22nd Jun2011

‘Requiem For a Vampire’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Marie-Pierre Castel, Mireille Dargent, Philippe Gasté | Written and Directed by Jean Rollin

Requiem for a Vampire is also known as Caged Virgins, Virgins and Vampires and Sex Vampires. Does that catch your interest? I’m sure it will do. I prefer Requiem for a Vampire as the name though; it pulls the movie back from sounding too sleazy.

The movie follows Marie and Michelle, two young girls who find an old seemingly deserted castle and decide to hide out there. Unlucky for them the castle is in fact populated with what at first appear to be vampires, but are in fact people attempting to become vampires aided by the last vampire who lives in the graveyard nearby. The two girls are held captive in the castle by the vampire and his minions in the aim of transforming the girls from the “virgins” they are to vampires. Will the girls escape, or will they embrace themselves in the world of the vampire?

The first thing that will hit you when you watch this movie is the surrealism. It starts off with two clowns in a gun fight. Once they escape whoever is chasing them only then we see that the clowns are in fact two girls. What is also striking is the fact that there is hardly any dialogue at all in the first half of the movie. We are pulled into the story of the two girls, and it is only by their actions that we learn anything about them. This involves an almost Benny Hill style farce at times when one of the girls is chased around a forest why the other girl steals from him. The scene has its reasons but is again quite surreal in a movie that is meant to be about vampires.

When we finally meet the “vampires” they are quite strange. The closer the people come to being vampires the more they dress like Dracula in a Hammer Horror movie. The ones who have not achieved full transformation (which pretty much means got fangs) are dressed in rags, almost like being a vampire is a social statement in the little group. The only actual full vampire is even stranger, being the last alive his living in the cemetery alone really highlights this fact.

When it comes to the horror in this movie it is quite tame really. The movie tends to focus more on women being naked and tortured than letting us see some vampire action. I’m not going to complain about this of course as naked women are never a bad thing, and when you watch a movie like this you know what you are going to get, and yes that’s nakedness.

Requiem For A Vampire is what it always sets out to be, it’s a typical 1970’s artistic French movie about two virgins who find themselves in peril. What interests me though is that unlike most movies of this type the girls are actually strong willed and don’t require any “dashing hero” to come to their rescue. If anything THEY are the ones who have to do the saving, and it is the men who end up either dead or trapped by the vampires. The only strong male character arguably is the vampire himself but he also has a secret that shows a weakness that he had to hide from his minions.

So, behind all the nudity and torture and clown costumes this is quite a good movie. At times it can be confusing as the director takes you on a trip through a very strange world but if you know what to expect when you start watching it you see it for the classic of the genre that it is. Plus it beats Twilight any day.

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