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Lips of Blood has a languid quality that could've registered as
decadence had it been made with any wit whatsoever, but instead of wit
the movie offers us this vapid literal-mindedness. The movie is played
with such soft-core-porn straightness that it's impossible not to
snicker at it. Director Jean Rollin is sometimes described as a
fantasist, but his fantasies are strictly pedestrian. Who but a teenage
Goth-nit-wit could find anything to savor in this somnambulistic tale
of a pale guy with bad hair being menaced by some half-naked chicks
with dime-store vampire fangs? The movie requires more than
suspension-of-disbelief, it requires suspension-of-intellect.
It's striking how amateurish and bereft of energy this movie is. Cult directors like Rollin are usually at least capable of some halfway decent staging, but there aren't even any images that stick with you, any trashy-iconographic moments. The problem is that Rollin himself doesn't seem all that charged up about his fantasies. Directors who deal in this kind of fetishistic material are usually at least somewhat interested in the subject-matter, but judging by this film Rollin could care less about vampires. The scenes all seem to plod on for hours with nothing happening, the cutting so flaccid that it's like we're being encouraged subliminally to nod off. Not a bad idea considering the display of cinematic indifference being carried out before us.
LIPS OF BLOOD is the second Jean Rollin film I've seen and I have to say
that I enjoyed it more than LIVING DEAD GIRL. The acting, script and sets
are very unspectacular, sometimes goofy and somewhat unconvincing, but the
arch of the story is a bit more interesting than the one in LIVING DEAD
GIRL, which I thought was too slow for its own good.
Some scenes were contrived and the script is filled with holes, but I thought the overall film was okay. Nothing earth shattering but it's an enjoyable change of pace and attitude from other (mostly US) horror films out there. LIPS OF BLOOD hasn't turned me off from wanting to see more Jean Rollin films.
"Levres de sang" is one of my favorite Rollin movies. The French cult director often was strong on the visual side and created a dense, dreamlike atmosphere, in this case especially in the dark, deserted city streets, but "Levres de sang" also has a good story to tell about a voyage into the subconscious, a quest for love and death. Briefly, a young man rediscovers traces of his forgotten childhood: the familiar ruin of a castle a photographer has taken pictures of, a mysterious woman in white he believes he met many years before... and vampires who protect him, or so it seems! Needless to say that Rollin always had gorgeous (vampire) women in his films, but here also the male actor Jean-Loup Philippe deserves mentioning. He fills his role with the restless energy of a young Bruce Dern, almost the typical 70s rebel with a cause. A mesmerizing movie not to be missed!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A man finds memories about a vampiress he met as a child rekindled when
he sees a beautiful poster of ruins at a party. He is inspired to seek
out those ruins as he sees visions of the vampiress while others try to
thwart his mission to find her, such as his mother, a supposed girl he
knew from childhood, a hit-man, psychiatric doctor, etc. Yet, anytime
someone tries to halt the man's search for the ruins, vampire girls
kill them allowing him to continue. No matter what his mother tries to
accomplish, this man desires to find this vampiress and will do
whatever it takes to find her. It'll come to a head at the Sauveterre
Castle where the vampiress is buried..will the man, Frederic find
Jenifer? Or, will Frederic finally listen to his mother's pleas at
allowing Jenifer, the vampiress responsible for his own father's death,
to roam free from the tomb of her coffin?
With limited dialogue, it seems director Jean Rollin wishes to capture you with visuals. The problem I had is the visuals are so coldly(..and oddly)displayed, I had a hard time getting involved in the film. Jean-Loup Philippe bored me to tears as Frederic, the young man on his search. He barely registers as the protagonist..actually, his method of acting blends itself well within Rollin's quiet, unenergetic direction which holds silence as things occur on screen at a snail's pace. Annie Belle(The House on the Edge of the Park)is a stunning beauty as the vampiress, but she, like Philippe, often stares blankly towards the screen. The film, quite honestly, has some pretty terrible vampire-bite sequences because the vampire girls simply nookie on their victims. The film is beautiful, with some haunting location work and fluid camera-movement. That alone helps, but I had a hard time staying awake through it.
Not every filmmaker can work from emptiness, it's one of the toughest
lines to toe the thread between sleep and lucid dreaming. It's all the
difference in the world.
Tarkovsky accomplished several times, Resnais in Marienbad, Herzog in Heart of Glass. Lately Lynch and perhaps Weeresethakul. Not to set the bar of comparisons inordinately high of course, but precisely because Rollin does not at all compare, say, with Hammer, even though they've worked from similarly disreputable material, or Bava who looked to simply paint with light, whereas Rollin aims to dream; so exactly because he's a little farther out from what he's often grouped together with, I feel that even when he fails he fails where most horror filmmakers haven't dared to.
Rollin has repeatedly tried and been only moderately successful, when he structures with a single-pointed concentration around a sense of place, but the effort alone places him higher than most horror filmmakers in my estimation. He dares to play dumb enough so that we can perhaps dream for a while; so his plots fail to make sense when we'd like them to, where the storytelling coherence we have devised to chronicle our world would demand it, but it's a strategy of deliberate abstraction. He breaks logic so that we may flow on subconscious winds. From our end as viewers, we need to stay lucid enough to make it work.
The story here is about the quest for a subconscious image from childhood; it involves a seaside castle and a young woman, a repressed memory about these. For most of the film we wander towards it, starting with a scene inside a movie theater where our protagonist gets up and follows the woman through a door. The door is by the stage, giving the impression that he disappears inside the screen.
But that is the thing about emptiness, why Rollin cannot seem to sustain what he sets out to do. It is not a matter of stillness or immobility, but concentrated mind. It is a vital process. It needs to flow from a center.
So far only Fascination has really worked for me, where he weaved a story about nonsense that we could safely discard around a sense of place we couldn't. The result was a captivating aura, itself a simple thing but hard to accomplish. This is equally dreamy but scattershot.
Just the same, Rollin means what he does. Look at the ending here and tell me the man is just not truly, hopelessly romantic in his morbid way. He means well, you should watch him in spite of everything that works against him.
This choice slice of 70's sexploitation declare its style early on when one
of the female leads comes down the stairs stark naked saying "Now where did
I leave my skirt?" Nudity in abundance is the message and it sets out to
deliver, ensuring that skin is amply displayed as the loopy gothic plot
It's locked firmly into the style of the genre. The acting is dismal, the special effects consist mainly of blood capsules, and the plot is a contrivance to hang the nudity on.
It's of passing interest that the cast includes some pioneers of French X-rated movies in supporting roles.
For those looking for real eroticism and graphic violence...this film is
for you. However, it does work to some degree as a gothic horror film.
Although artsy/fartsy in spots, this film does have a strange appeal(and
enough plot twists) that will keep you watching until the end.
I'm not a fan of Rollins and thought that Requiem for a Vampire was just a bloody mess but based on the synopsis and the fact that I collect vamp movies I decided to give this one a go. Its amateurish, strays a bit from vampire mythology and boy were those French girls hairy in the 70s but I actually liked the basic plot. You'll recognise plot devices that have made their way into more recent films, not least the returning ghost from 'The Ring'. Re-written and remade with the benefit of modern film craft (and less hairy girls) this could be an excellent modern vampire film. Keep an eye out for the vampire twins, definitely cute but deadly.
Lips of Blood (1974)
*** (out of 4)
A different take on the vampire legacy has a young man (Jean-Loup Philippe) seeing a photo of a castle, which gives him a flashback to when he was a child. He remembers as a child going to a strange castle where he spoke with a young woman who protected him against something. In the current times, he tries to figure out exactly where this castle is and who the woman is but his mother seemed determined to keep him away. Director Jean Rollin made a wide range of vampire films in his career and it's probably safe to say that this one here was his strangest. I think the film works best if you go into it expecting some sort of twisted and surreal fairy tale involving the living dead. As usual, the director takes his sweet time telling the story, although thankfully the pacing here is much better than in a lot of his films. The pacing actually works well with the film and it especially helps set up our lead character and makes this journey worth taking. The pacing of the film allows one to really get into the mystery of the events going on but it also allows Rollin time to build up some atmosphere. This atmosphere, like many of the director's best work, is the strong point and you can't help but feel the cool breeze of the night and the dampness of the tombs once the vampires do start to come. Philippe does a very good job in the lead role as you have no problem believing him in the part. Annie Belle is very seductive as the woman who befriended our lead character. As you'd expect from a Rollin film, the nudity is quite high as our lovely vampires don't mind walking around naked. We even get some pretty silly and gratuitous scenes like one where our lead goes to a photographers place and then gets treated to a couple nude women. There are still several problems in this film including so many logic issues that you could drive a semi through. You have to question the "story" told by the mother towards the end of the film and once everything is said and done you can't help but think there must have been much easier ways to do things. Still, fans of the genre should enjoy this film even with its flaws.
"Lips of Blood" is actually one of my favourite films made by Jean Rollin.The film was shot in just three weeks and basically it's a love story filled with lesbian vampires and a lot of female nudity.The film is relatively slow-paced,but offers plenty of wonderful Gothic atmosphere and a tiny bit of gore.The four lesbian vampires are incredibly hot.The story may be boring for some,but I still think that this film is better than most of the crap being put out today.Unfortunately "Lips of Blood" failed to generate much interest at the box office,so Rollin moved toward hard core pornography.Anyway,if you like Jean Rollin's erotic vampire movies give this one a look.Recommended!
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