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Daughters of Darkness (1971)

Les lèvres rouges (original title)
R | | Horror | 22 October 1971 (USA)
A newlywed couple are passing through a vacation resort. Their paths cross with a mysterious, strikingly beautiful countess and her aide.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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Paul Esser ...
Georges Jamin ...
Retired Policeman
Joris Collet ...
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Storyline

A chic, good-looking and suitably 70's couple arrive at an extravagant and deserted seaside hotel after eloping. Stefan is wealthy and happily English, with a hidden streak of sadism, while Valarie is intelligent but of inferior (Swedish) blood. To keep her with him at the eerie hotel he lies consistantly about his relationship with his mother and his plans to tell her of their marriage. Meanwhile he has mysterious phone conversations with an older, dominant and pampered sissy. Two fresh guests arrive; the Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory and her voluptuous protege, Ilona. Virgin corpses begin showing up about the city drained of their blood. A wary detective lurks around the hotel taunting his only suspect, the Countess. Written by kwedgwood@hotmail.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

An erotic nightmare of vampire lust [DVD] See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

22 October 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Daughters of Darkness  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(uncut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During filming, director Harry Kumel hit actress Danielle Ouimet during a dispute. Actor John Karlen was so infuriated by this behavior that he punched Kumel in the face. The atmosphere on the set was understandably tense afterwards. See more »

Goofs

When Ilona is lying on the bathroom floor, bikini marks are visible. Vampires are not supposed to have tan lines. See more »

Quotes

Countess Bathory: I feel it in my bones, the night is dying...
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Connections

Featured in Daughters of Darkness: Playing the Victim (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Les Lèvres Rouges (Thème)
Written and Performed by François de Roubaix And Orchestra
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User Reviews

 
psychosexual fever dream
1 October 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I was fortunate enough to unwind last night with Harry Kumel's erotic and Stygian "Daughters of Darkness" (Les Lèvres Rouges). It is a tasteful vampire movie (an oxymoron?).

Let me start by saying that the art direction is astonishing. If ever a building was elevated to the status of a character, it would be the off-season and deserted Grand Hotel des Thermes in Ostend where the majority of the film is set. Its de Chirico-esqe arcades and columns shot in their full crepuscular splendour separate the action from the real world, enveloping the players in a metaphysical demi-monde. One senses from the beginning the film's perversity, everything is set in Melvillean twilights and dusks, somewhere ephemeral, between or beyond good and evil. The travelling couple of the vampire movie, the man generally virtuous and upstanding, the woman meek and ingenue, in this case are replaced by a fractured and sensual pair. He announces on the night-train to Ostend, "I don't love you", which she parrots back, and they decide that this means that they are perfectly matched.

The soundtrack is perfectly atmospheric sub-Nyman, and the sense of colour is almost unmatched in film history. Twilight exterior shots, in the mode of Whistler are interposed with glowing yellow interiors. The exquisite monochrome costumes perfectly match the psychosexual themes. Particularly memorable is Delphine Seyrig in a flowing scarlet dress sipping a turquoise cocktail from a martini glass.

Whilst this is a perfectly cast movie, one would have to say that Delphine Seyrig as the countess Elizabeth Bathory runs away with the show in a screen-stealing performance. The sensuality of her voice is reminiscent of fever dreams, and the subtlety of her expression turns what could have been, in the wrong hands, a porno flick, into a Schnitzlerian psychosexual drama par excellence.

There were a few false notes, some ludicrous Hammer-inspired shots towards the end plus a less than satisfying codicil whose raison d'etre seems to be a false belief in the relevance of the plot. But all of this can be sorted with judicious editing and doesn't really detract from the general tone of the movie. Watch this, but beware it is a truly adult fairytale and an explicit exploration of sadomasochism.


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