Day 3 of 31 days of horror.
Or as I call it an excuse to trawl thru' reviews from way back in 2007 then rewrite them with added mooth shite-in captions.
Surprisingly I'm not bored yet.
But I do have a funny feeling in my tummy now.
Daughters Of Darkness (AKA Blood on the Lips, The Promise of Red Lips 1971)
Dir: Harry Kümel.
Cast: Daniele Ouimet, John Karlen, Delphine Seyrig and the enigmatic Andrea Rau.
|It is since long that I have crossed the river Ocean!|
Long faced professional dormouse Valerie (Ouimet best known for loads of stuff in French that I can't be arsed listing) and her frighteningly hamster-faced hubby, the grumpy (but tres manly) council estate Tom Skerrit Stefan (Cagney and Lacey's Harvey himself, Karlen), after honeymooning in 'The Europe' are upset to find themselves stuck in a dilapidated, off season hotel on their way home to dear old Blighty.
It seems that bad weather has caused the cancellation of the only car ferry home and that there won't be another for at least a week.
Or until Valerie is seduced by a lady vampire.
Whichever comes first.
Yourself not included obviously.
Vowing to make the best of the situation the cutesy couple unpack their bags (or in Stefan's case empty his sacs) before settling down to what appeared to be the main pastime of 1970's newlyweds - spousal abuse and drinking.
The angry cum-face montage is cut short when the pair are invited to dine with the only other guests at the hotel, the enigmatic Countess 'Thin' Lizzy Bathory (Seyrig from so much quality arthouse fayre it'd be a sin to sully her career by listing it here) and her drop dead sexy servant, the librarian-like Ilona (art school crush and quite possibly the sexiest actress to ever appear in an artsy Euro-vamp movie Rau).
|"Is it in yet?"|
For what seems like hours.
Tho' trust me, I'm not complaining.
I don't know about you but at this point I'd make my farewells and leave, but Stefan wants to stay.
Who am I kidding?
As a teen the thought of sitting in a draughty hotel dining room whilst Andrea Rau licked her lips at me was number one on my list of things to do before I die.
It still is if I'm honest.*
Even this early into their marriage - and the movie - we can see that it's on rocky ground, partly due to Stefan's habit of beating Valerie with a belt if she disagrees with him and partly due to the fact that he's a closet bisexual, ringing his secret male lover whom he calls 'mother' and just to hammer the point home we're treated to numerous shots of Valerie nodding at her hubbie blankly intercut with the occasional scene of her slowly unzipping his bri-nylon action slacks whilst staring into space with her head tilted to one side.
Just how your mum used to.
The cold, barren emptiness of the surrounding area tho' (and the fact that the funfair is shut and the candyfloss seller has died) means the couple have no choice but to hang about with Countess and her 'companion' - well, it's either that or sit playing cards with the toothless concierge all night - but it's not all cake, crisps and strong European coffees because between lunches Stefan fills his time by either shouting loudly at Valerie whilst slapping her arse with a belt or looking lustfully at the countess.
Being a clueless bloke in a 70s erotically charged vampire movie tho' he's doesn't actually realize that she's far more interested in Valerie.
"Patience," purrs our Take That quoting Countess as she strokes Ilona's thigh. "Patience."
Just when you think the movie has forgotten it's actually a vampire film - and it's slow build up to vamp on housewife action is just there to tease you into watching - a bicycle riding wannabe Van Helsing turns up at the hotel looking for vampires and almost immediately deduces that the Countess is one of the bloodsucking undead.
To be fair it's not like he actually figured it out himself, she was in fact standing in front of a huge mirror whilst chatting to him casting no reflection at the time, he'd just turned up to ask directions.
Lizzy, understandably annoyed by this badly dressed interloper turning up to spoil her sapphic shenanigans has a plan tho', she waits till he's out cycling the next morning and runs him off the road with her car.
Leaving us wondering why Christopher Lee never thought of doing this to Peter Cushing.
In the course of one of the pairs frequent Hammer team-ups obviously, not in real life that would be terrible.
|No amusing caption just the confession that I could stare at this picture for hours.|
So that's the mindless violence quota upped but what about the sex?
Leave it to Stefan to sort that one out.
It seems that whilst Valerie and Lizzy have been spending time enjoying more and more frequent walks around the crazy golf course our bullish beau' has become 'involved' with Ilona.
By involved I mean indulging in lots and lots of sex with her.
Which on first viewing this as an impressionable 13 year old left me devastated as I'd already decided that she was saving herself for me.
I know I was.
|"Is it a book or a film?"|
Being too enamored by her frankly stunning breasts, full sensual lips and cutesy pageboy mop top Stefan has failed to see the obvious.
And no it's not that she was secretly thinking of me during their love trysts but that Ilona is a vampire.
But with hindsight let's give him his due, it's not something you think about with a new girlfriend is it?
Well maybe he should of (I know it's always been at the forfront of my mind when chatting to new people) because then he would probably have realized that trying to drag her into a shower for a bout of bubbly soap sex was a bad idea.
Especially when the poor lamb starts screaming and struggling in absolute terror.
Fortunately she manages to break free from Stefan's manly grasp which wouldn't be so bad if she didn't then trip over a loofah and fall on an open razor.
Now how is he going to explain that to my nan?
And who will Lizzy pick as her new companion?
Clue: not Stefan.
For those of us who spent their teenage years in the 80's writer/director/professional Belgian Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness is a perfect example of the type of film you'd sneakily watched on Channel Four on a Friday night whilst your parents were either out or drunk, crouched infront of the TV with the sound turned down to a whisper you'd sit entranced at the thought of what was to come.
Breasts! girl on girl vamp action! old men playing bridge! violence!
To a terribly twitchy and awkward teen with a Louise Brooks fixation this was cinematic perfection.
Looking back on it now thru' (slightly) older eyes you realize that there's so much more to it than that.
|For those of you who've ever wondered what the perfect teen masturbatory fantasy looks like well here you go. You're welcome.|
Balancing such diverse themes as blood sucking badgirls and spousal abuse with an arthouse aestheticism not seen again until Neil Jordan's 2012 classic Byzantium, Daughters of Darkness never betrays its low budget roots, its sweeping vistas and stark lonely locations counteract with the flowing deep reds of Seyrig's gowns - the film somehow manages to be both cold and forbidding yet dangerously seductive in equal measures, partly due to the almost English sensibilities playing against the exotic 'euro-ness' of it all.
The acting from the four leads is frankly magnificent, from John Karlen's sadistic bastard of a hubbie, Danielle Ouimet's young wife on the verge of a breakdown and the amazing ice queen that is Delphine Seyrig as Bathory, a performance that mixes icy European charm, breeding and wit with an underlying air of almost animalistic menace but the standout performance is from the painfully perfect Andrea Rau, her character dominates every scene she's in as the tragic Ilona, longing for purpose and an existence of her own as she realizes that her mistress seeks another companion.
|Perfection embodied. That is all.|
Stylishly sexy and hip without trying, Daughters of Darkness pre-dates the cultural 'Vampire revolution' started by movies like The Hunger and Teevee fare like Ultraviolet by almost 20 years, and the lack of accepted 'vampire lore' (fangs, shape changing and the like) just adds to the movies unique feel.
It's almost as if the (very real) couple have stumbled into a nightmarish Grimm fairytale for adults; where the gingerbread is twice as nice and the evil stepmother (or at the very least her companion) is far more alluring than the virginal Snow White.
*If you (or any of your family are reading this Andrea, you know how to get in touch.