A lesbian vampire couple waylay and abduct various passer-byes, both male and female, to hold them captive at their rural manor in the English countryside in order to kill and feed on them to satisfy their insatiable thirst for blood.
José Ramón Larraz
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This low budget first film from director Jean Rollin is in reality two very loosely-connected, surreally erotic shorts about vampirism. In the first, three Parisians including a psychoanalyst try to convince four neurotic sisters living in a decaying country chateau that their belief that they are 200 year old vampires is false. The alluring young women are influenced and controlled by a enigmatic disembodied voice which turns out to be the an aging, aristocratic lord of the manor, whose motives are unclear but clearly perverse. Local rustics unite to hunt down and kill the sanguine siblings. In the second, the Queen of the Vampires and her acolytes arrive on the scene, resurrect the dead, and promulgate the cause of the Undead while a medical researcher works to find an antidote to vampirism. Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
Because of the events of May 1968 in Paris, French distributors, fearing for the box office, decided to freeze their activities until it went back to normal. As a result, no other new feature was released during that period apart from this one. Consequently, by lack of competitors, it became the most successful film of the year in France. See more »
Give me the kiss of the vampire.
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Jean Rollin is a director who certainly divides opinion. Even amongst the horror community his films are at most marginally appreciated. The reason for this is that his movies don't really follow conventions of that genre very much at all. They are usually more interested in capturing surreal imagery than scaring the audience. The atmosphere in these films is less sinister and more melancholic. His movies often owe more to experimental cinema than Hammer horror. That said, Rollin's movies certainly belong in the horror genre. It's just that he uses typical iconography of the genre vampires, graveyards, crumbling Gothic buildings in unusual ways. The Rape of the Vampire is his debut feature and while it is atypically filmed in black and white, it is essentially pure Rollin. It's basically a template film and he would rework its basic ideas time and again but mostly with better results.
A psychoanalyst visits a château which is inhabited by four vampire sisters. He tries to convince them that they are not in fact vampires at all. An old charlatan seems to be manipulating these women into thinking thus and he eventually turns the local villagers against them. This ends in bloody vengeance. But just as events turn most tragic, in from nowhere enters the Queen of the Vampires. It turns out that these sisters were actually vampires after all.
Are you confused? Yeah well, it doesn't entirely make a lot of sense it has to be said! It wouldn't be very unfair to say that it's a somewhat baffling movie overall. It doesn't really have a very coherent plot-line. Or rather it sort of does and then gets mighty confusing as it progresses. This is down to the fact that it was originally a thirty minute short film that Rollin extended to feature length by adding additional material. Part one is called 'The Rape of the Vampire' and part two 'The Vampire Women'. The first half is easily the best. It's much more cohesive with some excellent photography. The second part of the film introduces several new characters, including the Queen of the Vampires. The problem with it is that it feels like it's tagged on primarily to extend the running time, and there isn't enough ideas to do this effectively. It becomes confusing and lacks the overall style of the earlier part.
The best way to appreciate the film and Rollin movies in general is to just take in the odd atmosphere and bizarre imagery. The plot is not ultimately very important to be honest. Like all of the director's films, this one has pretty bad dialogue and amateur acting. So really there's quite a lot the average viewer needs to overlook if they are going to enjoy one of Rollin's films. This one, like all his films, isn't accessible at all. It's extremely left-field and will understandably irritate many who watch it. But for those of you who have a fondness for the strange style of this horror auteur, well this is where it all started and there is plenty to appreciate. It's not one of his stronger efforts to be fair but it's certainly typical enough.
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