Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Requiem for a Vampire (1971)



Were it not for all the skeevy sexual violence, I might be tempted to give this a qualified recommendation, if only for the fact that writer/director Jean Rollin seems to have finally realised that dialogue is the weakest part of his films and has responded by deleting as much of it as possible.  This script features only about one third as many lines as The Shiver of the Vampires did, and instead relies on visual story telling to a much greater extent.  Since the visuals have always been one of the stronger parts of Rollin's films (subject to the limitations of budget, at least), this is a smart play.

Rollin emphasises the sparseness of the dialogue by making the opening 12 minutes especially terse.  This period features exactly five lines, averaging 2-3 words apiece.

The plot is simple enough: two young women, apparently on the run from the law, and for some reason dressed as clowns, stumble across an apparently abandoned ch√Ęteau and decide to hide out there overnight.  After dark, however, they discover that the place is the lair of a bunch of Renfields, all of whom serve the last "living" vampire.

The vampire's supernatural powers make it impossible for the women to escape, and he informs them that they must become part of his "family" and help acquire food for the group by luring men to the ch√Ęteau to be eaten.  Implicit in this decision is the threat that if they don't comply, they will either become food themselves, or end up in the Renfields' rape dungeon.  Because ugh, there is a rape dungeon.

With more money for sets and costumes (the sparseness of both is very evident as you're watching), and a lot less sexual assault, there's the potential for a decently creepy little thriller here, but alas what we get is cheap and nasty instead.

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