Thursday, 8 December 2016

Requiem for a Vampire (4 Stars)

"Requiem for a Vampire" is Jean Rollin's fourth vampire film, made in 1971. Towards the end of his life he said that this was his best film. I disagree with this, I believe he made better films, but it's still a fascinating film.

The story opens with a car chase. In the first car there's a man with two teenage girls dressed as clowns. In the second car it's just a man. After a shoot out the man in the first car is killed, but one of the clowns grabs the steering wheel and manages to escape. After wandering around they find a castle inhabited by vampires, or at least half-vampires. Their leader is a vampire called the Master. He says that he's the last true vampire left on Earth. He's very old and no longer has the strength to make others like himself. His followers drink blood like normal vampires, but they're not immortal and they can't turn others into vampires.

The Master immediately detects with his vampiric senses that the girls are both virgins. It's not clear exactly how old they are, maybe 16, maybe 18, but there's a good reason for their virginity: they're lesbians. In this rewriting of vampire mythology, only virgins can become vampires. The girls are asked to bring men back to the castle as food for the vampires. It's easy. All they have to do is run through the fields naked and men follow them, like moths to a flame. Would I follow them? Of course I would!

As much as I enjoy the film, it has a few faults that prevent me giving it a full five stars. I find the torture and rape scenes unpleasant, because the victims are always women. I said that only virgins could become vampires, but evidently it's not necessary to remain a virgin afterwards, because the male vampires in the castle rape their female captives before killing them. Then there are totally unnecessary scenes where naked women are whipped. I hate violence against women.

Nevertheless, the film has the naive beauty that's typical for all of Jean Rollin's films. If you're a fan of his, or a fan of vampire films in general, this is a film you have to see.

One small piece of trivia. The young undertaker, Frédéric, is played by Philippe Gasté, who also appears as the flying instructor in the German film "Liebesgrüße aus der Lederhose 5".

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