Daughter of Dracula (1972)

Daughter of Dracula (1972) movie poster

director Jesús Franco
viewed: 05/02/2018

Daughter of Dracula is a little confusebslls but what good Jesús Franco flick isn’t? It does, however, feature a more substantial acting role for Jess than in a lot of other films of his.

What is it about Jesús Franco that makes him compelling? Not simply that he cranked out movies prodigiously more than competently. Per IMDb, Daughter of Dracula is one of nine films he directed in 1972 alone. He displays sometimes amateurish skills, heightened by passion and aesthetics, often incoherent but sometimes cohesive yet still inconsistent. 

A lot of people seem to see Daughter of Dracula as more giallo than horror. True, it’s got a detective working a series of killings. It’s also got a girl turned vampire upon her mother’s deathbed confession relating a family history and then, yes, Dracula (Franco stalwart Howard Vernon). And lesbian sex scenes.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Franco. I just can’t articulate why exactly.

Kingdom of the Vampire (1991)

Kingdom of the Vampire (1991)

director J.R. Bookwalter
viewed: 03/23/2018

Jeff, who lives at home, is a repressed vampire who’s into The Evil Dead and Creepshow  but has so many issues with his identity. It doesn’t help that he has an overbearing mom, a vampire queen, now middle-aged battleaxe given to constantly berating her disappointment of a son.

Kingdom of the Vampire is SOV angst from J.R. Bookwalter, who only a couple years earlier delivered the delightful The Dead Next Door. That film was shot on film, Super-8 to be exact. in 1991, video was what video was, technically and aesthetically, and though I’ve developed an appreciation for the form and format, I’m still more a film guy at heart.

Matthew Jason Walsh stars as the angsty young vampire so at odds with the desires of his mom (Cherie Patry). The outcome is an oddly moving if overwrought psychodrama mixed with more traditional vampire horror elements.

Oh, the angst ! Oh, that pink outfit!

The Vampires Night Orgy (1972)

The Vampires Night Orgy (1972) movie poster

director  León Klimovsky
viewed: 03/12/2018

The Vampire’s Night Orgy is light on orgy, but is a pretty solid Spanish horror flick.

When their bus driver croaks suddenly, a group of people on their way to employment at some hacienda instead find themselves in the village of Tolnia, a town not to be found on any map. This is because the village is under the sway of the Countess (Helga Liné), a vampire. She rules the roost over all the villagefolk, who seem to all be cannibals or undead? Interestingly, they are cannibals that have to sacrifice their own limbs to feed these stranded travelers.

There is also a ghost boy(?) who befriends the little girl of the group. But with friends like these, who needs enemies?

It’s not as eerie as Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead films, but works along with that sort of vibe. The townfolk never speak, which is especially eerie when they descend on their victims.

As noted elsewhere, the soundtrack is unintentionally dissonant and annoying, but otherwise León Klimovsky’s The Vampire’s Night Orgy is a pretty intriguing slice of early 1970’s Euro horror.

Blood (1973)

Blood (1973) VHS cover

director Andy Milligan
viewed:  03/11/2018

I don’t know what it is about Andy Milligan films, but it seems like the more of them that I watch, the better I like them.  This is my 8th Milligan in a little over a year. My trajectory has run: The Body Beneath (1970), Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1973), Guru, the Mad Monk (1970), Carnage (1984), Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970), The Man with Two Heads (1972), and most recently, The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! (1972).

And Blood may be my favorite so far? Toppling The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! which had just taken the top spot. Are they getting better or am I becoming more attuned to Andy Milligan?

Hope Stansbury (from Rats/Werewolves) is here, as a perpetually discontented vampiress, being kept alive by the ministrations of her husband, Orlavsky (Alan Berendt), and his assistants, Carrie (Patricia Gaul), the legless Orlando (Michael Fischetti), the simpleminded Carlotta (Pichulina Hempi).

Everything was going great until…Ha, ha, it was never going great for this clan, returning to America from Europe to settle up with an exploitative accountant and reclaim Orlavsky’s family home. Orlavsky imprudently falls for Prudence (Pamela Adams), who unwittingly falls in with this crowd.

This crowd is a vampire, a werewolf, and some man-eating plants. I guess producer Walter Kent (who appears as “Man in office”) hadn’t quite the flair for titling that William Mishkin did, or this might have been called “The Vampires Are Here! The Werewolves, Too! And Man-Eating Plants! Frankenstien Is Coming!” Because, yes, at the end, as a joke, Dr. Frankenstein takes over the premises when all is said and done.

All this, in less than an hour. And of all his Milligan’s movies, which he shot himself, I loved the aesthetic achieved, even shooting the bulk of the film in his house and property.

Le Frisson des Vampires (1971)

Le Frisson des Vampires (1971) movie poster

director Jean Rollin
viewed: 10/16/2017

The Shiver of the Vampires is perhaps the most completely realized vision of Jean Rollin. In my opinion, that is.

Of his early films, Le viol du vampire (1968), La vampire nue (1970),  Requiem pour un vampire (1971) (all vampires, all the time), it’s as lush a production as he ever seemed to land, and also features another gorgeous Art Deco throwback movie poster, even nicer than La vampire nue.

On the surface, what’s really new? Naked vampires with sapphic leanings, elegant ruins inhabited, death and deathlessness, longing and desire. But at the same time it does differ. The soundtrack by Groupe Acanthus is certainly a-typical and kind of groovy. But that’s not it.

Rollin employs Bava-esque colored lighting , evoking a cheap but effective surrealism. The appearances of Isolde (Dominique), the vampire queen, first from a clock, then exploding from wall hangings, and (less effectively) dropping into a fireplace call to mind Jean Cocteau and the gorgeous simple effects in La Belle et la Bête (1946).

The story is the subversion of the heterosexual , or traditional married relationship. A freshly married man and wife arrive at the wife’s cousin’s castle only to find them dead. Well, dead and undead. Two mysterious nubile servants quietly run the show. But the wife is seduced away from her virginity as well as her husband’s grasp.

Rollin’s depictions of lesbian relationships is less purely exploitative and scopophilic. The women of his films escape their patriarchal worlds and find freedom and beauty in love between themselves. He’s nowhere as clear in his attitude toward male homosexuality, but maybe he’s frowns on all masculinity.

Ultimately, the heroes of the story are “the Renfields”, the unnamed lesbian servants, who overthrow not only the patriarchy at the end but overthrow the entire bourgeoisie.

I’ve watched Rollin’s vampire quartet over a four year span, in no particular order, so I would like to re-watch as a group sometime to better have a collective impression of the ideas and attitudes.

I do think this the best of the four, though I like them all.

 

Full Moon of the Virgins (1973)

Full Moon of the Virgins (1973) movie poster

directors Luigi Batzella, Joe D’Amato
viewed: 09/25/2017

I’m going with Full Moon of the Virgins here, contrary to the title the movie is better known as: The Devil’s Wedding Night. That’s what it said on the version I saw, a literal translation of the Italian Il plenilunio delle vergini.

What neither really gives you is that this is a vampire flick. A sort of throwback Gothic vampire flick in the style of heyday Hammer Films.

Mark Damon stars as twin brothers researching some Wagnerian biz of German lore, only to step into a sort of gender-swap Dracula thing. The Countess Dracula is Rosalba Neri, and she’s got the goods as resident vampire lady.

I sensed a vein of humor running throughout. Not camp, per se, but playful?

I guess I’m at a bit of a loss to say why I liked it, but I did. The production is really pretty solid, putting location Piccolomini castle in Balsoranao to great use, and employing mostly nice cinematography.

And ultimately, you get those full moon virgins for the devil’s wedding night, eventually in their altogether.

The Velvet Vampire (1971)

The Velvet Vampire (1971) movie poster

director  Stephanie Rothman
viewed: 07/31/2017

Interesting and unusual, but still not quite remarkable, Stephanie Rothman’s The Velvet Vampire won’t probably change your life but is certainly worth seeing.

Celeste Yarnall is the titular (in more ways that one!) vampire, an ageless lady, mourning her long-dead love, who makes her home in the California desert. She invites a young couple to her home to spy on voyeuristically, to seduce, and eventually to feed upon.

Unfortunately, this couple are not just bad actors but quite annoying people. Which leaves our Velvet Vampire as the only interesting character in the film.

The desert setting, daylight excursions in a dune buggy, the dream sequences that could be Pink Floyd album covers all add flavor to this film.

I’ve always loved the poster.

Lips of Blood (1975)

Lips of Blood (1975) movie poster

director Jean Rollin
viewed: 07/14/2017

Lips of Blood is one of the most dreamlike of Jean Rollin’s surrealistic horror films. It also seems like one of the better-funded of productions, though from what I’ve read, it suffered from some production shortcomings that kept it from being a fully-realized vision.

Rollin’s films all have that feel to me; compromises everywhere, but dreams realized and visions captured nonetheless. The locations are gorgeous, including the “aquarium at the Trocadero, the ruins at Chateau Gaillard, and that seemingly ever-present beach at Dieppe with its rotting pilings, an image of longing and loss. Lips of Blood feels somehow more personal as well, and apparently Rollin based the character of Frédéric (Jean-Loup Philippe) on himself.

Frédéric is triggered by a photo of a ruined castle and a memory, much like a dream, invades his mind: as a child, going there and falling in love with a beautiful, short-haired girl (Annie Belle, last seen by me in Rollin’s Bacchanales Sexuelles (1974). The rest of his existence begins to fall away as he hunts for the castle and the girl, and meanwhile frees some other sexy, near-nekkid vampires.

Rollin was indeed a romantic.

Curse of the Vampires (1966)

 

Ibulong mo sa hangin (1964)

director Gerardo de Leon
viewed: 07/07/2017

No matter what you call it, Blood of the VampiresWhisper to the Wind, Ibulong mo sa hangin, the one thing you know is you’ve got another Gerardo de Leon vampire picture. While it’s not quite as much a masterpiece as his Blood Is the Color of Night, it does have some interesting visual effects (albeit somewhat muted by the quality of the print I watched).

Things go sideways for a noble Filipino family when the adult children find out that pops has been keeping their dead mom in the basement since she turned into a vampire at death.

The cool effects of which I speak seem to mostly be effected via lighting techniques, revealing shocking visages of vampires and their fangs. Not sure if these look better or worse due to the washed-out nature of the print, but I though they were cool.

The mother vampire is a pathetic thing, chained and whipped by the father and his henchman. There is some mad repression going on here. And if that weren’t enough, you’ve got the household staff in blackface!

I’ve yet to be disappointed by a Filipino horror film.

Well, REALLY disappointed.

Requiem for a Vampire (1971)

Requiem for a Vampire (1971) movie poster

director Jean Rollin
viewed: 06/04/2017

Jean Rollin was nothing if not a cinematic poet. Since he worked on the cheap and in the horror and porn/sexploitation genres, who knows how close he ever came to fully realizing his visions. But visions they are, even the worst of his films oozes dreamy fantasy over any storyline or plotting.

I’ve now watched enough of his filmic corpus to say that I am indeed a fan. That said, I’m still contemplating his work and have yet to fully develop any well-constructed conclusions.

Requiem for a Vampire follows many of his themes and ideas: vampires, young runaways, lesbian lovers, strange cults, all set against the French countryside, venerable houses or ruins. Requiem begins oddly with a car chase, in media res, with two clown-painted girls and a getaway driver pursued by gunmen. They do indeed get away, but the driver is killed, so the girls torch the car and then wander through a cemetery to ruins haunted by a vampire cult.

Most interestingly, Rollin runs much of Requiem’s opening with the barest amount of dialog. Though this might have been a functional thing (non-sync sound), it also turns the film into a more purely visual one, telling the story through action and imagery and not propelled by dialogue.

In the end, the girls are challenge to become vampires or remain virgins and while this again speaks to Rollin’s themes of women positioned in opposition to patriarchal demands, fleeing a society for which they have no place, the film also features some more brute rape as well.

I don’t know where it falls in my Rollin spectrum, but it’s certainly an undeniable Rollin picture.