'Requiem' might be a bit of a misnomer, considering that Jean Rollin would spend the better part of the next 30 years making vampire films. Nor is it the last word on the bloodsucker genre. However, this languid, sensual and typically lyrical film fits fairly snugly into the oeuvre of its director - with the exception of some tacked on scenes of rough sex - which will be good enough for many a connoisseur of fantastic cinema. Coming in a lovely box, with plenty of extras and outstanding picture quality, this is an essential release by fledgling company Encore that renders all other versions irrelevant.

On the run from the police, two young women (Marie-Pierre Castel and Mireille D'Argent) in clown outfits elude their prey and dispose of their dead driver, before switching cars and engaging in a bit of soft, all female lovemaking. After sleeping in a graveyard, the two ladies stumble onto a crumbling chateau that houses a coven of vampires, who wish to initiate the pair in their ancient bloodletting ways. This comes with some mixed results that will test their friendship to the limit.

Despite containing all the irresistible ingredients of Rollin's best work - elegant scenery, painterly cinematography, soft-core writhings and fanged beauties - this quite early effort from the French director is far from his best work. Whilst REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE isn't as lyrical as LIPS OF BLOOD, as fun as FASCINATION or as atmospheric as GRAPES OF DEATH, it makes the best of a truly minimal story by having the protagonists flounder through some gorgeous scenery and vibrantly shot interiors, with baffled expressions on their face that make them appear to be drifting almost aimlessly through some morbidly attractive dream land. Mixing as it does desolate settings (such as the crumbling chateau and a battered graveyard) with light hearted scenes that would seem to belong in a bawdy sex comedy (as when one of the women entices a man in a burger van to chase her through some woods, Benny Hill style, as her friend steals his money), REQUIEM is an uneasy mixture that will probably infuriate as much as it pleases.

Although this DVD edition by Dutch company Encore has several minutes of footage absent from the Dark Side Double Feature with FACINATION - in which a couple of male guards rough up, grab, squeeze, fondle and rape a pair of bound women for several minutes - this actually stands almost as a disadvantage, so out of synch with Rollin's vision it feels. A concession for sexploitation fans of a nastier disposition, imposed on Rollin by his paymasters, these tedious moments drag on for what seems like aeons, and are completely devoid of the more delicate form of eroticism that Rollin thrives on. Another irritation is that it contains extended moments of pumping when its male subject has yet to undo his trousers. Although that problem is 'rectified', allowing us to actually believe the poor bird is being penetrated, this is a rude interruption to even the strange, hermetic world of Jean Rollin.

Three discs might seem a bit much considering what's on offer (hardly an exorbitant amount of extras), but given the amount of memory that extras such as audio tracks can take up on a disc, it's fitting the way it is, perhaps to maximise the quality of the film's picture. If that's the case then the package is a huge success, so clear, bright and pleasing is the transfer, especially compared to its non-anamorphic forbears. Of all the special features, the most welcome is 'Le Dernier Livre', which includes a reading by Rollin of his short story by the same name. Finally, it's worth noting that the film has French and English language options, as well as subtitles to accommodate English, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Portugese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Polish viewers. A cracking international release for cult film fans worldwide.

Review by Matthew Sanderson

Released by Encore Entertainment
Region All - PAL
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review