Saturday, January 15, 2011

VIERGES ET VAMPIRES - Pierre Raph - "Virgins & Vampires" (1971)

A few weeks ago, I was reminded by Dungeon amigo Greg Goodsell of the passing of famed French film maker Jean Rollin, who has left and gone on to higher ground as of exactly a month ago, on December 15th, 2010! Jean had just turned 72 the month previous! The only movie I could get my hands on quickly was "Vierges Et Vampires" aka "Caged Virgins," or in this case, "Requiem for a Vampire" which was also released as "Caged Vampires," "Dungeon Of Terror," "Sex Vampires," "The Crazed Vampire," and "Vampires And Virgins!" Well, unfortunately for my tribute piece, it just so happens that if any film has that many titles, there's usually a reason, like it's probably a piece of crap, and you wouldn't be too far from wrong!!

No holds barred here, this movie doesn't make any sense right from the start!

The opening scene sets the tone with two cute girls dressed as clowns with an unidentified male in a gunfight car chase in the country! You don't know why, and you won't find out, because after the guy gets shot, they amazingly ditch the car that is directly behind them, then douse it and the driver with gasoline, set it on fire, and walk away! Roll credits!! Whatever the statement was, I don't get it!

Jean Rollin wrote and directed "Requiem for a Vampire" and I'm pretty sure he wrote it in the car on the way to the shoot! I think I counted about 44 minutes before there was any dialogue, and when it did happen, it was just a handful of sentences that when you hear, you are so shocked that someone is talking, you don't pay attention, that is, if you're still awake! The music is probably the most interesting part of the film, and even it wasn't used to full potential, as there's also a lot of silence! Composer Pierre Raph sounds like he was a big Iron Butterfly fan because a lot of the music is mostly just organ and a rumbling drum solo! Pierre has five films total to his credit, and they all have colourful names, "Curse of the Living Dead," "Rose of Iron," "Schoolgirl Hitchhikers," which were all Jean Rollin films, and the Jean-François Davy film "Dirty Lovers!"

Enter dilapidated building as clowns, come out as cute girls! The little blonde is Marie-Pierre Castel and the other girl is Mireille Dargent! One of the more interesting things is that Marie-Pierre Castel who is the same age as me and Tabonga, also has a twin sister named Catherine Castel, who is in more than half of her films, which unsurprisingly were all also Jean Rollin movies, "Douces Pénétrations," "Introductions," "Lips Of Blood," "The Seduction Of Amy," "Fly Me The French Way," and "The Nude Vampire!" I'm sure seeing the two of them together has got to be kind of interesting, well, for a least a little while anyway!!

Marie and Michelle either find or had a motorcycle stashed, and continue on their journey to only Jean Rollin knows where! Mini-skirts and knee socks, how can you miss??

They end up in a cemetery that gets very good TV reception!!

While scampering about, Michelle falls in a newly dug grave, and while not unconscious, lays there as the unsuspecting gravediggers continue to fill the hole as Marie watches on in dismay in this transition shot!

Luckily, the slovenly French gravediggers take a break to drink some wine, and Marie is able to unearth Michelle just in time for them to have a lesbian love scene!

No words have yet to be spoken!

There can be a very thin line between arty and completely boring! Groundbreaking for 1971? Sure! Interesting? Not really! Sometimes that's just the way Surrealism works, but if you're only doing it as a shortcut, because you have no budget, then that's a different story, that's like protesting something you know nothing about!

Sometimes the girls have guns, sometimes they don't, it really doesn't seem to matter, because they never kill anything with them anyway, they just like to shoot them! The guns are magic and never seem to run out of ammunition!

One thing for sure, and make no mistake about it, this is not a movie for kids!!

Finally, we get to the vampires....

...and they're a motley crew at best, Philippe Gasté here as Frédéric the vampire actually looks like he's a thousand years old!

Once the girls come in contact with the vampires, there is an array of running around in circles, coupled with a seemingly endless and pointless rape scene of some other hapless tied and bound up victims!!

Flasher Frédéric releases the bats hidden inside his cape, and they attach themselves to the girls necks like velcro darts!

The best scene is probably when Mireille Dargent disrobes and runs around the top of this old castle for a while!

Actor, director, cinematographer Renan Pollès is still working today, and deserves a lot of credit for making this film almost watchable!

These last two shots are publicity stills from the film, and give you a real idea of what the famed director was capable of doing, and that's why we're saluting the memory of Jean Rollin tonight, whether I like this movie or not!


Greg Goodsell said...

Too bad you didn't like this one but you NEVER watch a Jean Rollin film for the story. I still prefer his stuff over Jesus Franco ----

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

We'll have to discuss that subject over lunch some time! Franco ain't perfect, he made some real stinkers too. I don't need a story, I just need some substance!!

Unknown said...

Good going keep-it up.Great information.Thanks for such a great blog.

Mr. Zed said...

This movie is wonderful - the scenes, the dialogue, the music, all comes together really well. The plot is fairly simple but I liked it. I find it suspicious if you don't at least like it. Give it another view all this time later, maybe on rewatching you will get it more.

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