Saturday, 26 November 2016

The Nude Vampire (4 Stars)

"The Nude Vampire" is Jean Rollin's second vampire film, made in 1970. From the beginning of his career it was obvious that his vampire stories were different. Rather can copy the expressionist film style of America's vampire films or the gothic horror films of Hammer Studios, he made films that were bright and colourful. Jean Rollin's films were at the same time erotic and psychedelic. But the differences didn't end there. He wrote the screenplay for his films himself, and they involved very unusual plots, as we already saw in his first film, "Rape of the Vampire", in 1968.

The film begins with a young man, Pierre Radamonte, trying to find out the secrets his father, a successful medical doctor, is keeping from him. His father holds parties for well dressed guests in a mansion that Pierre isn't allowed to enter. One day he steals an invitation and sneaks into the party. Photos of the dinner guests are put into a jar. One photo is pulled out at random, and the woman in the picture is given a gun. She shoots herself without hesitation. A scantily dressed woman (not quite nude, as you can see in the photo above) comes into the room and drinks her blood from the wound.

The next day Pierre's father explains. He's discovered a woman who has the traits of a vampire. He doesn't believe in vampires in the mythical sense, he's a man of science, so he says that she has an illness that makes her feed on blood and live forever. He says that he's attempting to find a cure for her, but Pierre doesn't believe him. He thinks that his father wants to become like her and live forever. As for the dinner parties, Pierre's father has founded a suicide cult to attract superstitious people. He tells them the woman is a Goddess and they should take turns killing themselves to serve her. That might seem ridiculous, but it's no less stupid than the suicide bombers who kill themselves in the hope of being rewarded by a fake God called Allah. At least the members of the suicide cult only harm themselves and not others.

The woman is mute, so she can't tell anyone where she comes from, but Pierre's father suspects that there are others like her. He's right. A large group of people comes to the mansion to free her. Their leader denies that they are vampires, but I can't tell you what they are without giving the story away. Watch the film for yourself.

"The Nude Vampire" is also notable for being the first appearance of the twin sisters Catherine and Marie-Pierre Castel. They appeared in about a dozen films together in the 1970's.

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