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
The follow-up to Kümel's "Malpertuis" (from Jean Ray's book),"Les Lèvres Rouges " has got a much simpler screenplay and ,with one exception no great stars (no Orson Welles,Michel Bouquet,Susan Hampshire ,Jean-Pierre Cassel.....)....
One star ,but what a star!Delphine Seyrig was one of the greatest stars France had ever had.She mesmerized her audience as no actress of her generation could;her death was a major loss for the European cinema.She could play the fairy godmother of "Peau D'Ane ",the dumb bourgeois lady of "Le Charme Discret De La Bourgeoisie" or the legendary bloody countess -many historians do not believe in those blood baths -with the same aplomb;three parts so different and the same woman with the same suave voice -you MUST hear her speak,a dubbed version would be a disaster;so make sure you get a DVD with subtitles.
I have always thought Belgian directors were very good at creating a supernatural atmosphere without using a ton of special effects;like Delvaux in "Un Soir Un Train" ,Kümel makes the simple picture of a train which comes to a standstill.The baroque hotel will remind some users of "L'Année Dernière A Marienbad" ,Seyrig's debut in France.
It's to state the obvious to write that Seyrig steals every scene she is in and fortunately she's featured in many scenes ;the three other leads seem bland by comparison and it takes all the talent of the director to pull them off.
"Les Levres Rouges" gave a renewed life to the vampire movie ,like Polanski's "the fearless vampire killers" did in the precedent decade .A strong lesbian interest in this movie too:Seyrig was so hot she could appeal to both men and women.
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