers clam up tight, but the game is afoot.
Add to the recipe the beautiful innkeeper's daughter (the simply lovely Sharon Tate) with whom Alfred falls instantly in love, and the scene is set for a wonderful tale of good over evil in the twilight world of the un-dead.
The thread of humour, horror and besotted love weaves it's way seamlessly to the climax of the film, the Vampire's Ball. There are many subtle jokes along the way, as well as some very obvious slapstick, but the lair of the vampires is truly menacing and with a haunting score to emphasise the plot, this film simply works on many levels.
It is a shame the film is generally hailed as a spoof, not helped by it's overly-complicated American title (The British title, "Dance of the Vampires", was far more fitting I think), because it is a cult classic if ever there was one.