Requiem For A Vampire

Requiem For A Vampire

Two directors that I had always heard about but that always eluded me are Paul Naschy and Jean Rollin. The films of Naschy always sounded like modern versions of Ed Wood films. Jean Rollin ,I thought, was another version of Joe D'Amato, or Jess Franco. I had never seen anything by Franco either except for my copy of "Virgin Among The Dead" or whatever it's called, mine has no sound so I never watched it all the way through. But for some reason I have been itching to see a Rollin film. Maybe it was the allure of massive amounts of lesbians.

"Requiem For A Vampire" is commonly regarded as one of Jean Rollins best. I was torn between that, "Shiver Of The Vampire" and "The Living Dead Girl". "Requiem" was the one recommended to me by the most people, So that was to be my first foray into the world of Rollin.

The film opens with an exciting (ahem!) car chase. Two women dressed as clowns with a man driving the car are escaping from somebody and a gun battle is happening while they run. The man driving gets shot and the two women decide they have to burn up the car and body. Watch this scene since you can see the man twitch and breathe real deep as the "gas" gets poured over his head. Multiple takes obviously were not an option.

We are lead around with the countryside with the two girls as they steal food by luring the man at the food stand away by coming on to him. They end up in a grave yard were one of them falls into a grave and starts getting buried alive.

The film eventually leads us into a castle (chateau) that seems at first to be empty. So, the two women decide to get naked, carress each other and lie on a bear skin blanket on a bed. Cozy. Then a noise disturbs them and they get dressed and go to investigate.

O.K., the film's plot is kind of crap. They end up encountering a ring of vampires that insist on our girls bringing fresh victims to them and then they will turn the girls into vampires. But the head vampire has a few different ideas up his sleeve. Things are not what they seem in vampire land. But don't let me make you think anything of real interest is going to happen. This twist isn't anything that will make you shocked or even surprised. At the most I would expect a reaction along the lines of "hm, that's neat", and that is about it.

So, the story kind of blows. But that really isn't anything new when it comes to the Horror world. Quite a few directors, especially in Europe, put more emphasis on style and atmosphere than on story. The films of Fulci have no story. The films of Argento all have the same story for the most part, at least his giallo do. But these directors are still able to make compelling films none-the-less. This film, however, gives us a simple story with very little dialogue and seems to hope that you will be interested in the look of the film and its stars. Is it enough? Kind of.

The film is presented at a ratio of 1.66:1, or so it says. It is almost full frame, so I don't think that ratio is correct. So don't be expecting the film to have an over-powering look of a film in the 2.35:1 picture. But with what he does have to work with Rollin does a fine job. I imagine that if Rollin were to be given a budget for that scope he would make something that would make your head spin. The film is attractive enough to keep you watching.

The acting is O.K. It is no secret that Rollin doesn't always hire actual actors and actresses for his film. He hires on looks most of the time and he has even hired actual lesbians for his films. This fact I got while trying to decide which film of his to get. I became quite interested in the way he does things the more I read. So don't expect award winning performances here.

The picture quality here is pretty good. There is visible grain and the budget of the film does come screaming through to you. As I said, I have never seen one of Rollins films before, so I don't know how much better this DVD looks. Since this is an Image/Redemption product, I would have to guess this is a great looking presentation of this film.

The sound is good. The dialogue is a bit tough to hear at times, but I would have to bet that that is just the way it was recorded. This is a very quiet film. As is often noted about this film, the first 20 minutes if this film are almost completely without dialogue. Then after that it is only present on rare occasion. The whole dialogue in this film could probably fit onto 4 pages of script! The music is good though, when it is there.

The special features here consist of a few theatrical trailers that make the movie look a whole lot more sexy and exciting than it really is, a bunch of photos that are of publicity stills and behind the scenes type of stuff. There are quite a few of these, so they should be on interest to most the Rollin fans out there.

The film has two audio tracks, one in French, the other in English. I would have to guess that the French track is the original, though the dubbing in the English version is almost perfect most of the time. Thank God for very little dialogue. That and the fact that half the time when somebody is speaking we are hovering above at a birds eye view or at a distance.

Picture quality is quite nice. Very little grain and a picture that is constantly stable. The edits are rough at times, though that is not the DVD fault, so much as it is the fault of a low budget. Though I wouldn't be surprised if the DVD doesn't help bring these quirky jumps out a bit more. The colors are a bit on the muted side, though that also is more of the budget restriction than the DVD.

In the end I find Rollin a compelling enough director to check out a few more of his films. I will probably still pick up "Living Dead Girl" and "Shiver Of The Vampire". If you have yet to see one if his films, you should try to see one. They are quite unique. Try to find one to rent, I would never recommend you buy one without knowing what he is like first off. I have seen people say that if you like Herzog's version of "Nosferatu", then you will like Rollin. This is not entirely true. Rollin does carry a very surreal feel to his films. They are quiet beyond belief, but never disturbing. "Nosferatu", which is one of my personal favorites, is quiet and yet still one of the most disturbing and intense films I have ever seen. There is also nothing sexy at all about Klaus Kinski in that film. I can see how they all might make a good night of viewing with each other, but liking one does not mean you will like the other. I would say that if you like Rollin, chances are you will like "Nosferatu". But if you like "Nosferatu", try to find what you like about it and then you can judge better. Make sense? If not ask me later and I will explain it better.

Lastly, the whole erotic side of this film was a bit lost on me. The Redemption Films intro on the disc was much more erotic than the film. Plus, there is a torture/rape scene that is just wacky and out of place. Rumor has it that this scene was added post production by the director after the studio urged him to do it since "soft-core" was getting killed by the Porn industry. Many people believe this to be true, even the Rollin die-hards. I would have to agree since it does look a bit different than the rest of the movie. Plus, who am I to argue. But no, this is not all that erotic and the two leads don't run around naked as much as you may have been led to believe. Sorry.

Directed by Jean Rollin
Released by Redemption/Image
Region 0 - NTSC
Ratio - Widescreen 1.66:1
Audio - French Mono
Subtitles - English
Extras :
Theatrical Trailer
Review by Carl R Isonhart