This is about some very talented proselytizers for death, or should we say, living death.

In 1966 Roman Polanski released a haunting and brilliant little film entitled The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me but Your Teeth Are in My Neck. It was supposed to be a comedy. In 1997 Jim Steinman, of Meatloaf fame, and Michael Kunze created a German-language musical version of Polanski’s movie, this time on stage, in Vienna. Polanski directed, and it was called Tanz der Vampire (“Dance of the Vampires”), which had been Polanski’s original title for his movie.
The musical version, which Americans didn’t see because its translation to Broadway flopped, is an extremely deft thing. You cannot shake the ‘hook’ of “Knoblauch” (“Garlic”), nor the overwhelming dark romanticism of “Totale Finsternis” (“Utter Darkness”). Steinman’s soaring melodies and Kunze’s either-or philosophy of death — which works from ideas implicit in the 1966 film but takes them over the edge — are unforgettable. They make you want to jump off a cliff, straight into the undead embrace of Count von Krolock; and thereby join his army of missionaries who long, with unstillbare Gier (“unquenchable desire”), to “eat your soul”.  
However, Tanz der Vampire is not funny. The reason it’s not funny is that it means business. It is one serious musical! Its over-all effect is so completely bewitching, the tunes are so catchy and so elegantly done, the rich colors and splendid voices — tho’ it’s mainly the songs — are so impressive, that it makes you want to sign up.

Polanski’s 1966 movie is a delight, tho’ again, if you see it more than once or twice, the current of its flow starts to take you somewhere. Like the ‘Sarah’ and ‘Alfred’ characters in the story, you may not want to go there. But you’ll find yourself wanting to. The 1997 musical actually takes you there, and it’s not Strawberry Fields.

Podcast 38 looks at “Tanz der Vampire” as an evangelistic exercise.  It is not neutral. Its makers are ‘proclaiming’! They’re inviting. “Tanz der Vampire” is an altar call.
Though I love Jim Steinman’s music, and you will, too, I’m glad it flopped.  
Episode 38 of PZ’s Podcast is dedicated to Ethan Magness. Ethan was the first person I met who loved “Tanz der Vampire” as I do. Ethan and I met one day “high in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains”.

[Ed. note: You may be surprised to hear Steinman (brilliantly) plagiarizing one of his masterpieces in the following riveting/insane/awesome performance of “Totale Finsternis”… aka Bonnie Tyler’s truly immortal “Total Eclipse of the Heart”]: