Les Lèvres Rouges
Daughters of Darkness
Le Rouge aux Lèvres / Blood on the Lips / Solo für einen Vampir / Blut an den Lippen
Belgium / France / West Germany 1971
Paul Collet, Henry Lange, Alain C. Guilleaume (executive) for Showking Films, Maya Films, Ciné Vog Films, Roxy Film
directed by Harry Kümel
starring Delphine Seyrig, John Karlen, Danielle Ouimet, Andrea Rau, Paul Esser, Georges Jamin, Joris Collet, Fons Rademakers
screenplay by Pierre Drouot, Harry Kümel, dialogue by Jean Ferry, music by François de Roubaix
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Stefan (John Karlen) and Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) just got married in
Switzerland, and now she's all excited to meet his mother in England -
which is not something he's looking forward to, so he stalls, and when
they arrive in Ostend, Belgium, instead of taking the next ferry across
the English Channel, he persuades her to spend the night in an
out-of-season luxury hotel and affords them the king's suite even. They
think they're the only guests at the hotel too - until the arrival of
Countess Bathory (Delphine Seyrig) and her secretary Ilona (Andrea Rau),
who seem a bit too much interested in their fellow guests, but both Stefan
and Valerie are secretly fascinated by them, and suddenly think it's a
good idea to stay in Ostend a bit longer.
The next day, Stefan and
Valerie make a day trip to Bruges, and while there stumble upon a murder
scene where the body's just removed - something that Stefan's a bit too
fascinated in. Later they read that a serial killer's on the loose in
Bruges, draining his or her victims of all their blood. Back at the hotel,
the Countess tells a story about her ancestor (?) Elizabeth, who actually
bathed in virgin blood, and while Valerie is appalled by this and retreats
to her room, Stefan is fascinated. Later that evening, Valerie is
attacked, and while she couldn't make out the attacker, it turns out to be
Ilona, who wanted to drink her blood. Yet later, Stefan gets so annoyed by
Valerie that her brutally whips her. She wants to run away, but is
intercepted at the station by the Countess while Ilona seduces Stefan -
but then he accidently kills her when he tries to drag her under the
shower, something it's suggested vampires are allergic to. Valerie and the
Countess return and find Stefan over Ilona's dead body. The Countess
doesn't seem too concerned about losing her secretary though and takes
charge of getting rid of the body - during which she tries to get rid of
Stefan as well but he's saved by Valerie. But the fates of the three of
them are linked now - and only disaster can follow ...
of Darkness is hardly the first European female vampire movie - but
it's pretty much the epitome of things one associates with Eurohorror, or
at least the high end of the genre: Lush old world settings, an
atmospheric and artsy approach, beautiful actresses doing their fair share
of nudity, a deliberately slow pace that deliberately only hints at things
rather than spelling them out, and gruesomeness where gruesomeness is due.
But that's not at all saying this film is just a paint-by-the-numbers
thing, as it's actually a fascinating and highly original piece of vampire
cinema, one that affords itself a labyrinthine way of storytelling
that goes surprisingly well with the genre, and manages to be properly
creepy in all the right places without falling back on vampire mainstays.
deserved genre classic for sure.