Judge Daryl Loomis walks around like he's King Blood of Suck Mountain.
Our review of Requiem for a Vampire (Blu-ray), published June 12th, 2012, is also available.
Two young girls…trapped…with no escape! Forced to submit to the horrors of the pit!
In the land of the lesbian vampire film auteur, Jean Rollin (Fascination) is king. His wonderfully bizarre visual style, his brilliant locations, and his focus on the key elements that drive his films—sex and bloodsucking—seat him well above all the others who have tried. Lesbian vampirism belongs to Rollin; it is his genre and his alone. He has tried many things, but is always at his best when working with these rules. Many have tried their hand at the genre, but he's the undisputed champ.
Facts of the Case
Two young women in clown makeup flee with their driver from unknown attackers but, when the driver is shot dead, they have to burn the car and escape. The women turn down a tiny country road and wander through the woods. In the middle of nowhere, they come upon a chateau that looks like a great place for a nap. It's inhabited by vampires enticed by their virginity, however, who begin the process of turning the girls into one of them. While they're changing over, they are conscripted to find warm bodies for the coven to feed on before time runs out and the master bloodsucker loses his power, killing them all.
Requiem for a Vampire, nearly dialogue-free, is Rollin's best film because it takes the storytelling out of the hands of a second-rate screenplay and places is directly on screen, where it plays perfectly to the director's strengths.
It's never very clear whether these girls are criminals, though they appear to be at the start. They give a dubious explanation about entertaining at a nearby party where there was a fight, but that doesn't really explain why two clowns are packing heat at their gig in the first place. Logic and sensible storytelling have never been terribly important in Jean Rollin's universe, but these inconsistencies are part of the fun. The girls walk through beautifully filmed forests and valleys on there way to the chateau. Rollin's location footage always looks better than when he's on set, and Requiem for a Vampire stays out of doors nearly the whole time. The landscape is exquisite and the chateau ruins, though the steel handrails on the stairways take you out of the experience a little, are as spooky and mysterious as any he's ever filmed.
Watching the girls run around the cavernous stone walls takes up much of the first half of the film. The land is pristine and Rollin knows how to show it off best. Filmed from wide angles, it's easy to see the size of the place relative to the people running through it, who take up only a tiny portion of the screen. The score that accompanies the actresses through the ruins puts it all together, and Rollin creates an eerie, hypnotic atmosphere that permeates the whole film. When they finally do run into the nest of vampires, things quickly start to get weird. Between the bat-missiles under a vampire's cape and the nasty bat love during the orgy scene, there's more than enough perversion to go around. While the story doesn't make sense for a second, the way the film flows at its sleepwalking pace is hypnotizing. From the opening clown sequence to the final words of the lead vampire's ridiculous speech, you are under its spell and it's hard to tell that any time has passed at all.
Requiem for a Vampire leans much more toward the erotic side of the genre than the violent side. While the film has its share of bloodshed, these vampires are more inclined toward seduction. When they do kill, they mostly cover the victim with their capes. These are modest vampires, I guess.
Salvation has been reissuing their catalogue in new cases for a while, and this new edition is no different than the rest. They are out of the old snapper cases, but are otherwise no different than the original release. The image transfer is anamorphic, but the picture looks bad all around. Some of the brighter outdoor scenes look fine, but the print shows a lot of damage and grain most of the time and is at its worst in the candlelit indoor scenes. The orgy scene, filmed under a deep red filter, bleeds all over the place, making it very hard to see what is going on, no matter how gross that action is. The mono sound is not any better, but the relative silence of the film makes it less noticeable. The dialog, what there is of it, is mostly clear, but there is a little bit of background noise the whole time. The only extras are a pair of trailers and three alternate scenes. These are the sex scenes from the film that have been recut or reshot without nudity to comply with various nations' censor boards. These are interesting to see once, but there isn't anything in them that you don't see in the film.
Requiem for a Vampire is Rollin's best because he keeps it simple, playing to his visual strengths without ever getting bogged down in poorly rendered story-telling. Its virtual lack of dialogue makes the process slow-going at times, but it is his most rewarding film. Salvation should do a lot more to restore these exploitation gems, however small the audience might be.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Salvation Films
• Alternate Scenes
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