Watching the documentary Vampira: The Movie, you’ll find it hard to believe that Maila Nurmi, the woman behind the sexy vampiric horror host persona, was in her eighties when she was interviewed! And not just interviewed. Maila basically just gets to tell her story. She’s absolutely mesmerizing, even without her long black locks and low cut black dress.
That’s what makes Kevin Sean Michaels’ film such a great slice of horror history. It’s not just a case of a director picking a subject, researching it, and then spitting back what he’s discovered. This is coming predominantly from the woman herself. Maila reveals just how Vampira was born, recounts her experiences in Hollywood, and gives us a great peek into working on Plan 9 from Outer Space with Ed Woods, in which she appears as her Vampira persona. She also has plenty of stories about her interactions with stars like Bela Lugosi, Marlon Brando, and James Dean…as well as the shocking truth about her miniscule waist.
There are also short interviews with horror icons about the impact Vampira has had on them, including Debbie Rochon, Lloyd Kaufman, Sid Haig, Forrest J. Ackerman, Julie Strain, Bill Moseley, and John Zacherle of “Dinner with Drac” fame. There’s even a brief interview with Cassandra Peterson, who was sued by Maila early on, accused of stealing the Vampira shtick when creating the Elvira character. On top of all that, even a member of the horror punk band The Misfits tells a story about his run-in with Vampira!
If you’re a horror hound and love the history of the genre on celluloid, Vampira: The Movie is like an intimate conversation with one of the pioneers of the scene. It would be great if all the old hosting footage of Vampira still existed but there’s very little left, so getting a glimpse of it in this film is a treat. And after watching the film, I can almost guarantee you’re going to want to get a copy of Plan 9 from Outer Space to see Vampira in her element.
Seeing the screening at Bent-Con, I also got to witness the horror host presenting the movie; it’s my deadly friend Mistress Azrael! After the performance, Mistress Azrael, a lover of both Vampira and Elvira, sits down with director Kevin Sean Michaels to talk about the film…on a gothic red couch, of course!
And the Vampira theme kept going at Bent-Con, because artist Jack Foster, whose table was right across from mine, was selling this art print, which you can get on his website Reckless Eyeballs.