Here I am again with another Jean Rollin film. For those not in the know, Rollin was a French filmmaker who made numerous films involving vampires. His films, almost always full of nudity and sex, are noted for their slow-paces and dreamlike atmospheres.
Today I'll be looking at his 1974 movie, Requiem for a Vampire...
Requiem for a Vampire opens with two women dressed as clowns, and their male friend, who are in a car chase, driving away from people. The friend is shot and killed, but the two women manage to escape. After torching their car, the duo come across a graveyard, and a nearby castle, and soon it becomes apparent that the local gravediggers had the right idea to not stick around during the night...
Your first thoughts as you watch this movie are likely to be "Who are these people, why are they running, and who's chasing them?" and "I get it! The friggin' car is burning! Cut away!".
Requiem for a Vampire is never boring, because things are actually happening, but the lack of dialogue, and drawn-out scenes to not help. The only scenes I would call boring would be the long sex torture scene, and the initiation ceremony at the end.
There's next to no dialogue for the first fifty minutes of the movie, which some say gives the movie a surreal quality, but to me, it just makes the movie a bit of a drag.
I've heard from many reviews that this is a disturbing film with a second half full of brutal rape and torture, and...it ain't that bad. The movie's pretty tame, and I was never disturbed (although that might just be me, because I'm me).
A few things in Requiem thematically tie in with others of Rollin's works. As for the writing, for what there is, it's okay-ish, though the reveal from the head vampire near the end comes pretty out of left field. With the story, it's barely there. This movie has the same issue that I've had with many other Jean Rollin films I've seen, and it all comes down to this-It seems that Rollin was a much better director than he ever was a writer.
One positive is the scenery. It's absolutely gorgeous! And the film is very well directed, too.
Given its lush, historic countrysde and landscape, France, as well as other European countries, are perfect for historical, or gothic horror films, like how Australia and America are perfect for locations when you're shooting a post-apocalypse movie. When in France, you just need to drive down a country road, and BAM! Old castle!
The film has an ooky atmosphere and location, but unfortunately the script doesn't complement it.
And another positive is the two main actresses, Marie-Pierre Castel and Mireille D'Argent are both gorgeous, and look just as awesome clothed as they do unclothed, which they are often, as this is a Jean Rollin film. This is akin to Leather and Whips, aka Amuck, the boring semi-giallo starring the uber sexay duo of Barbara Bouchet (Moneypenny!) and Rosalba Neri.
The acting in Requiem is fine. Nothing amazing (although Mireille D'Argent is pretty good during the whipping scene), but it's definitely passable, and never cringeworthy.
The vampire lord is an interesting but underused character, played well by whoever IMDb refuses to credit a character name to.
There's one pretty noticeable goof early on when an actor playing a corpse is obviously moving when the 'gasoline' is being poured on him.
And there are a couple of stupid character moments, like when Mireille falls into an open grave when running from gravediggers, neither of whom see her. Then they start filling in the grave, and they don't notice the woman in it! What, are they blind?! It's obvious that from where they're standing, they'd easily be able to see her.
And there's when the two leads first notice something wrong with the castle. They see a rotting corpse hanging from a noose, and when they run outside, there's a bloodied-up arm poking out of a hole in the wall, and what do they do? They go back into the castle, into a chapel with skeletal monks with bloody skullcap wounds! Dumbasses!
Also-While on one hand, I could complain the the subtitler got the meaning of 'chateau' wrong, who could blame them. Chateau means castle in French, but in English, chateau means chateau, kinda like a villa, and sometimes, I think the English word of chateau can be used to mean a castle. Confused yet?
The film has one dialogue exchange between the two leads and one of the vampire chicks that I liked. "Castel: We got lost."-Vampire Chick: "Eternally lost!"
There is one stupid line in the movie, however. Vampire Chick: "Meanwhile, we'll have these two"-Vampire Lord: "No, they will be ours", Um, isn't that what she just said, Vampire Lord?
The musical score here is decent. Nothing awesome, like Fiancee of Dracula, but serviceable.
There's practically zero blood in this movie. As for the look of the vampires...
OhmigodHAHAHAHAHAHHAHATHOSETEETH! What are those, paper scraps glued to the actor's lips?!
One little issue was with the DVD of the film (or at least, this particular DVD print). It has a weird slight rainbow interference when characters move some of the some. It looks much more pronounced when paused, but it's still an annoyance.
By the way, the UK was weird with horror films! They used to be so absurdly militant about horror films, censorship, and 'video nasties', yet back then they retitled a film with the normal, 'tasteful' title of Requiem for a Vampire to a more exploitative one-Caged Virgins, and Haute Tension, a Hitchockian title gets switched out with Switchblade Romance. What the hell, censor fuckfaces?!
So, in closing, if you want to watch a vampire film where something actually happens, then Requiem for a Vampire is definitely not the movie for you...
The review has been for Holly Horrorland's Third Annual Vampire Soiree.