Frederick sees a photograph of a ruined seaside castle, which triggers a strange childhood memory. He then goes on a strange quest, aided by four female vampires, to find the castle and the beautiful woman who lives there.
A young man falls in love with a beautiful woman being chased by sinister masked figures at night. He tries to track her down, and learns she's being held captive by his father and colleagues who believe she's a vampire.
A runaway criminal breaks into an eerie chateau, taking it's two frightened chambermaids hostage. As night falls, a group of mysterious aristocratic women arrive, and he begins to realize the girls are hiding a sinister secret.
A gang of pirates rape the two sole survivors of a ship wreck. The violated girls are rescued by the strange inhabitants of a supposedly haunted island, where they are granted supernatural powers to strike revenge against the pirates.
The beginning of the film - deserted town and railway station sequences are a delight. When the characters eventually enter the cemetery, 'The Iron Rose' gets somehwat tedious, with the heroes merely wondering amid the tombstones, uttering nonsensical lines from time to time. There's little for them to do there. The film was clearly made purely out of Rollin's love for cemetery ambiance,its decay and desolation: multiple shots of crosses and tombstones, strange characters who don't understand each other. Conversations they have lead nowhere and end abruptly. Rollin populates the cemetery with his favourite heroes: a vampire is seen entering the crypt, and a creepy clown bringing some flowers to one of the graves. The acting is rather questionable, also because the script doesn't provide the leads who actually seem to be quite capable actors, with any material to work with. Therefore their behaviour in the film seems really weird as they switch from nearly catatonic state to mad fury for no reason and then become mild and gentle again within seconds. Rollin never ever tells conventional stories with his films, instead he just films what he wants to see, and then puts it together in editing, as a result his subconscious is on display. There's no such thing as pace in his films, he doesn't try an give his films rhythm and structure via editing, he only uses it to put the scenes together (hence the frequent jarring cuts in most of his works). The director's aim is to put you in a particular mood, not to deliver some concrete message. Atmosphere is his ultimate aim, for Rollin admits his films are moving paintings. I was disappointed when I first watched the film, but I rewatch it often. Although lacking any dramatic tension, 'The Iron Rose' is a very beautiful and atmospheric film.
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