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Daughters of Darkness
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Art-movie goddess Delphine Seyrig (Last Year at Marienbad) slinks through the plush Eurotrash settings as the deathless Elizabeth Bathory, Vampire Countess, in Harry Kümel's minor Dutch classic of lesbian erotic-gothic. Blood mingles with water during the languorous shower scenes. Set at an upper-crust seaside resort, the 1971 film recounts Bathory's plot to replace her current consort (Andrea Rau) with a fresher specimen, an abused newlywed whose brutal young husband is an inconvenience waiting to be eliminated. Although both the bi-sex and the neck-biting violence are tame by today's standards, the film has a graceful, gliding sense of pace that gets under your skin; something unspeakably kinky always seems to be just about to happen. It never quite does, but the mood lingers. See it with someone you love--or would like to. --David Chute --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Daughters of Darkness is a vampire tale with a malevolently chilly and sexually tense atmosphere that haunts the mind with its subtle approach as Kümel avoids the popular approach of vampires. The vampires do not sleep in coffins nor attack the necks of their victims with sharpened elongated teeth. Instead Kümel disguises the threat of evil behind courteous behavior, alluring charm, and vivid gesticulations that become passionately seductive for the characters in the film. In addition, the mise-en-scene is strongly suggestive and vibrant colors are used in order to enhance the bewitching atmosphere that is viewed by the audience. This leaves the viewer with an uneasy, but artistic cinematic experience that selective audiences will appreciate.
While an entire mystique has developed around Bathory, let's remember that she was a real person, who actually believed that bathing in virgins' blood would sustain her youthful beauty. Perverse, in other words, but strictly material --- there was nothing supernatural about her.
The problem with "Daughters," though, is not that it reinterprets Bathory as a supernatural being. Bram Stoker was guilty of the same thing in his reconfigured version of Vlad Tepes. But at least Stoker was consistent --- he reinvented "Dracula" in his own terms, and did not arbitrarily mix the supernatural laws governing one sort of vampire with those of another.
By contrast, "Daughters" mixes legends. Why, for example, do we hear a sudden outburst of "cue music" when Stefan accidentally nicks his neck shaving? It's obviously a moment that director Kumel carefully prepares us for, but the strategem backfires, because the Countess is not that sort of vampire.
Why, moreover, does the Countess hold a seemingly supernatural, Svengali-like hold over her victims, rather than merely erotic control? And why does she keep "reincarnating" in body after body, when this, too, has no connection with either Bathory or conventional vampire lore?
Why, too, does "Ilona" recoil from a shower near the end of the film? Her fear of running water has us connecting Bathorian vampirism with the Stokeresque variety, but for no legitimate reason.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Au-delà de mes espérances. Je n'avais pas vu qu'il y avait aussi une version complète (en anglais) de LA MARIÉE SANGLANTE, film d'horreur culte espagnol... Read morePublished 18 months ago by DaViDmaniac
This film is about a newlywed couple who "honeymoon?" at a fancy palace like hotel in Europe somewhere, alone, and are seduced by a Countess and her sidekick who show up... Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2003 by El Smoksta
Normally I don't go for the vampire film where you don't see the fangs - but in this case the subtly works so well. Read morePublished on July 10 2003 by Amazon Customer
I'm delighted this will be available on DVD. I watched it on VHS a long, long time ago. I'd heard about it in various books on vampire films and haunted every video store I could... Read morePublished on May 11 2003 by MooncatX aka Bliss Crimson
Let's face it: "Daughters of Darkness" is, at most, a guilty pleasure. Despite the cheesy music, overly dramatic dialogue, and uneven acting, this film is totally watchable. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2002
Daughters of darkness has what most recent horror flicks lack, georgeous yet creepy environments, unique somewhat complex characters, a slow buildup of tension, but it could simply... Read morePublished on Jan. 25 2002
Worse than a merely bad film is a self-important bad film. This monstrosity drips with artsy pretensions, yet is so poorly written, acted and directed that it doesn't even amuse... Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2002
Sometimes it's better to suspend belief and enjoy the images
put forward. Who cares if the story doesn't make sense? Read more
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