director José Ramón Larraz
If you’re looking for lesbian vampire flicks, the 1970’s was pretty much the heyday for the subgenre. It wasn’t anything new. Sheridan Le Fanu wrote his notable novella “Carmilla” in 1872 and many films have tapped into that vein to varying degrees, like Blood and Roses (1960) or The Vampire Lovers (1970). Virtually the entirety of Jean Rollin’s filmography fits the mold (and the period) of this heyday, when nudity was the name of the game and sexual titillation lit the way.
I’ve often found Rollin’s films quite interesting in what I’ve taken as a sort of feminist through line, more than sympathetic with his characters, there is real identification with them. Somewhat antithetical in Exploitation, but that kind of adds to the interest. Not that José Ramón Larraz’s Vampyres is necessarily of the same order, it does at the same time tell a story that empathizes in ways with the lesbian vampire ghosts of the film.
The film opens on a scene of two women in bed, shot to death by an unseen figure. When we later come upon Fran and Miriam (Marianne Morris and Anulka Dziubinska), they are flagging down drivers along a lonely road, taking them home and feeding on them. Their story is never explicitly told. Are they ghosts? Are they true vampires? They never show those telltale fangs. Are they heroes or villains? Or neither?
In my reading, I took the film to be sympathetic to the women, perhaps their bloody afterlife is some vengeance upon the world that had assassinated them. The nudity and sex was more than actresses Morris and Dziubinska had anticipated, and from what I’ve read Larraz knew this was the key element of the picture: softcore sexploitation.
It’s certainly a cut above what I might have anticipated.