Monday, 7 January 2008

The Shiver of the Vampires (1971)

The Shiver of the Vampires (Le Frisson des vampires) is my third Jean Rollin movie, And I’m becoming quite the Rollin fan. Once again his debt to the Surrealists is very much in evidence, and once again this is neither a conventional vampire movie nor a conventional horror movie. It is, however, slightly less surreal and slightly closer in feel to traditional horror than his earlier Rape of the Vampire (Le Viol du vampire). Rollin’s movies are very much image and mood-driven rather than plot-driven – if you like a strong straightforward story you’ve picked the wrong director! Fortunately Rollin’s images (helped along by the rather wonderful music by a progressive rock band of the era called, I believe, Acanthus) are impressive enough to stand on their own. His use of colour is dazzling. Being a Jean Rollin movie there is of course a positively staggeringly amount of nudity, so if you have a problem with nudity you want to stay right away from this one.

A young wife and her new husband pay a visit to he old (and visually magnificent) chateau owned by two of her cousins, who are now deceased. Sort of. They also encounter some other odd denizens of the chateau, and discover the results of her cousins’ researches into old religions. The most striking of these inhabitants are the two maids – Rollin seems obsessed by the idea of female twins or doubles, and although these two young women a clearly not related (one being blonde and very European and the other being Asian) they still seem like twins. As usual with Rollin the characters are all to some degree ambiguous, and the events of the film are equally ambiguous. The feel of the movie is very, very trippy – this is a real treat for lovers of late 60s/early 70s psychodelia. There are also some amazing entrances by the vampire Isolde, but I’m not going to spoil things by telling you any details. I don’t think this film is as good as Rape of the Vampire or Requiem for a Vampire, but for fans of arty Eurohorror it’s still a must.

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