Sunday, January 1, 2012
This is one of Jean Rollin's more famous Eurohorror films that he made in the 70s. Of course you could almost make it an "Vamp Or Not?" as my friend Taliesin over at his wondrous blog would do, as in the film there is only blood-drinking re some kind of fetish, and does not have vampires per se, inasmuch as supernatural powers.
The "vampires" of the film do profess to anaemia though, so in digesting blood, much like a vampire you could say that doing so was to preserve their own life.
The film begins with our protagonist Mark (Jean-Pierre Lemaire), robbing from his own band of robbers and taking off with the spoils to London. He at first takes a female member as hostage, who attempts to use her sex to seduce him in a bid to be set free, but it seems he is above all that, or at least doesn't find said girl attractive (though she is).
His escape route takes him to a lovely Chateau in the French countryside where two French maidens named Elizabeth (Franka Mai) and Eva (Brigitte Lahaie) are sitting the house, preparing it somewhat for a gathering latter than night, and unbeknownst to our fugitive robber, are tasked to provide a man for that night's "festivities".
Both girls lust after Mark, but he choose Eva for his desires which causes immense jealousy in Elizabeth and she almost commits suicide over the denial, for she also is in love with Eva having previously made love to her in an earlier scene.
Shortly after the rest of the band of robbers gather enough courage to attack the chateau to reclaim their stolen loot. Eva comes out without fear with the gold and tells them to take it and leave, but they want revenge on Mark also. Eva is taken to the stables where she is raped, but allows this so she can kill her attacker with a hidden dagger in her cloak she is laying on, and then robing up in only the cloak takes a scythe in hand, and in a scene of lovely imagery kills the rest of the gang in a seductive Grim Reaper fashion.
Shortly after, the head vampire or Marchioness named Helene arrives and is pleased that there is a male victim for the midnight Black Mass. She too seems smitten with Mark's beauty, though he is quite aware that he was being entertained as to not leave the chateau for some nefarious purpose.
After some lustful games it's revealed that Mark is to be a vampiric sacrifice to Satan via a blood-drinking ritual. But all that is cast to the wind when Elizabeth snaps from having been jilted by Mark and shots Eva to death, taking Mark hostage in turn while the rest of the coven feast on Eva.
Mark knows he is in trouble now, that Elizabeth is quite mad and still has his gun. She confesses the groups purpose to him, and he attempts to abuse her feelings for him to escape. She realises in a moment of clarity that she never loved him and shoots him dead. Elizabeth meets Helen on the bridge outside the chateau, and they both walk off together into the sunset.
What I would have done:
Eva and Elizabeth's manipulation of Mark was sublime. The silly human thought he has them under control, but nothing is a match for the cravings of a Vampyre. In regards to Eva's demise that is too bad. She was a beauty that's for sure, but falling for a human never ends well, especially when it is done against the wishes or at the detriment of the coven. So she paid the price. I think this is one of the few films where I wouldn't change much of what happened. The vampires were cruel and sharp and acted according. As Helen started to Mark in the film: "Beware, sometimes Death takes the form of seduction". Wise words indeed...