Friday, 30 October 2009
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE
Two gun-toting girls on the run burn the body of their former partner in crime and following an attempted rape and Fulci-esque premature burial, end up at a suitably spooky chateau. It's here they meet the last vampire on earth (Gaste) and his small band of wannabes, who seek to perpetuate a dying race by adding a couple of virgins to the waiting list.
For most of the opening hour, Requiem For A Vampire is bereft of any meaningful dialogue, instead using a succession of dreamlike encounters and imagery as a prelude to a final act that's thought provoking and genuinely moving. The two female leads (Castel and Dargent) are perfect for their respective roles, conveying the tragic elements of this story in the grand tradition of the silent movies of years gone by. Credit to them and Gaste that when the dialogue kicks in, later in the film, their contributions become even more impressive as moods, motivations, and beliefs are changed - for better or worse. I suppose it's possible to dilute the positives on offer here by focusing on apparent directorial misjudgements: there are times when Rollin trades his customary brand of stylish eroticism for a combination of Benny Hill meets Killer's Moon - wildly out of place, given the overall tone of this film. It's also irritating when eerie night-time scenes are suddenly disrupted by constantly changing the timeline from dusk to dawn and back again. Budgetary constraints associated with this type of production, or simply haphazard direction with scant regard for continuity? I prefer to view this as a continuation of Requiem's general theme, where the characters' convictions change like, well, night moves into day. Nothing is as it seems in the dream life of Rollin, though there's no mistaking the raw emotion on display when Dargent is whipped by her best friend in order to reveal the whereabouts of an 'outsider' who threatens this practically extinct race. Here, the pain and angst shared by the two girls approaches the poetic horror of The Living Dead Girl which is, I believe, Rollin at his very best.
For the uninitiated, it's no easy task to lend a helping hand and point to any one Rollin film as the ideal introduction to his work. Pick a title yourself and you'll either fall in love or dismiss the film in question as the work of a hack, though the excellent Region 2 disc containing Requiem and Fascination offers a marvellous introduction to the man and his movies. This enticing double feature disc was the debut release from Allan Bryce's Darkside magazine, and includes three superb featurettes, containing over 100 mins of clips and interviews: the excellent Eurotica programme, "Virgins And Vampires"; another documentary, "Bloody Lips And Iron Crosses" and, finally, interviews with Rollin and Eurofox Brigitte Lahaie. A perfect start for would-be Rollinades, and a real treat for long-time afficianado's, too. To be fair, though, there are a couple of problems you should be aware of: firstly, Requiem is cut, though no blame can be attached to Bryce who had to adhere to BBFC requirements. In this case, the scissors were taken to the infamous 'Caged Virgins' scene; no great loss, perhaps, but completists will no doubt double up on Requiem by adding Image's uncut Region 1 disc to their collections. The other minor gripe relates to the transfer. While this is the best UK version I've laid eyes on, there are occasions when exterior scenes suffer with regard to dull colours and a slightly soft image. There are also several instances of horrible chroma noise and moire patterning. A real shame.