Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grave Reviews #10

Requiem For A Vampire (1971)

Director: Jean Rollin

Starring: Marie-Pierre Castel, Mireille Dargent, Philippe Gasté, Louise Dhour, Dominique Toussaint.

This is my favourite Rollin film though not the first I'd seen. Lips of Blood takes that honour and coming in third is Fascination tied with Living Dead Girl.

There is something about being a Rollin fan that you just can't explain to someone that isn't. Rollin isn't that accessible because his movies are quite surreal and don't really make that much sense for the most part. But as a fan you are drawn to the Gothic EuroHorror visuals of vampires, coffins, crypts, bats and haunted chateaus along with a slew of lovely French ladies who get in way over their heads when dealing with the supernatural, as the two protagonists of this film. Of course you need to watch these films in their original French Language with subtitles to get the full atmosphere of these lovely Eurohorrors. Dubbing is the root of all evil.

Marie and Michelle have just escaped their school party (apparently, perhaps it was juvenile hall), evading the guards for a friend waiting outside with a car. They are chased for quite a while through the French Countryside exchanging gunfire (dressed as clowns no less) until their driver is mortally wounded and tells them to head for the water tower with his dying breath.

The two girls torch the car and the body, and head for the water tower to retrieve a motorcycle to continue on their way. Passing through a cemetery through a lovely montage of bats and graves (and almost 10 minutes of no dialogue) Michelle is almost buried alive, and they find their way to an abandoned chateau where they hope to spend the night. and hide from their pursuers.
Alas the chateau is not abandoned but home to a Coven of Vampires and their evil servants who serve a Vampire Master, who is dying and needs fresh blood (read: virgins) to continue his bloodline and own immortality who is assisted by two half-vampires. The two girls are tormented throughout the night until they are finally cornered, controlled by bat-like parasites summoned by the Master and given the cursed bite. Now half vampires, the girls are compelled to do the Master's and the Coven's bidding.

 After a slew of gratuitous sex-scenes between the evil cultists and prisoners in the dungeon, the girls try to escape the chateau, but they are under the Master's power now and find themselves back at the chateau's gates everytime.

The girls are told they are be initiated into the Coven of Vampirism to replenishitsr numbers as the Master is dying because he no longer gains sustenance from the dark malediction of human blood. Erica has developed her teeth and Louise is not far behind, still half-vampires but on their way to replacing their Master as head of the coven. The two girls are tasked with going out in the daylight and seducing men back to the chateau so the vampires can feed off them. A person cannot be a non-virgin and a vampire, and from what is explained you need to be a virgin to have vampirism passed onto you. (This lore was also used recently in Helsing).

The girls use their sexuality to seduce men, but Marie goes all the way with a young man named Frederic, sacrificing her virginity because she doesn't want to become one of the Damned, while Michelle does her duty and keeps her innocence. This event is where the girls seperate in loyalty to the coven as Michelle falls into the darkness of the vampire, and captures and tortures her friend for betraying her (also Marie's mate is more attractive than the dirty old man Michelle seduces). Erica kills Michelle's mate and invites her to share his blood with her.

Marie lies lies and says she saw no-one to seduce, and the girls are told by Louise that tonight they will be fully initiated into the coven. The Master figures out Marie is no longer a virgin and is mighty pissed, sending his half-vampires to catch her and discover her mate that is hiding somewhere in the Chateau. The Master traps Marie's lover in the mausoleum, but has a change of heart. He confides in Marie a secret that he is too ancient to have passed on his full vampirism to his disciples, and that Erica and Louise will never be like him. He will pass soon and is happy as he didn't ask for this curse and decides to let Marie go.

Michelle isn't as impressed or forgiving, and at gunpoint demands to know where the lover is so she can kill him, as he is a threat to the vampires. If Marie doesn't talk the half-vampires will kill them both. Michelle's heart breaks as she chains Marie up and tortures her but Marie won't relent. Erica steps in to turn up the heat and Louise lets both of them escape so they will lead them to Frederic. The girls are chased to the mausoleum of the vampire and prove to be crack shots with a pistol, only running out of bullets when Erica and Louise show up (guns don't work on them anyhow).

The Master appears and tells them enough is enough, it's all over. Erica is to spend the rest of eternity with her Master in the tomb, and Louise is to guard it to make sure it is never opened. The girls waste no time in fleeing the cemetery as Louise stands guard heartbroken at the crypt's gates.


This is the film I would recommend to someone wanting to experience Rollin for the first time. There isn't much dialogue, and what there is of it is Rollin's usual musing of poetic pathos in regards to the vampire race. Vampire Lore here is a mix of standard and unusual. The half-vampires can walk about by day, are immune to injury from common weapons though don't possess any other supernatural powers such as shapeshifting, enchanced strength or flight.

The half-vampires could be the ones who summon the bats to mind control the two girls during the day as their Master is asleep in his crypt, though we do see him use this power when the girls first meet him. We see nothing in regards to weaknesses, no holy objects, mirrors or garlic. Humans must be virgins to become vampires, and start out half-vampire and become fully fledged in some unknown capacity.

Rollin has an wonderful eye for gothic scenery and pretty women, and there is plenty of both here to assuage any vampire fans hunger. Once you've seen this make sure to see his other films I mentioned above. Then once your done, or even inbetween, make sure to watch the films of his Spanish compatriot in Eurohorror Jess Franco, director of the fantastic Vampyros Lesbos and Virgin Amongst the Living Dead.

My Grade is B.


  1. I love Rollin and this is up there with his best.

    I would, perhaps, suggest Lips of Blood or Living Dead Girl to a new Rollin fan, ahead of this, just because they were slightly more commercial but, within those three you have my fav. Rollins flicks.

    This is a surreality to his films that simply has to be experienced. Great stuff...

    btw, on a completely different topic, how short was Vampire Origins on the iPhone! Okay, it looked great and had some nice game play but short.... so short.

  2. Hey Andy, thanks for the comment.

    I know Rollin has made some modern Eurohorror like Two Orphan Vampires and The Fiancee of Dracula which are fine but they don't match his 70s work which was fantastic.

    Is there anyone now making films similar to these nowadays. I don't mean Bava, Franco etc

    Well I haven't finished iVamp yet, I am just at the part still where you get the sword from the two coffins and head to the basement. How much longer does the game go after that?

    I know it's meant to be the first in a trilogy though...

  3. re: VO. It doesn't go that far, bit of a trek through the dungeon, find a female vampire and sword fight her.

    The game was good but for the price, compared to other apps, short.

    re: Rollins, I do quite like his modern stuff, though not as good as his 70s material, as for anyone making films like he did... I would have to say no.

  4. Ok thanks Andy.

    Though I'm quite sure there is more Eurohorror out there that I've yet to discover. I only recently watched The Dracula Saga and that's an old film. I want the lead vampire's smoking/dinner jacket for myself :)