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In Paris, France, a crazed duchess, obsessed with retaining her youth, has her scientist lover kill various women and draining their blood for her use while a smug journalist seeks out leads for the so-called 'vampire murders' and links a local drug addict to the case whom is connected to the mad scientist. Written by
Atmospheric trend starter; made better by Mario Bava!
Paris is plagued by a murder spree. French reporter Pierre LaSalle (Dario Michaelis) is hot on the trail of what he thinks is a vampire killing off young strippers. LaSalle is also being courted to his dismay by his ex-lover, Giselle du Grand (Gianna Maria Canale - Goliath vs the Vampire), granddaughter of the mysterious Duchesse du Grand. Meanwhile, across town at the Institute of Experimental Surgery, the Duchesse is working with professor Julien du Grand (Antoine Balpêtré) to help develop artificial blood. Soon enough, reporter LaSalle gathers enough clues to confirm his crazy theory, and soon learns the truth about the Duchesse, the professor and even Giselle.
This film is the foundation of the short-lived Italian gothic horror sub-genre. Containing much of the elements of the classic American horror films of the 40s (dimly lit corridors, musty dungeons, mad doctors, rotting skeletons etc), this atmospheric production didn't do well in Italy. Only years later, after the success of the Hammer Studios (England) gothic horror revival, was this movie rediscovered and appreciated for what it was. Director of photography Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Lisa and the Devil) gives a great look to this Elisabeth Bathory-inspired tale, using low angle shots and highly contrasted lighting. Bava also took over direction when Freda left the set halfway through production. Look for a young Paul Müller (Nightmare Castle, Bram Stoker's Count Dracula) as the hired killer.
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