Review: ‘Daughters of Darkness’

Delphine Seyrig's silver lame presence and Harry Kumel's evocative direction make this an above-par vampire tale. Updating the old chestnut about the butch countess who remains forever young by drinking and bathing in the blood of maidens, Daughters of Darkness is so intentionally perverse that it often slips into impure camp, but Kumel and Seyrig hold interest by piling twists on every convention of the vampire genre.

Delphine Seyrig’s silver lame presence and Harry Kumel’s evocative direction make this an above-par vampire tale. Updating the old chestnut about the butch countess who remains forever young by drinking and bathing in the blood of maidens, Daughters of Darkness is so intentionally perverse that it often slips into impure camp, but Kumel and Seyrig hold interest by piling twists on every convention of the vampire genre.

Spending their honeymoon at a mammoth but deserted seaside resort hotel in Belgium, newlyweds John Karlen and Daniele Ouimet are marked by the countess (Seyrig) and her lesbian ‘secretary’ (Andrea Rau). Karlen is actually a sadistic mama’s boy, but ‘Mother’ (played by Dutch film director Fons Rademakers) is an aging homosexual who’s been keeping him in London. When Karlen vents his belt-wielding sexuality on his bride, she seeks refuge with the countess.

Avoiding standard fang-in-the-neck fright, Kumel keeps the gore limited to the two death sequences, but there he goes all out. Both are stunningly directed and edited.

Daughters of Darkness

US - France

Production

Gemini/Maya. Director Harry Kumel; Producer Paul Collet, Alain C. Guilleaume; Screenplay Pierre Drouot, Harry Kumel; Camera Edward Van Der Enden; Editor Gust Verschueren, Denis Bonan; Music Francois de Roubiax

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1971. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Delphine Seyrig Daniele Ouimet John Karlen Andrea Rau Paul Esser Fons Rademakers
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